On December 17, 2013, the Dublin, Ohio-based fast-food chain opened its flagship restaurant at 4555 West Dublin Granville Road, across the street from the company’s headquarters.
A statue of Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, greets you at the side entrance on the patio. It was sculpted by Matthew Gray Palmer, a sculptor from Columbus who now lives in Washington. Holding a Frosty and a to-go bag, the sculpted Thomas stands 6’2″ and weighs 300 pounds. There are two hidden symbols on the statue: one recalls his wife of 47 years, Lorraine; the other is for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which the adopted entrepreneur founded in 1992 to help foster children find a permanent family.
The restaurant’s 4,000-square-feet interior includes three dining areas with seating for more than 100 people. Booths, tables and a bar area are partitioned with frosted glass panels embellished with stenciled grass.
In another seating area, you can brush up on facts about Wendy’s, which Thomas named after his freckled, red-haired eight-year-old daughter Melinda Lou, who was nicknamed Wendy.
But the star attraction is the restaurant’s community room, with lounge seating, a fireplace and a flat-screen television. Best of all, it’s filled with memorabilia related to the company’s history since its founding in 1969.
On one wall, a timeline juxtaposes Wendy’s history with world and community events, while displays in each of the floor-to-ceiling windows present enticing collections of artifacts. Here, you’ll see the original test griddle used to cook Wendy’s signature quarter-pound square hamburger from fresh, 100 percent ground beef,…
… and examples of Wendy’s famous advertising campaigns, including the unforgettable “Where’s the Beef?” and one of Thomas’s red ties that he wore with a short-sleeved white shirt in countless television commercials.
… while you admire an original Tiffany-style glass lamp, a hand-painted drive-through menu and those nifty hanging plastic beads that were used to divide seating areas. All are from the original restaurant at the corner of Fifth and Broad Streets in downtown Columbus.As I tucked into my baked potato, longing for the return of the pretzel bacon cheeseburger and the Mandarin chicken salad, I wondered whether one of the largest quick-service chains in the world had established a corporate archive. Saving correspondence, minutes, reports, photographs, publications and other documents that an organization has produced over the years provides an important record of its history.
If you’re interested in how the documentary records of American businesses are preserved, or if you’re a business owner who wants to establish a corporate archive, check out The Records of American Business, edited by James M. O’Toole; Corporate Archives and History: Making the Past Work, edited by Arnita A. Jones and Philip L. Cantelon; or some of the resources available from the Society of American Archivists’ Business Archives Section.
Have you been to the new Wendy’s and found the two hidden symbols on the sculpture of Dave Thomas? Let me know!