For the current parent company previously called DWG and Triarc, see The Wendy's Company. For the Australian franchise chain, see Wendy's Supa Sundaes.
Industry Restaurant
Founded November 15, 1969 (1969-11-15)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Founder Dave Thomas
Headquarters 1 Dave Thomas Boulevard, Dublin, Ohio, United States
Number of locations
6,503[1] (September 30, 2016)
Area served
Key people


Revenue Decrease US$1.8703 billion (2015[3])
Increase US$274.5 million (2015[3])
Increase US$161.1 million (2015[3])
Owner The Wendy's Company
Number of employees
21,200 (Q4 2015[3])
Parent Wendy's International
Website www.wendys.com

Wendy's is an American international fast food restaurant chain founded by Dave Thomas on November 15, 1969, in Columbus, Ohio, United States. The company moved its headquarters to Dublin, Ohio, on January 29, 2006. As of 2016, Wendy's was the world's third largest hamburger fast food chain with 6,503 locations,[1] following Burger King's 15,243 locations and McDonald's' 36,615 locations.[4][5][6] On April 24, 2008, the company announced a merger with Triarc Companies Inc., a publicly traded company and the parent company of Arby's. Despite the new ownership, Wendy's headquarters remained in Dublin.[7] Previously, Wendy's had rejected more than two buyout offers from Triarc. Following the merger, Triarc became known as Wendy's/Arby's Group, and later as The Wendy's Company.

As of September 30, 2016, there were a total of 6,503 locations, including 427 that are company-owned. 6,076 restaurants are franchised, and 77% of them are located in North America. Wendy's and its affiliates employ more than 47,000 people in its global operations. In fiscal year 2006, the firm had $2.469 billion (USD) in total sales.[8] While Wendy's sets standards for exterior store appearance, food quality and menu, individual owners have control over hours of operations, interior decor, pricing and staff uniforms and wages.

Wendy's menu consists primarily of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries and beverages, including the signature Frosty, which is a soft serve frozen dairy dessert. Since phasing out their famous "Big Classic", the company does not have a signature sandwich, such as the Burger King Whopper or the McDonald's Big Mac. Although, by default the "signature sandwich" spot seems to have been filled by Dave's 1/4 lb. Single (introduced in 2011 as Dave's Hot 'N Juicy as a reworking of the longstanding Wendy's Single, shortened to simply Dave's in 2016), a square-pattied burger made with fresh ground beef rather than round frozen patties. Wendy's uses these square hamburger patties – which hang over the edge of a circular bun – as its signature item.


Wendy's flagship restaurant in Dublin, Ohio.[9]

The chain is known for its square hamburgers, sea salt fries and the Frosty, a form of soft serve ice cream mixed with frozen starches. The idea for Wendy's "old fashioned" hamburgers was inspired by Dave Thomas's trips to Kewpee Hamburgers in his home town of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Kewpee sold square hamburgers and thick malt shakes, much like the well-known restaurant that Thomas eventually founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969. Square patties had corners that stuck out so that customers could easily see the quality of the meat.[10] The Columbus location later added a Tim Hortons and was closed on March 2, 2007, after 38 years of business due to declining sales.[11][12] Thomas named the restaurant after his fourth child Melinda Lou "Wendy" Thomas.[13] Photographs of her were on display at the original Wendy's restaurant until it closed. In August 1972, the first Wendy's franchisee, L.S. Hartzog, signed an agreement for Indianapolis, Indiana.[14] Also, in 1972, Wendy's aired its first TV commercials that were only broadcast locally in Ohio. This series of commercials was titled "C'mon to Wendy's", because they stressed Wendy's superiority through the "Quality Is Our Recipe" slogan and featured an animated Wendy similar to the one from the corporate logo along with dancing hamburgers.

The first Canadian restaurant also opened in Hamilton, ON in 1976.[15] In December 1976, Wendy's opened its 500th restaurant, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Wendy's founded the fried chicken chain Sisters Chicken in 1978, and sold it to its largest franchiser in 1987.[16]

In 1979, the first European Wendy's opened in Munich.[17] The same year Wendy's became the first fast-food chain to introduce the salad bar.[18]

Wendy's entered the Asian market by opening its first restaurants in Japan in 1980, in Hong Kong in 1982 and in the Philippines and Singapore in 1983.[19][20][21][22] In 1984 Wendy's opened its first restaurant in South Korea.[23]

In response to a 1986 slowdown in the chain's performance, Wendy's restructured its cleanliness standards, menu and other operational details to ensure that stores met the goals and standards of the parent company so that its franchises were competitive in the market.[8] Wendy's closed all its outlets in Hong Kong in 1986 and in Singapore in the following year.[20][22]

A Wendy's restaurant in Kingston, Ontario, built just before the introduction of the new logo in 2012.

From 1988 to 1990 Wendy's expanded operations globally to Mexico, New Zealand, Indonesia, Greece, Turkey, Guatemala, as well as the U.S. Naval Base in Naples, Italy.[24][25] In 1988, Wendy's expanded its bar to a full-blown buffet called the Superbar for $2.99. The Superbar had various stations: "Mexican Fiesta", the Italian "Pasta Pasta," and the "Garden Spot", salad and fruit. The Superbar was popular but difficult to maintain thus was discontinued in 1998.[26]

In 1989, Wendy's opened its first restaurant in Greece at Syntagma Square being the first foreign fast food chain in the country. After opened 12 restaurants in 3 cities the company finally abandoned the Greek market in 2002.[27]

In 1996, the chain expanded in Argentina by opening 18 local restaurants. However, all of them closed only four years later due to the economic crisis in the country.[28]

In 1998, Wendy's pulled out of South Korea by closing all its 15 restaurants and in 2000 exited from the UK, Argentina and Hong Kong.[17][23][29]

Garden Sensations salads were added in 2002.[18]

Wendy's signed a franchise agreement to re-enter the Singapore market in 2009[22] though that agreement was short lived; in April 2015, Wendy's ceased operation in the country and closed all the restaurants.[30]

In 2011 Wendy's returned to Japan and Argentina announcing a development agreement for 50 restaurants in the country.[31][32] It also entered the Russian market for first time with plans to open 180 restaurants over a 10-year period.[33]

In 2013 Wendy's opened the first restaurant in Georgia and made a deal to open 25 restaurants in Georgia and the Republic of Azerbaijan.[34]

In 2014 Wendy's closed all its restaurants in Russia.[33] In September 2014 several pork based products were introduced to be on sale until early November. These included a standard pulled pork sandwich with slaw and three sauce options, a BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger and cheese fries with pulled pork, cheddar cheese sauce, onions and barbecue sauce.[35]

In May 2015, Wendy's announced they would be expanding into India, with its first outlet located in Gurgaon.[36]

Wendy's is planning to sell 540 of its restaurants. The divesture is the second step in a three-step action plan to improve the brand. Other steps include new openings and remodeling of existing stores. In 2015, the brand expects to open 80 new restaurants. It will remodel 450 of its existing locations. The brand's goal is to remodel at least 60% of its North American locations by 2020 year-end.[37] In September 2016, it was announced that JAE Restaurant Group had acquired 97 Wendy's restaurants throughout the South Florida region.[38] JAE Restaurant Group is one of the country’s largest franchisee owners. The Group owns 177 Wendy’s Restaurants. Wendy’s Co. has been looking to remodel existing stores and upgrade the curb appeal of its locations. They have been doing this by adding fireplaces, more seating options, adding WiFi and flat screen TVs, and digital menus.[38] Wendy’s Co expects to sell 258 more restaurants during the rest of 2016. In total they will be looking to sell $435 million of its restaurants.


Wendy's offers two different hamburger patties, a "Junior" 1.78 ounce (50.4 gram) patty and its "Single" 4 ounce (113.4 gram) patty. 4-ounce patties are sold in single, double and triple sizes whereas the junior patties sell in single and double patties. The previous size of 2 ounces per junior patty was altered to its current size in 2007 to save on expenses from rising food costs. Originally Wendy's had only two kinds of chicken sandwiches, fried and grilled. The spicy chicken sandwich started out as a promotional sandwich. It was later put on the menu full-time in 1996 due to its popularity and the fact that, compared to most promotional sandwiches, it was much simpler to make (it used the same condiments as the standard breaded chicken sandwich).

The Frescata line of sandwiches also went from being promotional items to main-menu items. After going through several revisions, the Turkey and Swiss and the Ham and Swiss were put on the menu full-time. However, the Frescata sandwiches were discontinued in mid December 2007.

Occasionally, some Wendy's restaurants would offer a fried fish sandwich for some of its customers who desire fish instead of beef or chicken.

In 1988, Wendy's was the first fast-food chain to create a single price-point value menu where all items listed on that menu were priced exclusively at 99¢. The menu was restructured in 2007 due to rising costs as the Super Value Menu with prices ranging from 99¢ to $2.00 USD.


In mid-2007 Wendy's began a national debut of its new breakfast menu in its U.S. and Canadian stores. Wendy's experimented with serving breakfast for a short time in 1985, but the endeavor was unsuccessful due to many issues.[39][40] While approximately 12 Wendy's restaurants in the U.S. and its territories have been serving breakfast since then, Wendy's has not had a company-wide breakfast offering.[40][41] The new breakfast menu was expected be fully deployed to all Wendy's in the United States by the end of 2009, but as of July 2014, many Wendy's franchises across the country still do not have a breakfast menu.

The newer breakfast menu differs slightly from the one featured in 1985, and it is structured similarly to its lunch/dinner menu, with value meals and various sides like blended fruit.[41] Menu items include several breakfast sandwiches served on biscuits, frescuit and Kaiser rolls, breakfast burritos and side orders of hash browns, muffins, and cinnamon sticks.[42] In order to avoid the same issues the original 1985 breakfast offerings faced, the new menu was designed for ease of operation, lower costs, and reduced preparation time.[40]

In January 2016, Wendy's announced a transition plan to source only cage-free eggs by the year 2020 in all U.S. and Canadian locations that serve breakfast.[43][44]

Notable menu items

A busy front counter at a Wendy's restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario
A Wendy's outlet in Manila, Philippines.


After successful early growth of the chain, sales flattened as the company struggled to achieve brand differentiation in the highly competitive fast-food market. This situation would turn around in the mid-1980s. Starting on January 9, 1984, elderly actress Clara Peller was featured in the successful "Where's the Beef?" North American commercial campaign written by Cliff Freeman. Her famous line quickly entered the American pop culture (it was even used by Walter Mondale in a debate with Gary Hart in the Democratic primary election) and served to promote Wendy's hamburgers. Peller, age 83, was dropped from the campaign in 1985 because she performed in a commercial for Prego spaghetti sauce, saying she "finally found" the beef.[56]

Peller was soon after replaced by Wendy's founder Dave Thomas himself. Soft-spoken and bashful, the "Dave" ads generally focused on Thomas praising his products and offering a commitment to quality service, although there would occasionally be "wackier" ads as well. Thomas ultimately appeared in more than 800 commercials, more than any other company founder in television history.[57]

In 1997, the company pulled its advertising from the sitcom Ellen after the show's main character came out as a lesbian. The result was a boycott initiated by the gay and lesbian community.[58]

After Dave Thomas' death in 2002, Wendy's struggled to find a new advertising campaign. After a round of conventional ads describing the food they serve, in 2004 they tried using a character they made called "Mr. Wendy" who claimed to be the unofficial spokesperson for the chain. These proved to be extremely unsuccessful. After seven months, Wendy's returned to an animated campaign focusing on the difference between Wendy's square hamburgers and the round hamburgers of competitors.

Wendy's marketing arm engages in product placement in films and television and is sometimes seen on ABC's reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, serving food to the more than 100 construction workers.

A 2007 Wendy's commercial featured the tune from the Violent Femmes song "Blister in the Sun." The inclusion of the song in the commercial provoked an internal conflict between members of the Violent Femmes, which resulted in a lawsuit between bassist Brian Ritchie and lead singer Gordon Gano that ultimately led to the band disbanding in 2009.[59][60]

With their "That's right" ad campaign not a success, Wendy's unveiled a new ad campaign, featuring the animated version of their mascot voiced by Luci Christian highlighting certain menu items. The new ad campaign made its debut in late January 2008, with slogans: in the USA: "It's waaaay better than fast food. It's Wendy's." and in Canada,"Its waaaay delicious. It's Wendy's." [61] The company's slogan, "you know when it's real," was introduced in 2010.

In November 2010, a series of commercials aired featuring the company's namesake, Wendy Thomas, which marked the first time she had appeared in a Wendy's advertisement.[62][63]

In April 2012, Morgan Smith Goodwin began appearing as the redhead in ads with the slogan "Now that's better."[64][65] In 2013, social media advertising featuring Nick Lachey directed at millennials promoted the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger.[66]

A 2014 campaign to promote the Tuscan Chicken on Ciabatta sandwich entitled "L'Estrella de la Toscana," or "Star of Tuscany" in English was launched on television and social media.[67] A 2014 campaign to promote the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was run until November 2014 was shown to many people watching TV starting on March 18, 2014


United States – Canada



Until 2014 Wendy's and other fast food chains used Azodicarbonamide as a bread whitener and dough conditioner.[75]

See also


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