Fast food · Fun · Pop Culture · United States

November 15, 1969–Wendy’s Opens its First Location

Wendy's Logo

I’ve done a lot of heavy posts. WW1, Ellis Island, lots of King Henry and those in his life.

Today, I needed something light…and fun! And I found light and fun by total accident. Last night, I was researching today’s historical events and a video or sound clip started auto-playing. Of course, I had a football game on another open window on half my screen, so I was not listening to the narrator tell me events from November 15th at all. I was trying to find said clip to turn it OFF. First world problems. As luck would have it, just as I found the dang play/pause/stop buttons, the narrator told me that the first ever Wendy’s was opened on November 15, 1969. This was not on any of my lists!

It had to be done.

I love Wendy’s! And I love 50s, 60s, and 70s pop culture. Probably because I wasn’t there, but that’s beside the point.

I know nothing of the history of Wendy’s, so I’m warning you now that I’ll be citing my sources throughout this post as I learn new stuff.

The Wendy’s Story– from

The Wendy’s Story

The first Wendy’s was opened by Dave Thomas in Columbus, OH in 1969. The next year, in 1970, a second location was opened in Columbus. However, this location was going to try out a new innovation–a drive-through window. To make this successful, they installed “a second grill” just for the window.

Obviously, this new venture was going to be a chain. Canada got a hold of the new fast-food restaurant and opened a location of their own in 1975.

Now that they were an official chain, Wendy’s “went public” offering “public stock offering on the NASDAQ exchange, issuing one million common shares of stock, at $28 per share’ in 1976.

I’m reading and learning about this fledgling little chain and here I’m thinking they have all of THREE locations as they open on the stock market. Well…read the next line and you’ll realize, like I did, that the numbers of locations for this chain were EXPLODING at an incredibly rapid pace….

In 1976–the same year they debuted on the stock market NASDAQ–Wendy’s hit their “500th restaurant milestone, with a new restaurant in Toronto, Canada.” More of the Wendy’s Story

In April of 1977, “Wendy’s unveils its first network television commercial, becoming the first quick-service chain with less than 1,000 restaurants to launch a national advertising campaign.”

In 1978, they finally hit that 1000 restaurant milestone with a location in Tennessee.

I remember as a child, I loved the salad bar along the side of the restaurant. It was salad but it also was a potato bar, if I remember correctly. As I was reading the next milestone Wendy’s had, it just occurred to me that I haven’t seen said salad bar in a LONG time

In November of 1979, Wendy’s added a salad bar to its offerings as part of a “menu diversification program.”

In 1980, just two years after the 1000th restaurant milestone, Wendy’s shot that record out of the air by opening its 2000th restaurant!

In 1981, Wendy’s joined the NYSE–New York Stock Exchange.

In 1983, Wendy’s diversified their menu even more with one of my all-time favorites, the baked potato.

In 1984, Wendy’s debuted their “Where’s the Beef” nationwide commercial–which subsequently was the most popular commercial of that year. I had a nightgown that said “Where’s the Beef?” on it as a kid. We have picture proof. It’s ironic that I’m the one that wore it, yet I have no clue to which it was referring other than it was a Wendy’s slogan. I’m going to post a link to a commercial here so I feel less like a fraud for having sported that nightgown.

At this point in my research, I’m realizing Wendy’s was a force to be reckoned with… by the time it was 15-years-old, Wendy’s had 2,900 restaurants located in 14 different countries. This was in 1984. By the very next year, Wendy’s opened its 3000 restaurant.

In 1989, Wendy’s decided to debut commercials with founder Dave Thomas. He went on to “star in over 800 commercials” total as a beloved icon. Also in 1989, Wendy’s launched the “Super Value Meal” that offered “nine quality items available every day for just 99 cents each.”

In 1990, Wendy’s launches an Adoption promotion campaign. As part of this program, Wendy’s has committed “thousands of hours and millions of dollars to raise adoption awareness.”–I truly didn’t know this, and having experience adoption from both the adopted side and the side sharing a family member through adoption, this touched my heart.

AH! I got my answer to the missing salad bar! In 1992, Wendy’s debuted 5 “to go” salads as part of their diverse menu.

Oh…. in 1992, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®  is created.

The 4000th location of Wendy’s was opened in 1992.

In 1994, Wendy’s begins the High School Heisman® program that honors amazing students with great accomplishments in school and in sports.

In 2002, Founder Dave Thomas passes away. He was 69 years old at his death.

In June 2003, Wendy’s opens a Research and Development Innovation Center in Dublin, OH.

In 2004, Wendy’s offers Kids’ Meal healthier options at no extra cost. –As a parent, I appreciated this move! Also in 2004, Wendy’s allowed customers to pick-and-choose sides for their combo meals such as substituting fries for a baked potato. This was ALSO a move I greatly appreciated.

In 2006, Wendy’s debuted the Vanilla Frosty™, a move my daughter much appreciates. She likes to be different.

Hmmm. A big reason I do this blog is because I don’t know what I don’t know–I love to research. Here’s a thing I learned today that made me go “hmm:” Wendy’s and Arby’s merged in 2008. I didn’t know they merged!

In 2010, Wendy’s changed their “to go” salads to more gourmet salad offerings. Also in 2010, Wendy’s changed their fries to “natural cut fries.” Apparently, this means they are cut in a “more natural way” with the skins still included for “healthier” offerings and different textures. I personally was unsure of this move, but I’m one of the very few people I know that has to scrape the excess salt off of all my fries, so I did appreciate the reduced salt that came with this change. I heard much mourning and wailing from others at this change, however. You can’t win them all. At least they kept trying for healthier, right?

Ah. Well. This answers it. In 2011, Wendy’s spun off of the Arby’s merge and went back to flying solo–and also moved its headquarters back to the original Dublin, OH. In 2011, Wendy’s also introduced the “Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy™ ” Cheeseburgers. (Personally, this was another move I may have crinkled my nose at. I couldn’t tell a difference in a positive way…?)

In 2013, Wendy’s launched the Pretzel bun. I remember the day I pulled up to Wendy’s and saw this on their sign. I cringed. Pulled back. Horrified. Ugh. That looked….terrible! It was all… brown. And thick. And the thought was very unappealing to me. Apparently, I was in the minority. Most of my family loved this innovation. And now, in 2015, we can buy pretzel buns in many different grocery stores–much to my family’s delight. As for me, I’m still anti-pretzel bun and will probably remain here firmly with arms folded stubbornly.

Other FUN Facts

All around, this was just a fun post. I’m so glad I accidentally “overheard” this tidbit of info as I frantically searched for the pause button on whatever clip was playing in my ear. 🙂



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