It became obvious when the New England franchise manager described tossed salad as "a well-researched, well-supported concept with a lot of data behind it," and added, "We're very pleased to have salad."
The business-suited crowd that showed up last night for the opening of Boston's first and the nation's largest Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers were definitely more interested in fast profits than fast food.
The businessmen lounged around the 350-seat, two-story formica and brass complex in their blue pinstripes, Downstairs, a string quartet churned out Bach, drowned out by the talk of loans and investment capital and the profit potential of breakfast that went on above.
Where They Meet--To Eat
And while the bankers talked interest rates, the Wendy's elite met with reporters and financiers, discussing the future of the chain and of hamburgers in general.
R. David Thomas, who fathered Wendy and the chain named after her, held court, defending his chain and its "hot n' juicy" concept that allowed the opening of 500 new restaurants last year.
"This is our 1776th restaurant," Thomas said. (He admitted a few minutes later that actually it was number 1802, but being Boston and all, 1776 had seemed appropriate.)
"We're not worried about crowds," he said, when one knowledgeable reporter from Fast Food World asked him about bottlenecks at the cash register in a restaurant that expects to deal with hundreds of customers an hour. "If we get swamped, we'll just open up another unit down the street. That's called camelizing," he added.
Wendy's serves only four "concepts" (chili, hamburgers, french fries and frostys), and is about to add a fifth (salad), coast-to-coast-to-Japan, where Wenco Inc. recently picked up the franchise rights.
The small menu makes for a tidy kitchen. One locker holds ground beef, another buns. And one chef, smiling, toothless Lester, is in charge of chili. "They only allow us to make it one way," Lester said as he stirred his simmering pots.
Upstairs, in a quickly-arranged press conference. Thomas was answering questions about the future of his franchise.
"I'll answer one more question before we go eat dinner," Thomas said.
"What do you think of breakfast?" the man from Fast Food World demanded. "There are certain stores where I don't think breakfast would be appropriate, where they wouldn't serve to increase usage." Thomas answered. "But my own instinct is, and I can't give you any data on it, is that someday we will have breakfast.