Weather Forecast


Hardee’s restaurant returning to Willmar

The building at 1704 First St. S. in Willmar has been purchased and is being remodeled to be a Hardee’s restaurant. It has been a Wendy’s restaurant in the past and most recently was Hoja Asian restaurant. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — A Marshall company is bringing Hardee’s restaurant back to Willmar.

Har-Mar Foods Inc. has purchased the land and building of the former Wendy’s restaurant and former Hoja Asian restaurant and is remodeling the exterior and interior of the structure at 1704 First St. S. in time for a June 16 opening.

The former Willmar Hardee’s, located in a free-standing building just west of the Kandi Mall on First Street South, closed 14 to 15 years ago for a number of reasons.

Lionel Bolden, Har-Mar chief executive officer, said the company is bringing Hardee’s back to Willmar because his new partner was very interested in Minnesota communities where Hardee’s had been successful.

“I’ve always liked Willmar,’’ said Bolden. “We targeted Willmar as one of them because we knew Hardee’s had done very well when they were there.’’

The Willmar store will be Har-Mar’s seventh Hardee’s in Minnesota, and is the company’s third store to open in Minnesota in less than a year; the other two are located in New Ulm and Mankato. Har-Mar also has a Hardee’s in Milbank, South Dakota.

Bolden said Hardee’s corporation has rebounded in the last several years and has returned to communities where they had been located.

He said Hardee’s struggled a little bit during a period from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. But with a change in leadership, the “arrow has been pointing up’’ during the last five to six years “and we’ve been a little more aggressive as far as getting back into some of these markets,’’ Bolden said.

“We feel we have a much better brand, much more solid operations and we’ve had a lot of success going back into communities we were in before,’’ he said.

They selected the former Hoja site because First Street is a busy area. When the opportunity came after Hoja closed, Har-Mar explored all options and came to an agreement to purchase the site.

“It moved pretty quick after that,’’ he said.

The exterior will feature three towers to give the building a different look. New signage is planned. Interior remodeling is also underway. The city of Willmar building permit lists the project cost at $290,000.

Bolden said a good team of managers has been hired and hiring of the crew will begin. Total employment will be 70 to 80 people, including 15 to 20 who will work 35 or more hours per week.

Bolden is excited to come to Willmar.

“We’ve always thought it’s a great community, offers a lot to businesses and great people,’’ he said. “We think it will be a real good partnership there.’’

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150