Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Quality Is Our Recipe": Wendy's and Dave Thomas

Growing up with several fast-food/restaurant choices, my family and I often turned to the most frequented or popular, including McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Culver's, and (I'll defend this one) Hardee's. Until recent months (and with the possible exception of Culver's), I've never really taken into account the amount of "quality" put into a popular chain until I read a great deal about Wendy's.

Founded by Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969, Thomas had a passion for food and for people. It was his dream to own "the greatest restaurant in the world," and to share that dream with everyone. That sounds cliche enough, and yet his goal was to "make hamburgers people love by doing things the right way" (my emphasis).

Wendy's founder Dave Thomas, pictured with his 1994 book,
"Well Done: The Common Guy's Guide to Everyday Success"
One of my favorite things about going to this restaurant (which I occasionally visit with coworkers) is looking around inside at the framed pictures that show their many fresh ingredients, all of which showcase their slogan, "Quality is our recipe." For instance, their square patties (remember the ads from the 1970's that asked, "Where's the beef?") consist of "100% North American beef, raised on ranches close to our restaurants so it's always fresh, never frozen." Their salads, meanwhile, are "crisp and fresh," and their fries are "natural-cut." Some of their suppliers include Coca-Cola, Talley's fries, and Woodland eggs (from New Zealand), and other food/menu items include chili and Frosty ice cream.

Thomas also revolutionized salad bars in restaurants, as well as "quick service" pick-up windows with separate grills. And from 1989 up until his death in 2002, Thomas appeared as the official spokesperson in more than 800 Wendy's commercials for what became one of the most successful ad campaigns in the food service industry.

I gave a speech a few months back about Thomas's mission statement regarding customers, service, and standards, and one of the notes I had made was how he was influenced by his grandmother as a child while she would cook in the kitchen. He would help and learn from her, including her philosophy on "never to cut corners on quality." Said Thomas, "When I started Wendy's in 1969, 'Quality is Our Recipe' was our motto. Our focus on quality hasn't changed, and it never will. Wendy's offers customers the highest quality food, and freshest ingredients, made-to-order sandwiches, and fast, courteous service." He continues, "When you like a restaurant's food and are treated well, you'll go back again. We have to earn our customers' loyalty every day, and exceed their expectations on every visit. That's our mission and our focus and, in my opinion, that's what generates loyal customers."

Wendy's today
And it's this emphasis on quality that makes Wendy's food, atmosphere, and customer service worthwhile, as well as a recipe that keeps this writer coming back as often as he can. After all, they don't call it a "value" menu for nothing.

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