Night falls on Wendy's Original Restaurant.

Where's the Beef? Not in Columbus

After years of losing money feeding a shrinking throng in Columbus Ohio's faded downtown, the World's First Wendy's will close on March 2, 2007. The hybrid fast food restaurant/free museum had been operating at a loss, and was too costly to renovate, according to the Wendy's corporation.

Wendy's began its fast food franchise journey in 1969, when 35 year old Dave Thomas opened Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant on East Broad Street. The location became the pilgrimage destination for a nation of Wendy's fans (here's our story from a 2004 visit). Apparently, diehards like us were too few in number, and perhaps didn't buy enough food.

Historical Wendy's exhibits.

Other fast food franchises let their birthplaces succumb to the bulldozer, but Wendy's had always been an important exception.

Dave Thomas has been buried since 2002, and the original restaurant has been deemed less important than, say, the birthplace of John Wayne, the spawning ground of Hewlett-Packard (a garage), or even the birthplace of McD's (well, franchise Store #1 anyway). There's no plan to move the Wendy's building (as was accomplished with the World's First Pizza Hut -- albeit a smaller building -- in Wichita, Kansas).

The Wendy's artifacts and displays will be shipped to and housed in the company's headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. We're hoping for a free public museum there -- where future generations can appreciate the Danny Thomas Frosty Cup and Spoon exhibit.

[Thanks for tips from Nathan L. Forrider and R. Pelfrey]

Was downtown at the corner of 5th and Broad.
Closed in March 2007.

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