August 9, 2013
Wendy’s Co. broke ground yesterday on a new flagship restaurant on Rt. 161 near its Dublin headquarters that will pay tribute to its past and the life of founder Dave Thomas. But that history will be presented in one of the state-of-the-art, modern-feel restaurants that the chain is rolling out.
“We want this to be a destination, a real landmark for Dublin,” Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini said.
The restaurant will incorporate the company’s “image-activation” design concept, which includes digital menu boards, a fireplace, lounge chairs, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi bars. The Dublin restaurant will be larger than others of this design to accommodate a community room featuring Thomas memorabilia and displays of the company’s history.
“We don’t want to go into the details just yet” about what will be on display, Bertini said. “We’ll leave that to the opening.”
However, he did divulge that the torch Thomas carried as part of the relay leading up to the start of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta will be part of the exhibit, as will an early Wendy’s pick-up window sign.
Construction is expected to start next week, with the restaurant slated to open in December. The Wendy’s just west of this site will be closed and demolished.
About 700 Wendy’s employees work at the nearby company headquarters on Dave Thomas Drive.
“The Wendy’s Co. has made significant investments in maintaining its international headquarters in Dublin,” Dublin Mayor Tim Lecklider said. “And this new and unique restaurant will be another welcoming feature for the Bridge Street District.
He called the new location “a one-of-a-kind” restaurant.
The goal of Dublin’s proposed Bridge Street District is to create a walkable, mixed-use area in the center of Dublin, surrounding the historic district. It could include up to 8,000 residential units that would add 12,000 residents over the next 10 to 20 years.
The new Wendy’s in Dublin will be about 4,300 square feet, which is about a third larger than the typical image-activation Wendy’s design. It also will include an outdoor patio with seating for 20.
Bertini did not disclose the cost to build the restaurant.
Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick earlier reported that sales at Wendy’s restaurants featuring the new design were up by about 25 percent compared with other stores in the chain.
This year, the company expects to build 25 new restaurants with the new design and renovate 100 more. In addition, Wendy’s franchises will build 40 new restaurants with the image-activation design, and about 150 franchises have applied to the company to renovate to the new standards.The image-activation updates started in late 2011.
“The burger business is a tough category,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a restaurant-research firm based in Chicago.
He added that since only a small percentage of Wendy’s feature the new design, it’s too soon to tell if it will help the company’s bottom line.
“When they open a new one, they might get a big pop,” Paul said. “But the key is a year later, what will it be. Will they have gained market share?”Sales at the image-activation stores open more than a year have gone up about 18 to 20 percent, Bertini said.