Wendy's Founder Dave Thomas Worked for Colonel Sanders

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As far as fast food founders go, Wendy’s Dave Thomas and KFC’s Colonel Harland Sanders are among the most famous. But when Thomas was just starting out, they were co-workers. More specifically, Thomas worked under the Colonel at a handful of Kentucky Fried Chicken locations in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

In 1962, Thomas was offered the opportunity to move to Columbus, Ohio, to work in a few struggling KFC franchise locations. Thomas was told that if he turned them around, he’d be rewarded with a 45 percent ownership in the profits of the location.

To save the sinking locations, Thomas made a number of wholesale changes, including paring the then-enormous menu way down and installing a sign that featured a gigantic revolving red and white chicken bucket.

Under Thomas’ direction, the stores made a quick turnaround and Thomas celebrated his new ownership in the company by promptly selling his stake back to Sanders for $1.5 million—which he used to open up his first Wendy’s location in downtown Columbus in 1969. He used that same business acumen to make Wendy's as famous for its burgers and Frosty as KFC is for its Original Recipe Fried Chicken.

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July 1, 2012 - 11:27am
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