Not many fast-food restaurant founders have been as visible as Wendy's Dave Thomas was. In a bold marketing move, Thomas became the face of the franchise on TV commercials in 1989, and continued doing so until he passed away in 2002. The first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant was opened by Thomas and co-founder John Schuessler in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. It was important for Dave from the beginning that Wendy's be a cut above its competitors in terms of food quality. If you look closely at the famous logo, you'll see the words "Quality is our Recipe" above the red-haired pigtails the company's mascot "Wendy" wears.
You won't find a heat lamp with a rack of burgers sitting beneath it at a Wendy's. Each "single" hamburger is made-to-order. The classic burger is a 4-ounce, square patty served on a bun with your choice of toppings -- lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and whatever condiment you fancy. Wendy's ranks third on the burger chain list behind Burger King and McDonald's, with more than 6,500 locations worldwide. In 2006, Wendy's had total revenues of almost $2.5 billion and employed 57,000 people [source: Wendy's].
The chain is also famous for its chocolate version of the milkshake, the Frosty. It was one of the original five menu items and remains a top seller. Dave Thomas wanted to make a milkshake so thick you had to eat it with a spoon and he was pretty successful -- Wendy's sells about 300 million each year [source: Hentges].