George Robert Johnson was born in the small town of Calhoun, Tennessee. He attended Tennessee Wesleyan College before joining the Navy during the Korean War. He graduated from The University of Tennessee in 1957 with a degree in Industrial Management. He was working for Magic Chef Stove Company in Rocky Mount, North Carolina when he discovered a new restaurant concept called Hardee’s. He and wife Doris Bolen Johnson signed a franchise development agreement for Tennessee and built their first Hardee’s restaurant in Athens, TN in 1966 and the second in Cleveland, TN in 1967. The family moved back to Cleveland after the opening of the second Hardee’s. George and Doris continued to expand the business over the years and today the Johnson family operates Hardee’s restaurants in thirteen counties in East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.
The George R. Johnson Family Foundation was founded by Mr. Johnson to benefit the communities where the Hardee’s restaurants are located. The Foundation has been making grants for over twenty years. The mission of the Foundation is to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves by supporting programs that improve the education, health, or general welfare of the people in these communities. The family is thankful for their loyal Hardee’s customers and employees who have patronized and supported area Hardee’s for over sixty years, making it possible to give back to their neighborhoods and communities.
Grants made by the foundation vary in scope and size from large grants and capital campaigns, such as grants to colleges, universities, and hospitals; to small grants such as to the Dolly Parton Imagination Libraries. United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and Boys and Girls Clubs in our thirteen-county area also benefit from the support of the foundation.
The members of the Board of Directors are: Beverly and Mark Johnson, Julia Johnson Scoggins, and Executive Director Janice Johnson Wilson. Mark Johnson is CEO and Julia Scoggins is President/COO of J&S Restaurants, Inc. which continues to operate the Hardee’s Restaurants.