The private equity firm that owns a controlling interest in Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc. recently said it is entertaining offers to sell the firm. Franchisees fear a takeover would cause confusion and ultimately impact sales, which are slow enough as it is. Last month, Wendy’s/Arby’s reported a first-quarter net loss of $3.4 million as revenue declined 3.1 percent, to $837.4 million. Arby’s, in particular, has been hammered by the lingering recession. It saw sales plummet 11.5 percent in the first quarter of this year. Franchisees are not the only ones spooked by a potential sale. Pam Farber, daughter of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, says her father would be devastated if he were alive today. “There are no words to describe [this],” she told Nation’s Restaurant News. “He loved, loved this business. One thing about my dad, it wasn’t about the money. It was about his passion and love for the business. He cared so much for his franchisees. This whole franchisee system is part of the Thomas family.” Sadly, not anymore.
Hot sandwich goes cold. Dave Thomas is surely rolling in his grave over the state of affairs at Wendy’s/Arby’s. But Arby’s may not be ready to give up the ghost quite yet. The fast-food franchise is looking to jump start sales by selling branded products in supermarket chains. Anyone care for a microwaveable roast beef sandwich? Didn’t think so. The company just signed a deal with an Atlanta licensing firm that would enable it to sell a variety of items in supermarkets, but did not say what those products would be. Still, it doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out that frozen French Dips are probably in the cards.
Moving up in the world. It’s not a big deal when Subway opens a new restaurant. After all, there are more than 33,000 of these sandwich shops across the globe, and new ones open almost every day. But it’s not every day that a Subway opens atop the Ground Zero construction site in New York City, where a new 105-story skyscraper called the Freedom Tower is now being built. The new store, which currently caters exclusively to the constructions workers who are building the Tower, is one of four movable “pods” on hydraulic legs sitting on either side of two tower cranes, reports The New York Times. The Subway pod will rise alongside the skyscraper. According to the Times, it’s no different from any other Subway, with a kitchen, a walk-in freezer, a service counter and refrigerators for drinks. It also has a heated and air-conditioned seating area with tables and chairs. The new Subway is a welcome addition for construction workers, who usually don’t have a lot of options when they’re working 100 stories in the sky.
(Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad of The New York Times)