Hardee's to open 59 new area restaurants. Is one near you? [MAP]

Hardee's plans a Twin Cities blitz in the next five years.
Hardee's recently announced a five-year expansion plan that will increase its Minneapolis/St. Paul-area presence four-fold, from 21 locations to 80. That's 59 new burger joints.

If you're interested in heading up one of the new franchises, there's an "Executive Roundtable" this afternoon where you can find out more. But those of us without a "minimum net worth of $1 million" (a Hardee's franchisee candidate requirement) are more concerned with where exactly this new invasion of fast food is going to land. Good thing we have a map.

The purple stars above mark the future homes of Hardee's. While they don't pinpoint exact corner lots where the restaurants will be springing up, they do plot the rough locations of the new joints. These stars are "hot spots," in the words of Jim Sullivan, a head of franchise development for Hardee's parent company CKE Restaurants. They map the prime areas where high traffic counts, populations in the 40,000 range, good site visibility, and drive-thru access intersect.

Because Hardee's has a broad definition of what constitutes the Minneapolis area, true Twin Cities-dwellers are looking at an even higher rate of expansion. We zoomed in on the map, where you can see that of the 21 Hardee's locations nearby, only one of them -- that sole gold star near St. Paul -- is close to the metro. Lonely gold star, meet all the new purple stars.

The company is anticipating five new locations in Minneapolis, five in Richfield (including two at the airport), four in both Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, three in Apple Valley and Cottage Grove, two each in St. Paul and Minnetonka, and one in both St. Louis Park and Edina, among others.

Michael Sawyer, CKE's market planning manager, broke down the process of scouting for new locations, which he describes as "a blending of an art and a science." To determine these purple-starred trade areas, Sawyer and his team plug data on traffic counts, competitor locations, and similar metrics into a mapping system, and also profile where people work, live, eat, and drive. After the computer crunches the numbers and spits back hot spots, a real estate team drives around to scope out the area visually, looking for things the software can't, like whether a shopping mall is vacant or which areas seem to be growing.

The result of all of this is these preliminary sites, which Sawyer describes as "reference points that say, somewhere in this area, we feel there's the right stuff to make a successful Hardee's."

Hardee's is mounting similar large-scale expansions in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Orlando and Tampa, Florida. The Minneapolis area made the cut, says Sullivan, as "a market where we have some presence, but where we're just under-developed." Not for long.

Here's a bigger map:

This could be popping up on your corner.

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