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  • Wienerschnitzel’s Drive Toward the Future: Innovative strategy moves brand forward

    Imagine sitting in traffic, and a sports car—a McLaren, to be exact— pulls up beside you. You look over and notice that the hood displays a prominent Wienerschnitzel logo over a wiener-dog camouflage background. That’s a type of advertising franchisees don’t get with just any brand, but it’s exactly the kind of energy that CEO Cindy Galardi Culpepper and her team have brought to this re-emerging legacy brand with innovative new marketing strategies and outreach programs.

    Though the company is building on more than 50 years of brand history, Wienerschnitzel is planning for the future with exciting campaigns to reach new audiences. “Look at our name—Wienerschnitzel,” says Ted Milburn, director of U.S. franchise development for Wienerschnitzel. “How do you not have fun with that? Our message can be a little edgy, and we push the envelope to identify with a broader range of customers."

    Wienerschnitzel’s new marketing and visionary team, started by J.R. Galardi, the son of the brand’s founder, is creating innovative ways to reach new customers. From sponsoring the likes of motocross racers, surfers, and lifestyle events to leading philanthropic efforts, such as the Hotdogs for the Homeless tour, Wienerschnitzel is finding exciting new ways to drive brand loyalty. 

    “Our visionary team has gone out and done amazing activation events to target younger crowds and specific markets. Our TV ads and social media also drive that message of a fun lifestyle brand that younger demographics can identify with,” Milburn says. “While we’re very much an iconic brand in the West and Southwest, we have a successful story to share again and one that’s unique for today’s world and today’s image moving forward.”

    With six consecutive years of same store sales increases, it is obvious that this strategy is working, and Wienerschnitzel plans to continue its expansion. The company is looking for new franchisees who already have experience with other brands and want to grow and diversify their restaurant portfolios. Though burger, Tex-Mex, pizza, and chicken chains often dominate saturated markets, a well-rounded hot dog concept offers a unique opportunity to reach new customers.

    “Most of the people I speak with who have restaurant qualifications and interest find us to be a unique quick-serve opportunity where there is no one else in town in this category,” Milburn says. “We are definitely unique with a tasty variety of chili dogs, chili cheese fries, corn dogs, and soft serve as prominent menu items.”

    As an American quick-service classic, hot dogs have wide appeal, and Wienerschnitzel offers a rich menu with a secret chili recipe that’s been under lock and key since 1965. “The food we do not compromise on,” Milburn says. “It has to taste really, really good. It is an indulgent line-up, and you’ll never see a kale salad on our menu.”

    The brand also offers low start-up costs that are attractive to franchisees. The Heritage building’s playful design pays tribute to the chain's original A-frame model, but it offers a small, low-cost footprint that can be built on as little as an 18,000-square-foot pad. For turnkey construction and equipment for the traditional Heritage model, franchisees can build restaurants for an estimated range of $800,000 to $1,000,000. Endcaps with drive thru and select conversion locations further expand real estate opportunities. 

    With a brand reinvention, Wienerschnitzel’s marketing and visionary teams are changing the face of the company to make a sound investment for the future. “We’re not just doing something with a new logo or a with new hot dog,” Milburn says, “it’s a whole attitude, approach, and new direction in driving customers and loyalty. It’s working well, and that’s good, but we’re not slowing down this train.”

    For more information about franchising opportunities with Wienerschnitzel, visit