By Paula Walter
This past Saturday, the Hardees located in Mountain City celebrated not only its 35th birthday in its current location, but guests and patrons recognized the retirement of Mike White, who has been a district manager at the Mountain City location since 1991. White has been a Hardees employee since 1973, serving in other areas. According to White, he has plans after retirement that include working part time so he has lots of time to spend with his family. “I loved opening restaurants and being able to work with people and watch them grow,” said White as he reflected on his lengthy career. “Thank you for having us as a part of the community. Without the people here, our lives would be so much less. Johnson County is a wonderful place with wonderful people. I am blessed to be here.”
White’s family, including his wife, daughter, son-in law and two grandchildren joined in on the festivities of the day. “My dad always kept the store open for emergency crews during disaster,” said daughter Tara. “He always made sure they had food and water.” Cory Hastings, son of the owner, Jim Hastings, has known White since he was very young. “I remember him coming in early and staying late,” he said. “I consider him family.”
Hardee’s restaurants first began in Greenville, North Carolina in 1960. The Mountain City Hardees’s opened in 1981, and in 1990 the Hastings Company, the current owners, bought the thriving business. Approximately 6,000 customers are served each week at Hardees in Mountain City. Their best selling item is biscuits and gravy. Their steady stream of customers includes Kate Wilson. “Kate Wilson, who is 90 years old, has been coming in for breakfast every day since we’ve opened unless she is sick or it snowed,” said White’s wife, Cheryl.
According to Bryan Haas, the son-in-law of Jim Hastings, Hardees stands out over other fast food restaurants because of their great employees. “Our goal for the future at this location is to re-image the store in 2018.”
The Hastings group mission statement is to develop, nurture and challenge employees to be better people while meeting business goals. They donated, on behalf of the Mountain City Hardees location, monies to the Mountain City Rescue Squad, the Mountain City Fire Department and Johnson County High School. There was a drawing for $3,500, and Chris Roark was the lucky winner.