Franchising | September 2011 | By Mary Avant
340 Years of History
The Golden One
For Wienerschnitzel, there’s no better way to commemorate a golden anniversary than to focus on its customer, and that means giving away cash, cars, and Chili Dogs.
The West Coast hot dog chain kicked off the year by rolling back prices on the Chili Dog, offering the customer favorite for only 99 cents and helping to spur customer counts and sales.
Next came “Cash-in On a Corn Dog,” giving guests a chance to win $50,000 in cash. The biggest promotion took place in July (the month Wienerschnitzel was founded in 1961), when the brand gave away 50 Fiat 500s to 50 lucky winners.
Wienerschnitzel, which now has more than 350 units, is looking forward to moving toward smaller venues and expanding its footprint across the West. Sorry East Coasters—president Dennis Tase says the company won’t be reaching the opposite shore any time soon.
“We’ve stopped and reflected on where we’ve been and where we want to go and realized that there’s certain limitations for our company,” Tase says.
“Being as small as we are, we have limitations,” he says, “but we also have opportunities.”
And Wienerschnitzel plans to take advantage of those opportunities and stick around to reach the centennial mark.
“We have too much passion from our franchisees; they carry the lifeblood of our brand,” Tase says. “They’ll carry the brand into the next 50 years.”
Fresh-Faced and Fan-Focused
New is the word on everyone’s lips at Togo’s, a West Coast sandwich shop that’s celebrating its 40th year of business.
Whether it’s additional products—like the line of Toasted Wraps including the Viva Veggie with hummus and the Cha Cha Chicken with corn salsa—or the new-fangled website, featuring a nutritional calculator and individual franchisee pages, Togo’s is introducing a handful of changes.
“Togo’s continues to evolve, but we stay true to our heritage,” says Renae Scott, vice president of branding and marketing. That heritage even inspired a systemwide relaunch program, with a design model focusing on bright colors like avocado green and vibrant orange, as well as a brand-new logo and exterior.
The 40th anniversary theme this year focuses on “40 years of love and sandwiches,” Scott says, following one man’s love for Togo’s throughout his life. Guests will see him on his first date, on road trips, and in his new home, all with Togo’s sandwiches by his side.
In August, Togo’s launched a Facebook game, where fans could work together to build a 40-mile sandwich, reaping rewards along the way.
The focus on its fans is one thing that isn’t new at Togo’s, and the company has no plans to change it any time soon.
“I see Togo’s continuing to be part of people’s lives in new and unexpected ways,” Scott says. “Togo’s will still be the same great neighborhood sandwich shop that we’ve always been 30 years from now. We may just need to add electric-car charging stations to our new design.”
The Burger Maker
If you’ve ever wondered how each McDonald’s can churn out the same standard of service, whether it’s in an airport in Dallas or a stand-alone in Sweden, here’s the answer: Hamburger University (hu).
Over the years, HU has graduated more than 275,000 McDonald’s franchisees, employees, and suppliers from all over the world. And it doesn’t stop there: More than two in five senior leaders at the company are graduates of HU.
“Hamburger University is an investment in our future where we challenge highly motivated, dedicated people and provide them with training and experience,” says Fred Turner, founder of HU and McDonald’s honorary chairman.
The university, which hit the 50-year mark in April, has six international campuses in Tokyo, London, Sydney, Munich, São Paolo, and Shanghai. It began as a 15-student operation in 1961 when Turner initiated the program in the basement of his McDonald’s in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
Offering three curriculums—restaurant management, mid-management leadership, and executive development—HU remains the only quick-serve education program to receive college credits from the American Council of Education.
“Lifelong learning is a goal for some,” Turner says, “but it’s a way of life at McDonald’s.”
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