Friday, April 04, 2008

Where's Wendy?

Dave Thomas, the late founder of the Wendy's hamburger chain had a special connection to Fort Wayne, Indiana, my home town. Dave worked at the Hobby House Ranch restaurant which used to sit at the corner of North Anthony and Crescent in Fort Wayne.

The Hobby House was one of the original restaurants serving Kentucky Fried Chicken. (This was years before Kentucky Fried Chicken opened their own restaurants). One of the first Wendy's franchise's in our town, opened up across the street from where Dave Thomas got his start in the food business, and today, they are at the exact same site as the old Hobby House.

It's hard to believe that Wendy's has been around this town of ours for more than 30 years!

From Wikipedia, "At the age of 15, Thomas got a job as a busboy at a Hobby House restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When his family decided to move once again, he refused, dropping out of high school at age 15 to work full time. He moved in with the family that owned the restaurant and focused on ways to promote it. It was at the Hobby House that he met a waitress named Lorraine who would become his wife in 1956."

So it with a bit of sadness that I write about the struggles that Wendy's are going through. As I read the following article from Mediapost, and compare what Wendy's is doing compared to what McDonald's is doing, I see a copy-cat mentality. Wendy's has lost their uniqueness. (Did you know, Wendy's was the first to have a drive through window?) McDonald's can afford to add items to enhance their menu. Wendy's needs to focus on what made them the number 3 burger chain.

Wendy's Blames Snow, Easter For Poor Q1 Performance
by Nina M. Lentini, Friday, Apr 4, 2008 5:00 AM ET
WITH AN APPARENT STRAIGHT FACE, Wendy's on Thursday reported that its first-quarter revenue down was down because of snow and the Easter holiday.

The Dublin, Ohio-based chain, which has been looking for a buyer, said sales fell for the second quarter in a row. Revenue ended March 30 dropped 1.6% at company stores and 0.1% at franchise outlets open at least 15 months.

"Results were impacted by a calendar shift in 2008 with the Easter holiday," Wendy's said in a press release. "First-quarter sales also were impacted by the severe winter weather in March in the Midwest and North." Asked one analyst rhetorically: "It doesn't snow at McDonald's or Burger King?"

The shift of Easter to the first quarter this year from the second quarter in 2007 reduced company-owned store sales by 0.3 percentage point, Wendy's said.

In the year-earlier quarter, sales at company-owned stores rose 3.8% and gained 3.7% at franchise shops.

In January, Wendy's had said its review of a possible sale was in the final stages. That month, the company began promoting its Stack Attack double cheeseburgers, focusing on its value at 99 cents. During the Lenten season, Wendy's came out with a new premium fish sandwich. Recently, it introduced a spicy extension of its Baconator.

The company launched in February its new advertising campaign--Waaaay Better"--as an authentic voice for the brand.

During April and May, Wendy's is offering a Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad. And on Thursday, it announced the introduction of its $1.49 Chicken Go Wraps in Grilled, Spicy and Homestyle varieties.

Nina M. Lentini edits Marketing Daily. Email her at

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