As of December 31, 2018, there were a total of 6,711 locations, including 353 that are company-owned and 6,358 that are franchised; 92% of the system-wide locations are in North America. While Wendy's determines standards for each store's exterior appearance, food quality, and menu, the store owners have control over hours of operations, interior decor, pricing, staff uniforms, and wages.
The chain is known for its square hamburgers, sea salt fries, and Frosty, a form of soft-serve ice cream mixed with starches. Wendy's menu consists primarily of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries, and beverages such as the Frosty. Since phasing out their Big Classic, the company does not have a signature sandwich, such as the Burger KingWhopper or the McDonald'sBig Mac. Dave's 1⁄4 pound (110 g) Single was introduced in 2011 as Dave's Hot 'N Juicy, 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 square hamburger patties - which hang over the edge of a circular bun - as its signature item.
Wendy's "old-fashioned" hamburgers were inspired by Dave Thomas's trips to Kewpee Hamburgers in his home town of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Kewpee sold square hamburgers and thick malt shakes. Thomas founded Wendy's in Columbus, Ohio in 1969 and featured square patties with corners that stuck out from the sides of the circular bun, giving the impression of an abundance of good quality meat. The Columbus location later added a Tim Hortons and was closed on March 2, 2007, after 38 years of business, due to declining sales. Basketball star John Havlicek, an Ohio State University alumnus, was one of Thomas's earliest investors, which eventually gave Havlicek enough of an income stream to retire comfortably.
Thomas named the restaurant after his fourth child Melinda Lou "Wendy" Thomas. 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. 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.
Wendy's founded the fried chicken chain Sisters Chicken & Biscuits in 1978 and sold it to its largest franchiser in 1987. In the 1970s Wendy's opened in Australia but by 1986 almost all of their Australian stores were purchased by Hungry Jack's the Australian franchisee of Burger King, on 13 May 2021 Wendy's opened a pop-up store in The Rocks in Sydney's city centre for a day. In 1979, the first European Wendy's opened in Munich, West Germany. The same year, Wendy's became the first fast-food chain to introduce the salad bar. 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. In 1984, Wendy's opened its first restaurant in South Korea.
A busy front counter at a Wendy's restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario
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. Wendy's closed all its outlets in Hong Kong in 1986 and in Singapore in the following year.
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. 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 and thus was discontinued in 1998.
In 1989, Wendy's opened its first restaurant in Greece at Syntagma Square being the first foreign fast-food chain in the country. After opening 12 restaurants in 3 cities, the company abandoned the Greek market in 2002 due to differences with the local franchisee, although it was a very successful and profitable business at the time. 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. 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.
Garden Sensations salads were added in 2002. Wendy's signed a franchise agreement to re-enter the Singapore market in 2009, though that agreement was short-lived; in April 2015, Wendy's once again ceased operation in the country and closed all the restaurants.
In 2011, Wendy's returned to Japan and Argentina announcing a development agreement for 50 restaurants in the country. It also entered the Russian market for the first time with plans to open 180 restaurants over a 10-year period. However, only three years later, in 2014, Wendy's closed all its restaurants in the country.
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. 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. In May 2015, Wendy's announced they would be expanding into India, with its first outlet located in Gurgaon.
In 2017, the company sold 540 of its restaurants. The divesture was 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 opened 80 new restaurants and remodeled 450 of its existing locations. The brand's goal is to remodel at least 60% of its North American locations by year-end 2020.
In September 2016, JAE Restaurant Group acquired 97 Wendy's restaurants throughout the South Florida region. 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. Wendy's Co expects to sell 258 more restaurants during the rest of 2016. In total, it will be looking to sell $435 million of its restaurants.[needs update]
In December 2017, Wendy's announced a partnership with DoorDash for food delivery in the U.S.
In October 2019, Wendy's announced that it was returning to the UK market, which it had served from 1980 to 1986, then again from 1992 to 2000. The first of 20 planned restaurants was due to open in 2020 in Stoke-on-Trent, but it was later announced that the first location would open in Reading, Berkshire in the first half of 2021. The Reading location opened on 2 June 2021.
In January 2021, Wendy's announced that after the bankruptcy of franchisee NPC Quality Burgers Inc., half of NPC's outlets will be bought by Flynn Restaurant.
A Wendy's restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia during a children's birthday party
Wendy's offers two different hamburger patties, a "Junior" 1.78 ounces (50 g) patty and a "Single" 4 ounces (110 g) patty. The 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 (57 g) 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 because of its popularity and how it was much simpler to make, compared to most promotional sandwiches; 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 of Wendy's restaurants 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 also Canadian locations. The chain experimented with serving breakfast for a short time in 1985, but the endeavor proved unsuccessful due to many issues. 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.
The newer breakfast menu differs slightly from the ones featured in 1985, and it is structured similarly to its lunch/dinner menu, with value meals and various sides like blended fruit. 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. 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.
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.
In September 2019, Wendy's announced it would launch a nationwide breakfast menu in March 2020, featuring menu items that include a breakfast version of its Baconator, a Frosty-inspired coffee drink, and a honey butter chicken biscuit.
On March 2, 2020, Wendy's launched the new breakfast menu which includes 19 items.
Frosty dessert - a frozen dairy dessert sold in chocolate and vanilla flavors. The Frosty flavors are also sold as a float. Recently, Frosty Shakes - a Frosty blended with either caramel, strawberry, or chocolate fudge syrup - have been served at Wendy's.
Dave's - In late 2011, Wendy's altered the recipe for their Single, Double, and Triple burgers, which had been staples of the menu for decades, to rerelease each as part of the new Dave's Hot 'N Juicy line. As before, they were constructed from the same basic patty (and the words "Single," "Double," and "Triple" were retained at the end of the new names), but the patty was now thicker, and its square edges had been rounded off slightly. The cheese began to be stored at a warmer temperature, allowing it to melt more completely over the patty, alterations were made to the bun, and the selection of produce (white onions were replaced by red onions), and the condiments now consisted of ketchup and mayonnaise rather than ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. They were updated in 2016 and renamed as simply Dave's, now using bakery-style buns.
Big Classic - A sandwich that directly competed with the Burger King Whopper (no longer available in US stores). Mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, and onions served on a Kaiser-style roll. A second version with bacon was available, called the Big Bacon Classic, which was replaced with the Bacon Deluxe in 2009 when the Applewood Smoked Bacon was introduced.
Baconator - Single Baconator is one quarter-pound patty topped with mayonnaise, ketchup, three strips of bacon, and two slices of cheese; Double Baconator has mayonnaise, ketchup, six strips of bacon, two 1⁄4 pound (110 g) patties, and three slices of American cheese; and the Triple Baconator (1360 Calories or kilocalories) is three quarter-pound patties with nine strips of bacon, four slices of cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
Bacon Mushroom Melt - is a beef hamburger featuring smoked bacon, portobello mushrooms and cheddar cheese sauce. It was first available in the early 1990s and was very popular in some countries across the world like Greece and Philippines. In later years in some countries it is referred to as the Baconator Mushroom Melt or the Bacon Portabella Mushroom Melt with an extra slice of cheese.
Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger - Introduced in January 2014, the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger is made with a quarter-pound beef patty, aged Asiago cheese, thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, rosemary garlic aïoli, and oven-roasted tomatoes. At launch, the sandwich was priced at $4.79 in the United States and was part of a strategy to market higher-priced menu items to help position Wendy's as a premium fast-food chain. Wendy's advertised the sandwich as a limited-time product that would be withdrawn in March 2014. According to the company, the sandwich has 670 calories. The debut of the burger received positive reviews. Syndicated fast food columnist Ken Hoffman called the burger "another winner" and "worth the carbs," while the Phoenix New Times declared it was "one of the better burgers in the entire fast-food industry." Reviewers at the Sioux City Journal offered more mixed evaluations, with only two of four taste testers saying they would be likely to try the burger a second time.
Black bean burger - Wendy's and a number of major fast-food chains have been targeted for decades for meatless entrees, typically, meatless 'veggieburgers' - and Wendy's response is the black bean burger (still in 'beta' testing in Salt Lake City, Utah; Columbus, Ohio; and Columbia, South Carolina). Its major ingredients are black beans, wild rice, farro, onions, brown rice, carrots, quinoa, corn, green bell peppers, and red bell peppers; and the sauce and seasonings include red wine vinegar, chili peppers, cumin, cilantro, oregano, and sea salt.
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. Last update: Advertising(July 2013)
Wendy's past typeface
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 Democraticprimary 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 Pregospaghetti sauce, saying "I found it, I really found it", a phrase alluding to the beef in the listener's mind.
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.
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.
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 (however, they would reunite in 2013).
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, "It's waaaay delicious. It's Wendy's." 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. In April 2012, Morgan Smith Goodwin began appearing as the redhead in ads with the slogan "Now that's better." In 2013, social media advertising featuring Nick Lachey directed at millennials promoted the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger.
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.
1985-1988: Choose Fresh, choose Wendy's (Originally used alongside "Where's the Beef?")
1987-1993: Give a little nibble was to be a catchy phrase that would capture the attention of consumers and help make Wendy's a major player on the fast-food scene once again. This television commercial was a flop and sent Wendy's hunting for a new advertising agency. After a poorly received seven-week run, Wendy's pulled the television commercials created by Dick Rich Inc. The "nibble" spots were meant to emphasize Wendy's better-tasting hamburger. They showed customers ripping off chunks of meat from an absurdly large hamburger.
1988-1992: The best burgers in the business.
1989-1998: The best burgers and a whole lot more (also was printed inside the hamburger wrappers during the 1990s)
^Dovrat, Zehava (July 21, 1996). "Wendy's Burger Chain Seeks Franchisee to Renew Activity in Israel". Globes. Retrieved 2018. Wendy's has already tried its luck in Israel. It entered activities in Israel nine years ago through the Blue Square supermarket chain, then managed by Benny Gaon. The chain was operated by the franchise method and reached six branches. [People] in the industry say that the chain failed due to managerial problems and a poor marketing plan. In addition, [Israelis] simply didn't like the product.
^Davide Dukcevich (April 9, 2002). "Wendy's Salad Days". Forbes. Retrieved 2007. Earlier this month, Wendy's released a new advertising tagline, "It's Better Here," as part of a campaign that purports to showcase Dublin, Ohio, where it has its headquarters.