HEFLIN — Doug Norton, 77, pulled his car up to the Hardee’s in Heflin Tuesday afternoon as he has done frequently for the last 15 years, but this time his visit ended in disappointment. The Heflin eatery had closed the day before, leaving Norton and other patrons driving slowly through the parking lot with puzzled looks on their faces.
A company known as HNI LLC, the owner of the Heflin Hardee’s, closed six Alabama Hardee’s on Monday as part of a restructuring effort, according to HNI director of operations Ron Mason.
“We just decided to close down some of our underperforming units so we could refocus our efforts on developing more in the Birmingham market,” Mason said on Tuesday.
Houston-based HNI LLC owns 33 Hardee’s and eight Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the Southeast.
The other Hardee’s closed on Monday include the restaurants in Oxford, Springville, Leeds, Pell City and Pinson. The Anniston Hardee’s on Alabama 202 will remain open, according to Mason.
Signs on the door at the Heflin Hardee’s bore a message for the employees.
“We have attempted to contact you to give you a job at another location. If we have not been able to reach you, please contact Ron Mason,” and a phone number was listed for the employees to call.
“Every one of them has been offered employment at other locations,” Mason said.
The notice on the door also indicated that employees will receive their pay on the regularly scheduled payday.
Mason said the company is “actively looking for sites” for locations for new Hardee’s.
The closing of the Hardee’s comes on the heels of the announcement in December that BB&T Bank in Heflin will shutter in April.
Just last week the Heflin Hardee’s had a First Responders Appreciation Day and hosted Cleburne law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs to a free breakfast and gave them a metal tumbler that could have been used for unlimited free drink refills.
On Tuesday the menus had been removed from inside the restaurant and on the drive-through window.
For Norton, though, the closure was not unexpected because he said the restaurant had been “dropping the ball” in recent months.
Norton walked slowly back to his car.
“I’ll go back to Jack’s, I guess,” he said.