Image Courtesy of National Restaurant News

To me, Wendy’s has always stuck to the “tried and true” philosophy in remaining highly consistent with their original concept. Wendy’s was founded by Dave Thomas and Robert Barney in 1969, and was named after Dave’s 8-year old daughter, Melinda, who was nicknamed “Wendy.” Like any restaurant chain, Wendy’s has made small changes here and there over the years to continue to connect with their target market, but has never before made a HUGE change in product offerings or services.

However, any company that has been in business for over 40 years should see some major changes as the ages of their clients and markets shift. Just like the other fast food chain big boys, Wendy’s has been hit hard with the recent national health initiative backlash, and the previously dogged defender of tradition is making serious adjustments to the nutritional value of it’s products, completely revamping the look and feel of their food with healthier options like “sea salt” fries and “asiago grilled” chicken.  In order to remain competitive and appealing to a younger audience that is more aware of and concerned with their health, Wendy’s (along with many of their counterparts) has chosen to provide more high-end, healthier choices that add value and diversity to their menu.

In an official statement to National Restaurant News about the recent changes and what is next for Wendy’s, Chief Marketing Officer Craig S. Bahner said, “Look around. Chipotle, Panera, Five Guys—this is the new standard.  They’re doing super jobs, but they have the advantage of coming in and being able to build new spaces and new concepts from scratch.  We can’t stay stagnant in that environment.  We have to continue to evolve our brand and grow up our brand.

Our consumers have a different picture of what they expect.  We have to leap frog now.  It’s not just about catching up, because everyone else is moving forward.  You grow brands to be viable not for a quarter, but for years.”

Well said. Read more, and see the plan for Evolution: