The fast-food chain Hardee's is expanding into the Northeast with a plan to open about 200 new restaurants in the next five years.

The expansion will begin in New Jersey and New York, followed by Connecticut and Massachusetts, the company said. The first of the new restaurants should open in 12-18 months. Hardee's said the number of restaurants in the Northeast could eventually reach 1,000, but no timetable was given for an expansion of that magnitude.

The restaurants will be stand-alone and will include drive-thru service, said Bhupen Patel, the franchisee who will operate the new restaurants.

Hardee's, known for its provocative advertising and huge calorie-laden hamburgers, is based in St. Louis and is a division of Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE Restaurants. Hardee's has nearly 2,000 restaurants.

Patel said he had been seeking a burger brand partner, "and as soon as I learned there was interest and the potential to reopen Hardee's here in the Northeast, I knew I had found what I was seeking."

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The chain used to operate restaurants in the Northeast, but all had closed by the 1990s. Hardee's was acquired by CKE in 1997 and has experienced a turnaround since then.

Jim Sullivan, senior vice president of domestic franchise development for CKE, called the expansion "a massive advance into prime territory and a tremendous opportunity for a highly anticipated return."