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Hardees returns to Covington
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Hardee's is once again coming to Covington, for the third time, and will locate in the same building it originally built nearly 30 years ago.

Hardee's will reopen in the former Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits location, 3112 U.S. Highway 278, Covington, which before that housed a Hardee's from 1983 until the mid-2000s.

Jerry Bouchillon, who owns the land, confirmed that the property was being subleased to Hardee's. AFC Enterprises, Popeyes parent corporation, has a long-term lease on the property and will now sublease it to Biscuits and Burgers, a Colorado-based company that operates many Hardee's franchises.

Hardee's could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and an opening date was not listed on the sign at the property. However, Bouchillon said he believed the company had a 90-day construction period, so the restaurant could open in late 2012. Based on the plans he saw, Bouchillon said the company was going to modify the interior of the building and do limited exterior repairs, including work on the parking lot.

"I think it will do pretty good. Hardee's has always done a good breakfast, but if you don't have a good operator you can't make a go in today's market," Bouchillon said, who said Biscuits and Burgers operates the Conyers location, which is the closest Hardee's, and other locations in the state.

Bouchillon said he was told by Hardee's officials that the only reason the fast-food restaurant left in the first place was because of poor management.

"The food business is one of those things that if you don't have a good operator, you don't have anything," Bouchillon said. "You have to have a lot of volume, because you have overhead, significant rent - labor is cheap - but food costs are fairly high."
A Hardee's franchise used to be located in the early 1970s at the intersection of Industrial Boulevard and U.S. Highway 278, where a Mamie's Kitchen is now; a Hardee's corporate store later built the building at the Pace Street location, which was then taken over by a franchisee.

The location has been vacant for two years since Popeye's closed down in August 2010. Bouchillon said other fast food restaurants inquired about the location, including Burger King, but it took two years to fill the vacancy.

"We were bothered by it sitting empty, but AFC was doing what it was required to do, paying its rent and taxes and maintaining the grounds all the time," he said.

Bouchillon said he believes Hardee's will be successful in Covington, but, for his part, he has no plans to ever enter the restaurant business again.

"My family stayed in the restaurant business a year and a half maximum, when (we) built a place in the 1950s," he said. "We got out of the restaurant business and have been landlords ever since."