[23], In 1980, Thomas received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[24]. Rex David Thomas (July 2, 1932 – January 8, 2002) was an American businessman, philanthropist, and fast-food tycoon. According to Bio TV, Dave claims that people nicknamed his daughter "Wenda. In addition to Melinda they had three more daughters, Pam, Lori, and Molly, and a son, Kenny. He vowed never to lose another job. Wendy's … The beginning of a journey – on November 15, 1969, Dave Thomas opened his very first Wendy’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio at 257 East Broad Street. This article is about the American fast food owner. When his father prepared to move again, Thomas decided to stay in Fort Wayne, dropping out of high school to work full-time at the restaurant. Having food production and service experience, Thomas requested the Cook's and Baker's School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Our comprehensive list of Wendy's owners contains emails, phone numbers, key contact's full name and addresses for current and former Wendy's franchise owners in the United States.Our restaurant owner contact lists are updated annually with contact details for new Wendy's owners. The company was known as Deisel-Wemmer Co. from 1884 to 1929, Deisel-Wemmer-Gilbert Corporation from 1929 to 1946, DWG Cigar Corporation from 1946 to 1966, DWG Corporation from 1966 to 1993, Triarc Companies, Inc. from 1993 to 2008, and Wendy's/Arby's Group, … [12] This experience would prove invaluable to Thomas when he began Wendy's about a year later. Years of complex corporate mergers, acquisitions, and sales involving Wendy’s and a number of other fast-food companies were resolved with the 2011 establishment of the corporate parent firm The Wendy’s Company and with the return of Wendy’s corporate headquarters to Dublin, Ohio, just a few miles away from the location of the original Wendy’s restaurant (which had closed in 2007). Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers in downtown Columbus in November, 1969. 1970's. [15] Thomas named the restaurant after his eight-year-old daughter Melinda Lou, whose nickname was "Wendy", stemming from the child's inability to say her own name at a young age. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. [17], In 1982, Thomas resigned from his day-to-day operations at Wendy's. Growth continued after Thomas ceased to oversee day-to-day operations in 1982, but a series of subsequent minor setbacks—including a failed attempt at breakfast service—led Thomas to become the face of the company in a successful series of commercials that began airing in 1989. Thomas was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. He Ended Up Founding The Wendy's Chain And Cooking Up A Fast-food Fortune", "Why Wendy's founder regretted naming restaurant after his daughter", "Wendy's founder Dave Thomas dead at 100Jan. 'I'm going to call it Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers'. [14], Thomas opened his first Wendy's in Columbus, Ohio, November 15, 1969. [22], In 1979, Thomas received the Horatio Alger Award for his success with his restaurant chain Wendy's, which had reached annual sales of $1 billion with franchises then. By 1968 Thomas had increased sales in the four fried chicken restaurants so much that he sold his share in them back to Sanders for more than $1.5 million. Dave Thomas founded the first Wendy’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969. [8], He subsequently became an education advocate and founded the Dave Thomas Education Center in Coconut Creek, Florida, which offers GED classes to young adults.[9][10]. After serving as a regional director for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Thomas became part of the investor group which founded Arthur Treacher's. [7], At 12, Thomas had his first job at Regas Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, then lost it in a dispute with his boss; decades later, Regas Restaurant installed a large autographed poster-photo of Thomas just inside their entrance until the business closed down December 31, 2010. Morse is best known for being the namesakeand mascotof the brand. A company survey during the 1990s, a decade during which Thomas starred in every Wendy's commercial that aired, found that 90% of Americans knew who Thomas was. Omissions? [21] He died on January 8, 2002 in his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the age of 69. James Bodenstedt, the owner of a series of Wendy's franchises, has donated more than $440,000 to President Donald Trump's reelection campaign since 2018. In 1989, he took on a significant role as the TV spokesperson in a series of commercials for the brand. The Wendy's Company is an American holding company for the major fast food chain, Wendy's.Its headquarters are in Dublin, Ohio. Wendy's quickly caught on, and within less than a decade, had grown into a 1,000-store franchise. [4], Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, his biological father's name was Sam and his biological mother's name was Molly,[5] Thomas was adopted in between six weeks and six months later by Rex and Auleva Thomas,[6][5] and as an adult became a well-known advocate for adoption, founding the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Under Thomas’s leadership, Wendy’s expanded rapidly, with the chain’s 1,000th store opening within a decade of the company’s founding. Moving with his father, by 15 he was working in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the Hobby House Restaurant owned by the Clauss family. [1][2] He is also known for appearing in more than 800 commercial advertisements for the chain from 1989 to 2002,[3] more than any other company founder in television history. Thomas was an honorary Kentucky colonel, as was former boss Colonel Sanders.[26]. Dave Thomas founded the first Wendy’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969. His Wendy's concept broke new ground for the eat-and-run crowd -- though a little more … The company was known as Deisel-Wemmer Co. from 1884 to 1929, Deisel-Wemmer-Gilbert Corporation from 1929 to 1946, DWG Cigar Corporation from 1946 to 1966, DWG Corporation from 1966 to 1993, Triarc Companies, Inc. from 1993 to 2008, and Wendy's/Arby's Group, … He was sent to West Germany as a mess sergeant and was responsible for the daily meals of 2,000 soldiers, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. In the mid-1950s, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders came to Fort Wayne to find restaurateurs with established businesses in order to try to sell KFC franchises to them. Thomas was buried in Union Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. This original restaurant remained operational until March 2, 2007, when it was closed due to lagging sales. Thomas was raised a Master Mason in Sol. One of fast food’s most famous logos, Wendy’s cartoon image of a smiling redheaded girl, was based on the appearance of Thomas’s daughter, who also inspired the company’s name. In 1982, Thomas and several other people came together to form a school known as The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. [13] His involvement with the new restaurant lasted less than a year before he went on to found Wendy's. He affiliated with the Miami, Florida, Scottish Rite Bodies on December 18, 1991; was invested with the Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander Court of Honour on November 13, 1993, in Jacksonville, Florida; and was coroneted an Inspector General Honorary, S.J., on November 25, 1995, in Atlanta, Georgia, and unanimously elected to the Scottish Rite's highest honor, the Grand Cross, by The Supreme Council, 33°, in Executive Session on October 3, 1997, in Washington, D.C. The Largest Pizza Hut and Wendy’s Franchisee Is Expected to Declare Bankruptcy The owner of about 1,600 restaurants has been struggling to grow sales for years. After his adoptive mother's death when he was 5, his father moved around the country seeking work. At the time of his death, there were more than 6,000 Wendy's restaurants operating in North America. At first, Thomas, who was the head cook at a restaurant, and the Clauss family declined Sanders's offer, but Sanders persisted, and the Clauss family franchised their restaurant with KFC and later also owned many other KFC franchises in the Midwest. [20], Thomas had been afflicted with a carcinoid neuroendocrine tumor for ten years, before it metastasized to his liver. [19] Consumer brand awareness of Wendy's eventually regained levels it had not achieved since octogenarian Clara Peller's wildly popular "Where's the beef?" Save 50 % off a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive Content namesakeand the... 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