Why Wendy’s is on a Roll


Things haven’t been great at Wendy’s in recent years, but now it looks like the little pigtailed redhead has got plenty to smile about.

The chain hired a new CEO, Emil Brolick, last September. He called the chain’s recent financial troubles “self-inflicted wounds” at the company’s earnings call in late January, according to the Associated Press.

Wendy’s sold off Arby’s last summer, which was the start of its transition. Since Brolick’s arrival from Yum! Brands, Wendy’s has moved firmly into the growing fast-casual movement by “sprucing up the chain’s locations and stressing the importance of good service,” MSN reports. “We’ve made great progress in getting rid of those F restaurants and getting more A’s and B’s, but we’re still in that territory,” Brolick stated in January.

Its improvement has also come from the introduction of new items on its menu, such as the W burger, which is “two patties of 100% pure beef, two slices of American cheese, thick-sliced tomato, and (the company’s) savory signature sauce — all on a buttered, toasted bun” for $2.99.

The restaurant also updated its trademark burger by introducing a revamped Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy cheeseburger with a thicker patty and more cheese than its previous offering, and a back-to-its-roots marketing campaign that evoked the brand’s legacy by featuring the original Wendy — Wendy Thomas, the daughter of founder Dave Thomas — in advertising and local appearances.[more]

MSN points out that Wendy’s has seen its revenue grow 5.6% to $615 million in the final three months of 2011, which is more than the $613 million analysts thought the company would earn. “Same-store sales in North America rose 4.4% — the chain’s best performance in eight years,” the site reports.

Plus, the company — which operates 1,400 restaurants itself and has 5,171 franchised outlets — was set to dethrone Burger King at year’s end to become the nation’s second most-popular burger joint behind McDonald’s.

Also helping matters: a store redesign that started last year, with 10 remodeled restaurants testing four different restaurant designs. The burger chain plans to build 20 and remodel 50 company-operated restaurants this year in the U.S. and Canada — just as McDonald’s is revamping its stores.

“We are working to enhance the entire customer experience, including the restaurant design, inside environment, elevated food preparation standards and higher customer-service standards,” Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick said in a release, which added:

The company conducted nationwide research and studied every aspect of the customers’ restaurant experience. “Frankly, customers told us some of our restaurants are getting dated,” David Karam, president of Wendy’s North America, stated. “They also said they’d like to see our fresh food preparation and they want more comfort in our dining areas.”

Based on this feedback, Wendy’s completely overhauled the interior and exterior. The exterior features a contemporary design with large windows and natural materials. The interior showcases open, bright dining areas, with multiple seating options. The restaurant has a new customer ordering process, digital menuboards, and a few test products only offered in these restaurants. The Pick-Up-Window has digital menuboards and an awning at the ordering speaker. Digital menuboards, being tested across the country, feature enticing product photography, video and graphics that make ordering simple.

“These new remodels are part of a multi-year strategy to reinvigorate our brand and the way our customers interact with us,” Karam said. “This brand strategy involves completely re-imaging our entire menu, new advertising and marketing, new restaurant apparel and product packaging. We are making great progress in all of these areas, and we think our customers will be surprised and excited about their new Wendy’s.”

Check out the updated restaurant designs below and let us know what you think of the new Wendy’s.