OUCH ! Opening in ’93 rocked rural Pamlico County’s world

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ALLIANCE Hardee’s closed on Wednesday in what appears to be an isolated instance. Other franchise and company-owned locations elsewhere appear to be doing well.

George and Catherine O’Neal

Old timers recall when ‘Charbroiled Thickburgers’ first hit the county, way back in 1993. The novelty of a real-life fast food eatery here in the backwoods took a while to wear off.


“You couldn’t get near the place,” recalled one long-time resident. “There were lines out the door. It stayed packed for a week!”

Ironically, George and Catherine O’Neal were residents of Richmond, Va in 1973 when one of the earliest Hardee’s opened its doors for the first time. Now residents of Pamlico County, the couple showed up mid-day on Tuesday to pay their last respects to the Alliance location

Judy Lane

Munching on huge bacon-wrapped burgers, the O’Neals were wistful. Between bites, George said: “I’ve always liked Hardee’s more than the other places,” as Catherine added: “It’s always seemed more like home, like family. You know, kids after ballgames and stuff like that.”

Judy Lane – on her way in to grab lunch – described herself as a former ‘biscuit cook’ at Hardee’s.

“I did it for three or four years – starting at 5 am every morning,” said Lane. “I’m really going to miss it. I’ve always liked Hardee’s!”

After confirming that the rumored closing was in fact a fait accompli, the Pamlico County Chamber of Commerce released a statement Tuesday afternoon. In an e-mail to this newspaper, Chamber president Paul Slobodian wrote:

I am sorry to hear that Hardees is closing and for the impact on our local workers who are losing their job as a result.  Nonetheless, the prospects for continued prosperity and economic growth for Pamlico County-based businesses – large and small — remain excellent.  Population in-migration to NC are amongst the highest in the country. The North Carolina Office of Budget and Management projects Pamlico County will continue to see positive in-migration. Also, in November 2017 Forbes announced that North Carolina is the BEST state for business in 2017 and notes “North Carolina has built one of the country’s strongest business climates over the past two decades.” We are the only state to rank in the top 5 for 12 straight years. We believe this will continue to provide opportunity for Pamlico County businesses, workers and residents.

In the same vein, the director of Economic Development for Pamlico County, Beth Bucksot, offered her insights for the economic setback:

“I am deeply saddened that Hardee’s is closing and for the impact it will have on the employees, business owners, and our community. As always, I am available if businesses need assistance in order to prevent having to close. Fortunately, we have a lot of hope. Pamlico County is growing, our economic trends are better, many of our businesses are hiring, we have interested parties looking to invest in business development, and we have new businesses opening in the near future. We have a great Career Center at PCC’s Bayboro Center site. This will be a tremendous asset to help displaced employees find those new jobs in our community or to potentially retrain at Pamlico Community College for other well-paying jobs.”

In next week’s issue of the County Compass, we will feature the names and phone numbers of all laid off employees who are now looking for work.