Saturday, February 24, 2007

Goodbye, Wendy's #1




I read the news today, oh, boy...


OK, so it's not that dramatic, but I did read in the paper (The Columbus Detached) this morning that the original Wendy's restaurant, store #1, located at at 257 E. Broad Street in Downtown Columbus, would be closing this Friday, March 2, 2007.
According to the newspaper, Dave Thomas opened this restaurant on November 15, 1969 as Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers.

I've captured the story and posted it here (the original story probably won't be available online after a week or so...).
According to the story, this store hasn't been profitable since COSI moved from its downtown location directly across the street from Wendy's in 1999 and the required repair and renovation costs to the existing building are too high.

I've been to this Wendy's a number of times and it's a very interesting place, filled with memorabilia from Wendy's history, including the original drive-through sign, instructing people how to order - the drive through was a new thing back then...

I remember the first time I went there - it was in early mid-late July of 1986. I had just graduated from college a couple of weeks before and had traveled over from Dayton to apply for a job at some Columbus hospitals. After applying at St Anthony's (where I would eventually be hired), I stopped at this Wendy's for lunch. it was a pretty big splurge for me that day, since I was running a bit low on cash - after all, I needed a job! I think I had a chili (their hamburgers never quite agreed with me) and a Coke. I might have even sat at this very table...
It's one of the old fashioned kind they used to have that was supposed to look like ol'timey newspaper ads. Kitschy, yes, but that was Wendy! I have many other memories of Wendy's, since I used to work at the one near the now defunct/demolished Salem Mall in Dayton during college (Salem Mall death photos here...). Actually, I worked at McDonald's AND Wendy's at the same time for about 6 months. I would work at Wendy's during lunch , then after that shift I would change into my McDonald's uniform in the Wendy's bathroom, order and eat (usually a chili) in the Wendy's "dining room" -in my McDonald's uniform - then walk two storefronts over to work the night shift at McD's. And yes, I stunk awful by the time I got home...

So with all of these memories swimming in my head this morning, I decided to take Boogie downtown for lunch. We had several errands to run today, so I figured what the heck. He'd never been there, and I thought it would be fun for him to see the place before it was gone.
When we arrived and finally found a place to park a block and a half away, we discovered that that seemed to be the same thought half the people of Columbus had, too - the place was jammed packed and we waited among a genial and generally nostalgic crowd for about 40 minutes to to get our meal. I could hear many people telling stories of their first visits to Wendy's, their visits to this original store and past working experience at other Wendy's stores. It was a long wait, but kind of fun. Every one was looking at the memorabilia on the walls taking pictures and talking to each other.

(the original Wendy)

I guess a fun time was had by all. And the food wasn't bad either. Boog had a Kid's meal with chicken nuggets (way tastier then McD's) & I had the chicken sandwich which was quickly commandeered by my dining companion:


After our meal we still had 7 minutes left on our parking meter, better than a few of our fellow diners who received $20 meter violation tickets. It was odd, they didn't seem to care. Their last meal at the original Wendy's seemed more important.

I have other memories of Wendy's - Founder R. David Thomas was a hefty contributor to Children's Hospital and a huge advocate for adoption. His passing in 2002 was a very sad day for all involved in both endeavors.

So, we had our meal, had our experience, took our photos and went on our merry way, off to do the grocery shopping, then home to try to stay warm and play Lego with mommy... one more day to remember.

Enjoy,
Lorence

6 comments:

LunaPierCook said...

Lorence, thanks for the comment! Here's one back atcha ... I bumped your comment on my blog so it's part of it's own entry now. Thanks for the great memories, sir.

Anonymous said...

$20 meter violation. What a crime that the city takes an event like that and rapes the populace for more money.

Lorence said...

I'd have to disagree - It wasn't really an "event", and law enforcement can't just suspend the meter laws whenever there's a surge in visitors to a business.
Wendy's closing announced and lots of people went there over the following week. There's plenty of on street meter parking for blocks and blocks, as well as the bus which goes right past the old store, with plenty of "park & ride" lots. and $20 ain't bad for a ticket if you have to get one. We elected to drive, but could have easily caught the bus. Actually, bus service in Columbus sucks unless you're headed right into downtown. I work near downtown and live right off a main bus line, but to get to work, I have to wait for a transfer, adding 10 minutes more to an already slow ride. If gas gets higher, though, it will either be an electric/hybrid/smart (smartusa.com) car or the bus...

Anonymous said...

Lorence,
Thanks for the thoughts and digitals. I remember the first time I ate at a Wendy's and how pleased I was with the freshness and taste. I have dined in hundreds of times since. We have one of the original Wendy's tables that has adorned our recreation rooms in the many places we have lived. I just haven't had the heart to put it in a garage sale as yet - and may never.

Malika said...

Lorence, I am doing an estate sale for a woman that has an originals wendy's table. Whats do you think I should do in regards to getting it sold for her? Do you think Wendy's would buy it?

Lorence, Columbus, Ohio said...

Malika, I had a couple of inquiries sometime back about people looking for an old table - I can't recall who or where. I think they were on the LunaPier blog (first comment above, but I don't even see that the link he created there is active any more. I would suggest Ebay, though. I'll bet it would fly out of the door! Good luck!