American burger chain Carl’s Jr will this month open its first South Australian store – and only the third in Australia – in Mt Barker.

Frank Agostino and the Agostino Group have the exclusive licence for the restaurants in SA and the Northern Territory, with a spokesperson telling InDaily today that the Mt Barker store would be the first of a number of planned openings at various sites over the next few years

Started in America in the 1940s, Carl’s Jr promotes itself as the pioneer of “the great American burger”.

It has attracted controversy in the past with its provocative advertising campaigns featuring scantily clad models, but announced a couple of months ago that it was dumping the ads and adopting a new marketing approach to put the focus firmly back on “burgers, not boobs”.

The first Carl’s Jr Down Under opened in February last year in the town of Bateau Bay, on the NSW Central Coast, and was heralded as the start of a push that could see more than 300 outlets sprout up in Australia over the next decade.

There’s been just one more opening since then – at Brisbane Airport.

The Mt Barker Carl’s Jr will be in the BP service station, part of the Agostino Group’s AM/PM network of stations, on Dutton Road, near the Park and Ride.

Staff – or “stars”, as the company calls them – are being sought, with posters in the township calling for applications under the headline “Because bacon won’t cook itself”.

The Agostino Group spokesperson told InDaily the outlet was scheduled to open on July 22: “The opening in Bateau Bay attracted lots of attention, with people lining up 24 hours prior to launch. We expect the same to happen in Mt Barker.”

This is encouraged by the fact that the first 50 people through the door are promised a free meal on the day and free food every week for the next year.

A couple of years ago, the Agostino Group unsuccessfully sought development approval to build a Hungry Jack’s next to its service station at St Peters.

The Group spokesperson said the fact that Mt Barker had a growing population, “with a strong community who support local business”, made it an attractive site for Carl’s Jr outlet.

Another SA Carl’s Jr will open at the end of the year in an undisclosed location, with two to three more planned across this state and the Northern Territory each year “for the foreseeable future”.

In a media release spruiking the opening of the Carl’s Jr at Bateau Bay at the beginning of last year, US parent company CKE Restaurants Holdings claimed Aussies had been eagerly anticipating its arrival for months.

“Australia is a key expansion market for Carl’s Jr and we believe that our premium quality, innovative menu items, along with our best-in-class customer service and bold, edgy advertising approach, is a perfect fit for Australia and its Young, Hungry Guys and Gals,” CKE international president Ned Lyerly said in the release at the time.

Carl’s Jr’s registered and trademarked offerings include a range of “Thickburgers”, “Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes” and “Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders”.

Lindsay Brennan, general manager of the BKG Group which has the NSW franchise, told InDaily the chain was “starting to gain some traction” interstate.

Brennan said the outlets were “a bit more upmarket” than those of some competing chains: “Somewhere between a Macca’s and a Grill’d”.

The Mt Barker Carl’s Jr’s appearance on Google Maps has sparked a string of comments on Reddit by people offering comparisons with other restaurants. Journalist Thomas Loomes offered this verdict on The New Daily shortly after the NSW outlet opened (and before the saucy ads were dropped).

Extracted from InDaily.