The Hartee’s Saga, Part I – Earlwood, NSW

Australia’s experiences with American-style fast food started during the Second World War. Visiting American GIs helped the relatively young nation get a taste for hamburgers with cheese and fried chicken, while the influx of immigrants to the country introduced exotic food such as the souvlaki, pizza and kebabs. The major fast food franchises of today had all originated in the USA in the 1940s and 50s, and while Australia had been content thus far to survive on meat pies, milk bars and Chinese restaurants for take away treats, the 1960s ushered in a new wave. The fast food empires saw Australia as prime territory. Kentucky Fried Chicken was first to move in, establishing its first Australian store at Guildford in Sydney’s west in 1968. Pizza Hut opened its first store in Belfield in April, 1970. In that same year, amid the American invasion, the first major Australian-owned fast food franchise opened its store in Earlwood, NSW.

The first Hartees, now The Chicken Coop, Earlwood.

Seizing on the absence of hamburger franchises thus far in Australia (McDonalds would open their first location in 1971), Kellogg Food Products Pty. Ltd. had made an agreement with the American Hardee’s chain of hamburger restaurants to create ‘Hartee’s’, an American-style burgers-‘n-fries restaurant franchise. The first Hartee’s opened here, on the corner of Homer Street and Joy Ave in Earlwood, with the take-away shop below and the head office above. Unlike many other Australian attempts to emulate the American fast food experience, Hartee’s was a success – TV and radio carried the jingle “Hurry on down to Hartee’s, where the burgers are barbecued!”. Kelloggs planned for over 100 Hartee’s locations in Australia and New Zealand, but it didn’t quite work out that way…


12 responses

  1. I remember it well…my partner thinks I have mistaken memories when I sing the Jingle

    1. “Hurry on down to Hartee’s, baby, where the burgers are barbecued. Their not just meat their whole beef steak. Not just cooked their barbecued.. so Hurry..” etc

  2. So good to read about Hartees, I loved the ads when I was young, and have sung the theme song ever since, “Hurry on down to Hartees where the burgers are barbecued…. ”

    Never knew the true story fascinating, still love the ad

  3. Nice work here! I have fond memories of Hartee’s on Princes Highway in Fairy Meadow, north of Wollongong. I loved the burgers but can’t remember them tasting like dog food. One day it was closed and a Maccas opened down the road. The building became a hardware store though I am not sure what it is now. I asked people for years if they remembered Hartee’s and nobody did. Until now, I thought I’d dreamt it.

  4. Grew up in Earlwood and remember it well. They had the thickest thick shakes ever made requiring larger than normal straws in order to suck it out. You could use the the straws for 1 cent sky rocket fights with your mates, in the bush behind the restaurant.

  5. Steve Hamilton | Reply

    At my mum’s house today throwing out my old bed complete with ‘Hurry on down to Hartees’ sticker still intact on the bedhead. Hartees’ Kogarah was right across the road from my high school and v. popular.

  6. Loved the thousand island dressing on the burgers

  7. 1973, I arrived early for an interview at the new Hartee’s 866 Doncaster Rd East Doncaster (many Chinese Restaurants since) Hundreds of kids arrived after me. The management came down from Sydney to train new managers. I lasted 10 shifts, because despite the money being great as penalties paid after 5.30pm; The demand on young guys to do the restaurant work , burnt hands on open grill AND cleaning in very short time. They employed plenty of older ladies who were not so pressured. Patties, buns and packaging were all stock taken each day, so I was surprised by the meat substitution; I guess they sold on the real patties. I only just now learned what happened half a century ago!

  8. Thanks for taking the time…I DID NOT KNOW! See my comments. Cheers

  9. Robert Greentree | Reply

    The Hartees store in Manly Vale still exists as of August 2021. I grew up in Manly Vale and used to frequent the store as a 16 year old. It’s a shame it came to an end is the burgers tasted pretty good. Can still sing the jingle, Hurry on down to hartee’s where the burgers are barbecued. Great memories

    1. By about 1980, the Manly Vale Hartees was Henry’s. It was also a burger place. I assume they were trying to recreate something like Arnold’s in Happy Days, because the time we visited in my mate’s FJ Holden, the manager made a point of coming out and telling us we were very welcome to keep coming back. I think Henry’s only existed there for a year or two

  10. There was a brand new Hartees built on High St Belmont, Geelong in 1972
    Soon to be torn down in 1974 and replaced by Macca:s who are still there.

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