Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, loved the KewPee Burgers so much, he decided to make a similar restaurant chain.
Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers was founded in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Thomas named the restaurant after his fourth child, Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas. The chain features square hamburger patties and Frosties, which are milkshakes thickened with starch. Thomas liked the idea of square burgers that stuck out from the bun. He believed customers would be impressed with the quality of the meat they could see.
In 1970, Thomas opened a second location in Columbus. This location would add the first modern drive-thru window in 1971 that used speakers, rather than waitress on rollerskates.
In 1972, the first franchise is sold.
By 1976, there are 500 restaurants and the company goes public on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol: WEN.
In 1978, the 1000th location opens.
In 1979, Wendy’s was the first chain to introduce a salad bar.
By 1983, there are 2500 locations.
In 1985, the company merges with Tim Hortons.
By 1987, there are 5000 locations.
In 2002, founder Dave Thomas dies.
In 2008, the company merged with Triac, owner of Arby’s.
In 2011, the company sold its majority share of Arby’s to the Roark Capital Group due to lackluster sales. The company continues to hold an 18.5% interest in Arby’s.
In 2014, the company decided to close all locations in Russia and begin doing business in India instead, with the first restaurant being located in Gurgaon.
On May 26, 2016, the company announced that Todd Penegor would replace Emil Brolick as CEO and President. Gunther Plosch will succeed Penegor as CFO.
In July of 2016, Wendy’s warned customers that their computer system had been hacked and that customers debit card and credit card information was stolen from approximately 1,025 of their restaurants located in the US.
The company is beta-testing a meatless burger made from black beans in an attempt to lure in vegan and vegetarian customers.
In January of 2018, the company announced the opening of their 500th international location in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Today, Wendy’s is the third largest hamburger fast food chain in the world with nearly 7000 restaurants worldwide.