The nation’s third-largest hamburger chain, known for its square hamburger, chocolate Frosty dessert, unique commercials, Dave Thomas, and his red-headed, pig-tailed, freckle-faced daughter is now owned by Atlanta-based Triarc Companies, known to most as Arby’s. Triarc will pay about $2.34 billion in an all-stock deal for Wendy’s, based in suburban Dublin. Wendy’s now operates about 6,600 restaurants in the United States and abroad while Triarc operates 3,700 Arby’s restaurants.
The deal comes as Wendy’s struggles with declining profits and weak sales compared with rivals McDonalds Corp. and Burger King Holdings Inc. In the past year, Wendy’s has spun off its Tim Hortons coffee-and-doughnut chain and sold its money-losing Baja Fresh Mexican Grill. Triarc also owns shares of Tiffany & Co. and The Cheesecake Factory Inc., according to regulatory filings.
Wendy’s has failed to connect with consumers in several advertising campaigns since founder Dave Thomas’ death in 2002. Thomas, always wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and red tie, became a household face when he began pitching his burgers and fries in television commercials in 1989.
Triarc also said expansions for both brands are planned for the U.S. and overseas and that the company will look at a dual-concept unit in high-cost real estate markets. Triarc said it will also change its name to include the Wendy’s name.
Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas opened his first restaurant in 1969. Thomas, who died in 2002, became a pitchman for his burgers and fries in 1989. The deal caps two chaotic years for Wendy’s in which it has sold or spun off operations, slashed its corporate staff and had its wholesome image tarnished by a woman who falsely claimed she found part of a finger in her chili.