Industry News | August 10, 2011

Wendy’s Tests Four New Stores

More than a few customers could be seen mouthing the word, “Wow,” as they walked through the electronic sliding door and gazed into the new prototype Wendy’s restaurant that opened Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.

The redesign, dubbed “ultra modern,” features clean lines, bright lighting, rich colors and some of the top design concepts in the restaurant and retail industries. It is also among four building styles Wendy’s will test in a multiyear strategy to reinvigorate the brand.

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The restaurant and a similar unit nearby that opened two weeks ago “are very different from what our customers are used to,” says David Karam, president of Wendy’s, based in nearby Dublin, Ohio.

“We will learn a lot in the coming months from their comments.”

The chain’s high-quality food has always been a draw for Wendy’s patrons, who are the main reason the company embarked on the redesign, Karam says.

“Frankly, customers told us some of our restaurants are getting dated,” he says. “They also said they’d like to see our fresh food preparation, and they want more comfort in our dining areas.”

The result: The interior features a better view of the kitchen behind the counter and five distinct seating types, including a lounge with a fireplace, booths, two-top tables, high-top tables and a high-top counter with electric outlets to plug in devices.

“A lot of quick-service restaurants are taking a page from the Starbucks book and making the interior a lot more comfortable and homey,” says David Talty, a professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University. “Letting people hang out a little longer pays off in terms of customer frequency.”

Customers also tend to spend more money when they eat in the restaurant, says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant analyst with market research company NPD Group.

“You are more likely to have the side item and beverage you may not have if you drive through or carry out,” she says. “Customers are looking for value, and value is more than price. It’s atmosphere, ambiance, creativity, innovation, and food quality, too.”

The prototypes in Columbus feature some fast-casual touches beyond the open kitchen, including multiple digital food display signs, separate ordering and pick-up stations, and a refrigerated display case for bottled beverages and baked goods.

There’s also a digital, animated menuboard and key phrases in permanent signs dotted throughout the restaurants.

One of those slogans, “Quality is Our Recipe,” is spelled out on the front of the building’s exterior, which has a clean, Midwestern modern look, complete with large windows and natural materials, that harkens to Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced designs.

“People are tired of big boxes that look ordinary,” says Tre Musco, chief executive officer of Tesser Inc., the San Francisco-based brand strategy and design firm working with Wendy’s to develop the prototypes.

“Customers are very clear in believing that if you put more attention into your building design, you put more attention in your food.”

The restaurants have a small patio, and even the drive-through lane has changes, such as a digital menuboard and a canopy over the ordering area.

Another innovation at these units is roasting coffee beans fresh, part of a test of beverage and bakery products under a new label, Redhead Roasters. The tag comes from the company’s red-haired namesake, Wendy Thomas, daughter of late founder Dave Thomas.

The new units also feature Coca-Cola Freestyle machines that dispense 129 beverage varieties, along with thousands of permutations.

Wendy’s, with 6,600 restaurants worldwide, will test the three other prototype designs in three other U.S. cities and one in Canada.

The company has not announced details about the designs or named the cities where the stores will be built.

Reporting & Photos by Barney Wolf


I think this will give another grap to new customers as well as keeping the regulars to keep coming in.

New look is fine for Columbus (Ohio State U) area, but might not make it in less hip neighborhoods. Very interesting concept for "new coffee brand" and bakery?? Will watch the progress.

The test location shown in the pics is in an older section of the northern suburbs. While it's only a few miles from OSU, it is by no means a"hip" area. Think of the commercial strip in your own town that has seen better days. That's Bethel Rd in Columbus. If the new modern face of the Wendy's band works here, it has potential to work in many other locations.

Closing the gap between QSR and fast casual combined with a beverage program that sets the stage for a breeakfast roll out are smart plays for the most quality centric of the brurger QSR's. If Wendy's stays this course and reinforces these moves with targeted expansion in the right DMA's, we'll be hearing lots more positive news!

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I'll bet McDonald's is blushing! The pictures from this article look just like the McDonald's down the street from me (except the colors). Too bad Wendy's is following instead of leading.

They are playing catch up with McD. They have a long ways to go and even what the public see's today at the remodeled McD is old news as McD have the next plan in the works. Keep trying Wendy's, you will need more than what you have done here to sustain market share.

Updating is part of survival in this business. Weather it is too modern?? Or will it work in all markets?? Who knows for sure but it is necessary. I believe Wendy's has great food. Their sandwiches seem fresher and I always feel I am eating healthier when eating their burgers. I love the new fries also. Their salads are always fresh and why don't I or my family go their more?? It just is not at the top of our radar when making that decision. I really believe it is time to let go of the pigtailed little girl as part of the logo. I know the story and it is a great one. But the customer base you are trying to appeal to and draw in does not and frankly they dont care. No disrespect intended. McDonalds has moved on from Ronald...they have evolved to a giant yellow M on their signs. They are putting in lounge areas and featuring coffee drinks instead of Hamburgers. Evolving seems as important as updating! I wish them luck... and I remember when they had salad bars, they were the best and I used to eat at Wendy's quite often then.

Wendy's will always have highest quality food because of Dave Thomas' personal standards andphilosophy taught through the decades; the "pig-tailed" Wendy is part of the Wendy's legacy fromDave from the time he named the restaurants after his daughter with the red pig-tails. It's like havinga wonderful "family tree" and all the history along with it. Give the Corporation a chance to try thenew style buildings and concepts. Sometimes it pays to be innovative and sometimes you can justlearn from other success stories!

3 weeks ago i went to wendy's for a burger. I ordered a hot and juicy cheese burger with everything. To my supprise it came out plain with cheese and a burger on a roll. This was the worst cheese burger i have ever tasted. It was greasy, had no taste. I took 2 bite and put it in the trash when i got home. I love Burger King and the whopper is just the sandwich for me. I order it the way i want it and thats the way they serve it to me. Wendy's had the worst food in any of the fast food.

I am so exited. Please redo the 3 here in Cleveland,TN.I love Wendy's.Thank You for your time.Jon

A chain-link fence just went up around the Wendy's in our mid-sized town (halfway between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah). Their marquee says "closed for remodeling." I'm anxious to see what transpires. They've got a lot of competition along the same street -- Arby's and McDonald's both across the street. I'm pleased to see that they're finally going to have self-serve sodas -- so we can refill our own drinks without having to ask at the counter for a refill. It will be interesting to see how this project progresses. It already has a great location -- right off the freeway interchange that's the quickest route into town.

The old Wendy's location in Clayton, NC was demolished and the local paper posted the following story shortly after., a small town who has been mostly ignored by the other restaurant chains has caught the eye of Wendy's. It'll be interesting to see what they bring to the table.

The old Wendy's location in Clayton, NC was demolished and the local paper posted the following story shortly after., a small town who has been mostly ignored by the other restaurant chains has caught the eye of Wendy's. It'll be interesting to see what they bring to the table.

After working in Rio de Janeiro, I moved to Atlanta. The bank I worked at became the largest Wendy's franchisee (through foreclosure : ( , and I was Account Manager for Results Through Motivation, the 2nd largest franchisee).It's a coincidence that many years later I moved to Dublin, Ohio (in 1998). I really love this company, some of which is linked to Dave Thomas but also much to the quality of their food.For example, my very demanding mother-in-law from Brazil considers Wendy's by far the best place for a burger in the USA. I'm not surprised. I just value quality. Thank you.

We want a Wendy's in East Bremerton, Washington again. We miss Wendy's so much here. Pleeeeeeeeese!!!

We're getting TWO here in Raleigh NC!

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