How a Series of Setbacks Led to the Wendy's Empire

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Little did Dave Thomas know that the restaurant which he opened in 1969 would become one of the largest fast-food chains in America - Wendy's (WEN) - Get Report.

It all started in Columbus, Ohio. 257 East Broad Street to be exact!

The second Wendy's opened in 1970 and it included a very important invention: the drive-in window! Chick-fil-a, McDonald's (MCD) - Get Report, Burger King, Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report  and Dunkin' Donuts (DNKN) - Get Report can all thank Dave Thomas for changing the way we order food!

Wendy's earnings report is expected Wednesday.

Wendy's History

There are reportedly more than 6400 Wendy's restaurant chains worldwide.  But, it wasn't always such a monster burger empire.  Dave Thomas created Wendy's following a series of setbacks.  Thomas lost his adoptive mother when he was five, he had to get a job when he was 12. He lost his job at Regis, then he lost his job at the Walgreens soda fountain. But, he never gave up!  At the age of 15, Thomas landed a job at the Hobby House, and what he learned there set his career and success in motion.

Here are a few stand-out moments in the company's history.

  • 1969 the first Wendy's opens
  • 1970 the first pick-up window 
  • 1776 Wendy's goest public
  • 1980 2,000 restaurants
  • 1984 "Where's the beef?"

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