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. And 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 handful of struggling KFC franchise locations. Thomas was told that if he turned them around, he’d be rewarded with a 45% 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 & 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.

In this interview Thomas talks about what it was like working for the iconic string-tie-wearing man in white:


July 1, 2012 - 11:27am
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