Our 'Dining Out After 6pm' series, takes us this week to Wendy's in the Liguanea Plaza where the franchise's 'Quality Is Our Recipe' motto, established by its late founder Dave Thomas, rings true with every bite of their varied, appetising menu.
It's Friday evening, payday weekend, and Wendy's in the Liguanea Plaza is teeming with an almost full dining room. Chairs are filled with dine-in customers. We eyeball a cross-section of customers: tweens munching on chicken nuggets and sea salt-sprinkled French fries, dating twosomes enjoying hamburgers dubbed Baconators and creamy vanilla dairy desserts while making eyes at each other as they talk; married couples relishing scoopfuls of chili and baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese. Collectively, one telltale sign unifies them -- momentary food bliss.
We reckon it comes with the territory; since the food franchise, which was started in the United States in 1969 by the late founder Dave Thomas, operates under the Thomas-initiated motto, "quality is our recipe". Just last week, buying pattern surveys revealed that Wendy's had surpassed Burger King to claim the title of second best-selling hamburger chain in the US (with McDonald's claiming its seemingly unbeatable first place).
With the aroma of burgers on the grill wafting through the air, and a snaking line of customers headed to the cashier, we're midway through a photo session being shot in the store's dining room of the best-selling items on the Wendy's menu when Michael Mahfood pops into the store. Mahfood, a customer service intern of Wisynco Foods, which oversees the local four-branch Wendy's franchise, tells Thursday Food that the franchise makes a worthwhile quick-service jaunt because it offers options aplenty. "The variety is more than the average competitor," he explains. "When you buy a hamburger here, instead of having fries alone, you can have a side salad, chili or baked potato," he adds.
And that's not all, Mahfood notes that Wendy's baked potatoes are available with a variety of toppings: broccoli and cheese, bacon and cheese, with two cheeses, or with chili.
He says the menu's variety is also evident in its salads, dairy desserts (with varied toppings), chicken sandwiches and beef burgers, all of which have multiple choices.
Customer traffic at the Liguanea eatery on this Friday night is consistent and appropriately so, as we learn that the branch moves the most products, ahead of the other three outlets in Central Plaza, Half-Way-Tree; Fairview Plaza in St James and the most recently opened at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
"The last two Fridays in the month are usually our busiest periods," Mahfood discloses. "You can't judge the peak periods because sometimes at lunchtime, the lines go through the door and other times, it's a medium crowd."
Be it a super-sized or mid-sized customer base on a given day, the Wendy's faithfuls we run into are not shy about declaring why they fancy the brand named after its founder's daughter.
"The food is different and always tastes fresh," attorney-at-law Sophia Williams tells us. "I love the baked potatoes and chili and the apple pecan grilled chicken salad is absolutely wonderful," she raves.
The eatery's homely feel and its signature emphasis on "quality" meals create win-win foodie moments, whether eating in or to-go. Just ask final-year medical student Belinda Chiba who stopped in for a late-night bite. "I'm a regular... I enjoy here because the food is fresh and good," she tells us on her way out, clutching her order of chili, quarter-pound burger and a Coke. (Photos: Naphtali Junior)