The U.S., California-based hamburger chain Carl’s Jr. offered Costa Rica an alternative to Thanksgiving on Thursday, opening its first-ever location near the Central Park in downtown San José. The growing chain, which operates 3,182 restaurants worldwide, plans to open 25 locations in Costa Rica during the next five years. Two more locations will be inaugurated before the end of the year, at the food court in Mall San Pedro, east of San José, and at Plaza Real Cariari on the highway to the airport, northwest of the capital.
“It is an honor to open a restaurant chain of premium hamburgers in Costa Rica,” said Andrés Fachler, general director of Gold Star Burgers, S.A., which will oversee the chain’s national development. “We offer a variety of burgers, including jalapeño and chili burgers, and we are certain that Costa Ricans are going to enjoy their experience at Carl’s Jr.”
At the restaurant’s inauguration, Fachler and Ron Coolbaugh, vice president of international operations for CKE Restaurants, showed guests a promotional video about the chain that featured a montage of people taking monstrous bites out of Carl’s Jr. burgers. The chain is known for its advertisements featuring celebrities eating Carl’s Jr. burgers and salads, and the video lived up to expectations with clips of former baseball slugger Mark McGwire and Hollywood starlets Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian chomping into fresh burgers. In 2009, a commercial for Carl’s Jr. featured Kardashian, famous for her role in the reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” eating a salad and taking a bubble bath. The commercial closes with a narrator asking, “Who says salads can’t be hot?”
While no racy advertising campaigns are yet to be launched in Costa Rica, Fachler said the chain will distinguish itself from competitors by offering table-side service with orders delivered to seated customers, rather than clients waiting in line for their orders to be prepared. Restaurant interiors will be decorated with images from California, such as the iconic Hollywood sign and Santa Monica harbor arch.
Carl’s Jr. offers a broad range of burger options made with Black Angus beef, including the single-patty Famous Star, Western Bacon burger, Portobello burger and Chili Cheese burger. Jalapeño and Guacamole Bacon burgers are also offered, as well as several chicken burgers, chicken fingers, fish and chips, salads, waffle fries and desserts such as shakes and ice cream. Tico staples such as gallo pinto will also be available.
According to Coolbaugh, Carl’s Jr. invested over $3 million in the Costa Rican expansion. The chain has more than 1,200 international locations in countries like China, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Turkey, New Zealand and Panama.