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Why is Wendy's so much better?

  • f

or why can't other chains be more like Wendy's?
I order my 1/4lb or dble 1/4lb with no mustard or pickles. made fresh their hamburgers are very juicy, they are even moist and softer in the middle (as in like med-well, not burnt discs) .

is it just me? i can't stand anything else from a hamburger chain, but i crave these things, only downside is the salt levels common to all fast food.

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  1. For a chain, Wendy's is very good. I usually order the double w/o onions. Way better than McDonald's and Burger King. Five Guys, which just moved into New Jersey within the last year, is even better. Both of these places use fresh meat rather than frozen. Five Guys fries are fried twice in peanut oil.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotdoglover

      Hope the 5G stays good in Jersey. Here in DC where they originated, it's hit-or-miss.

      1. re: monkeyrotica

        Five Guys is great in Philadelphia; which surprised me, as I wasn't thrilled by the first one I had been to in VA.

    2. Love a Wendy's double. So juicy, and their rolls are great. I wish everybody served Micky D's fries, but oh well.

      1. I have to comment on this. I have noticed a steady decline in the quality at Wendy's over the years. The first things to take a hit were the fries. I remember them being much bigger, but I slowly accepted the change. Now, the burgers are suffering. The buns have gotten much worse tasting more "doughy" and having nearly no flavor. The patties are still pretty good with decent toppings, and the nuggets and Frosties are still above par. Compared with the competition, they still come out on top, but they I will no longer go out of my way for a Big Bacon Classic.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Sacto_Damkier

          Last time I visited you could no longer get the Big Back Classic, they replaced it with that Baconator monstrosity. This may have (hopefully) changed by now... I haven't had the desire to return after finding about the change.

          1. re: summeranne

            At the Wendy's I frequent you can still get the Big Bacon Classic, you just have to ask for it.

          2. re: Sacto_Damkier

            I agree completely that they've gone down hill. It seems (though it may just be in my head) that it started when Dave Thomas died. Since then the tenor of the ads have changed, the service I got in various restaurants has been far poorer and the food itself hasn't been as good.

            I like them only for their spicy chicken and chicken nuggets and the last time I got a spicy chicken, the lettuce and tomato were so comically bad that I'm not sure it's worth the time. On the upside, they do put two slices of cheese on it when you ask.

            I would still choose them if I were in a pinch and if In N Out Burger wasn't nearby and if I didn't feel like just getting the good fries and a coke from McDonalds. Overall, I honestly forget Wendy's is out there as an option....and two years ago, my wife and I ate way too many chicken nuggets.

            1. re: ccbweb

              I used to enjoy their chili, but the last time I got the "dollar" version it cost $1.20, came in a cup that was only 2/3 full, and had next to no meat.

              1. re: Emm

                I had the occasion to have Wendy's chili twice last week but at different locations. I've had to break my "nothing from a place that has a window" rule a lot lately. Anyway, at one place the chili was watery with one stingy particle of beef in it. I thought it was more like soup (vegetarian at that) than chili. At the other place (thankfully near my office) it was thick and meaty. Both were dollar versions. Maybe it depends on the batch or the location?

                1. re: SweetPea

                  Another good example of the decline. Wendy's Chili also USED to be great, but it too has taken a downturn over the years. I also remember the salad bar and better potatoes. One would think that a restaurant would have to improve quality over the years to compete, but I guess the dollar menu craze has taken everything down.

                  1. re: SweetPea

                    Yeah, the quality does vary. I swore off buying the chili from one nearby location a couple years ago. However, the latest substandard chili came from a place that up till now has been pretty good. I'm afraid it's just a downhill trend :(

                2. re: ccbweb

                  You are right about the downward spiral since Dave Thomas died. I even actually liked his commercials. He seemed like a decent, accessible guy. It was like along the lines of watching my own dad in a commercial, no clowns or kings, just someone comfortable and genuine. (And admit it, is the Burger "King" not the most disturbing thing you've ever seen in a commercial?)

                3. re: Sacto_Damkier

                  Wendy's has gone WAY downhill since Dave Thomas died. Not only has the quality of the burgers suffered, but they've gotten much smaller while the price has climbed. $3.49 for a basic single hamburger? F-ck that! Dave would be ashamed and embarrassed at what has become of his company. I rarely go there anymore.

                4. Even though the end product can only be as giod as the ingredients, I've discovered that strong management can make or break a specific location.. When it first opened, the local Wendy's was great for what it was: We used to enjoy their limited salad bar. (Discontinued a long time ago). Then things went downhill very rapidly. The food was cold, poorly put together and a trip through the Drive thru always resulted in missing items., no condiments, no straws, no plastic ware, wrong salad dressing, etc. As a stock holder,I contacted the company and received a request for detailed information, along with a personal letter of apology and a promise to investigate.. ABout 4-6 weeks later, I received another letter, informing me that the Co had resumed control of the franchised location and they encouraged me to give it another try, via a number of free and bogo, coupons . I was aware that some of the locations were Co owned and some were independently owned and operared franchises but I didn't know it was a factor in how they were managed. The difference was dramatic. I hadn't even realized how many things were bad until I saw how much better the place looked and ran. Now it's fine. The dtaff is coordinated, the Mgrs seem involved and concerned and business seems to have picked up. As for the quality of the food... Someone once told me to try eating fast food cold and I'd never, ever eat it again, so with that caveat I stick to their salads and the occasional vanilla frostee which is already cold :-}

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Tay

                    Management indeed makes a difference. Our local McD used to be superb because of the manager - every time we went, he would be hustling alongside his employees, making sure they were happy and the customers were happy. Everyone was friendly, energetic and when a car had to pull over because of a delay in the takeout window order, the employees would literally run the order to them. Then the manager left and as you can imagine, everything went downhill. We don't even go there anymore. When the service was good I wrote a complimentary letter to McD and the franchise owner contacted me and gave me some free food coupons. When the service went bad I again wrote a letter but this time never heard a thing. It's a shame that corporations don't monitor their franchises more closely and that franchise owners don't monitor their managers more closely. It makes a ton of difference. I keep saying this but it seems to me that McD has the highest proportion of poor managers and uncaring franchise owners among all of the major chains. Sad.

                    1. re: monkuboy

                      From my experience, I think that for the major national chains the proportions seem about the same. I've been in fabulously well run McDonalds and horribly run ones (in the same town, actually); but, the same is true of Wendy's, Taco Bell and KFC. In fact, the same is true of Quiznos and Subway as well. There are good manager who know how to run a restaurant and work hard and there are bad managers who neither know how to run a restaurant nor work hard. Of course, there are also people all over the spectrum. I don't think it's specific to one national chain.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        I used to work at a Keg restaurant in Toronto (a mid-level steak and seafood chain). When I started, we had a manager who wasn't too proud to grab a broom and dustpan when a guest dumped a load of salad at the salad bar, even though he was wearing a 3-piece suit. The restaurant rocked when he ran it. Too bad he left to start up his own place. His replacement liked to stand around and look imperious, and when similar dropped plates occurred he would stare at the nearest waiter and say "Get a bus boy". The place went downhill quite quickly.

                  2. IMHO, the only thing worth eating at Wendy's is a Frosty. Weird sauces on everything... ick.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Oh Robin

                      Now there is the vanilla oreo cookie thing, I have to cringe before hitting "post" and go get one.

                    2. I used to prefer Wendy's over McD's or BK, but lately I've found they don't measure up. The burgers are always put together sloppily, the fries are limp and never hot, and the service is appalling. There is a location near my house where they only seem to have 2 or 3 people working at a time, which means the kid taking my order also has to packge up my food and wait on the people going through the drive-thru. As you can imagine this means long lines and long waits for your food. I thought this was a fluke (maybe they were understaffed at the moment) but then I was traveling in MD and ran into the exact same situation. More than a year later and it's still the same at the Wendy's by my house. Not sure what's going on there but I've pretty much stopped going. Shame, really, since I loved their nuggets and baked potatoes.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: SarahEats

                        Wendy's used to be my "go to" of the big three (w/ McD's and BK), but the fries are now cold and limp, the value-menu burgers have shrunk by at least a 1/3 and are put together sloppily, and many of their $1 menu items have become $1.19, $1.29 and $1.39, with a corresponding decrease in quality. I tried to call to complain, but was unable to successfully communicate with the person who answered the phone.
                        All of the Wichita BK locations are being knocked down and rebuilt, and the food coming out of there is FINALLY hot and edible. McDonalds...breakfast is mostly edible, and the fries are okay.

                      2. I dont see much of a difference between Wendy's, McD's, and Burger King. They are all pretty bad, and none of them stands out as being better than the others. In a time pinch i will go to whichever is convenient, but dread a visit to any. Bad food, terrible service is a common theme to all 3.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: swsidejim

                          I prefer Wendy's because you actually get to custom your combo. I usually get a salad or the chili to go with my burger. Everything just tastes so much better than McD.

                          1. re: caitlink

                            I do tend to feel less ill after eating at Wendys than I do when I eat at McD's, or BK. Luckily I only go to any of the above mentioned places once or twice a year.

                        2. Wendys used to make some excellent Purdue fried chicken, but they stopped carrying it a few years back. Service is also sloppy and slow, but that seems to be the case with most fastfood places, with the notable exception of Chik-fil-a. They seem to be the only fastfood place with a consistently good product served by people who seem to care about what they're doing.

                          1. Wendy's is my go-to for cheap fast food. Chili, nuggets and small side salad for about 3 bucks my usual fare, spicy chicken fillet when I want to splurge. Well, splurging no more. The chicken sandwich I received last week was nearly flat, much smaller than the bun and mouth feel was more like processed chicken. Ah well. The customer service at our location is consistently friendly. A few weeks ago they forgot an order of fries [we always check the bag before leaving the lot]. Once informed the manager immediately apologized and personally bagged up the fries.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: dishchrista

                              I prefer the Wendy's SW Salad over the McDonald's SW Salad hands down.

                              1. re: dishchrista

                                Wendy's is about the only burger chain I can frequent, since I'm heavily into low carb eating to help keep my diabetes under control. A large chili and a side salad does the trick for me. Maybe it's just Toronto, but I've never gone into a Wendy's that didn't have at least four or five employees working. I've also never had any of the problems mentioned in other posts about the chili - it's ground beef, sure, so I'm not expecting the big chunks of beef that I put in my homemade stuff, but it's always been flavourful and satisfying (of course, I dump in a couple of packets of hot sauce). There's virtually nothing on the menus at McD/BK that I can eat.

                                But I was in Los Angeles last month, and tried a Carl's Jr. That was a damn fine burger (I cracked the diet to try it), although why they call it a "6 dollar burger" when the combo was only $3.99 is beyond me. If they were in Toronto, I'd like to try them.

                                1. re: KevinB

                                  I think the original schtick was that you were getting a restaurant-quality burger in a fast food joint. I've had it before and really enjoyed it.

                                  1. re: spellweaver16

                                    The thing I don't understand is why the Carl's Jr burger is so much better (in my opinion) than the Hardee's equivalent.

                                    1. re: aynrandgirl

                                      I've been pretty disappointed in Hardee's lately. The one I usually go to was completely awful last time.

                              2. I agree! Wendy's IS WAY better. I love their spicy chicken sandwiches, and I think their chicken nuggets are just so much better.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chew on That

                                  thank you! i'm not a big fan of their chicken, but to each his own. to me at least, the food tastes less artificial. and i prefer their fries! obviously has to be high turnover place.

                                2. Yeah, the baked potato is so creamy and buttery by itself. I honestly don't bake my potatoes as well as them. Thumbs up for using Russets!

                                  Chili is a great buy at $1. Tastes better than Josie's (which is sour and salty) IMO.

                                  1. I love Wendys so much! What bothers me is their bacon cheddar melt or whatever they call that burger is not available year round. It is such a great burger. It has canned mushrooms and processed cheese on it, sounds gross but just about everyone I know loves it! Why can't they make it year round!
                                    I also don't really like Wendys fries. I usually get a ceasar salad and I like how you can mix and match their sides. Their loaded baked potatoes always sounds good but I find they need a lot of doctoring. I also resent the fact that they use bacon bits instead of that nice crispy strip bacon they have in the back for the potatoes. Stingy!
                                    The best part of the Wendys burgers are that they are juicy and delicious and SQUARE. That means that I have delicious and tiny triangle pieces of beef that hang out of my burger that my chihuahua now covets.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Cookiepants

                                      I confess a fondness -- okay, an obsession -- with Wendy's Chili Sauce. You know, that clear-ish fluid that springs forth from the golden squeeze packet like nectar from the Fast Food Gods(tm). Man, that stuff is addictive!!! ESSENTIAL on their chili, but also great on their burgers.

                                      And, for the record, I've noticed a steep decline in their food since the "finger" incident of a couple years ago. And here I thought Wendy's management would capitalize on the incident by proclaiming their chili to be "finger food."

                                      1. re: CucumberBoy

                                        I love that stuff too but out here in Arizona we can't get it anymore. I ask for it and they shrug their shoulders like I'm speaking Russian. In fact, I haven't seen it here in over 15 years. Do they have it out by the ketchup or do you have to ask for it?

                                    2. The Wendy's around here in Ohio just started serving breakfast and it's terrible. Worst fast food breakfast ever!!!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Ranger05

                                        Apparently there is no one left at Wendy's who remembers what a fiasco their breakfasts were back in the 80s. They tried to serve pancakes, scrambled eggs, et al and it was universally horrid and discontinued after not too long a time. Perhaps they've got some new technology, but I think Ranger's assessment is probably spot-on.

                                        1. re: Ranger05

                                          Agree 100%! Everything on campus was closed yesterday so I went to Wendy's in the union because I was desperate for some breakfast. I got the big country burrito or whatever they call it and it was awful. Pre-made, hard potatoes, etc.

                                          Never again!

                                        2. i used to work at a Wendy's while in university...oh the stories I could tell. For years I couldn't eat there, probably partly because the owner and managers were like working for Hitler. Yelling and put downs in the kitchen were common, and watch out if you didn't get your burger made in ten seconds. I worked there when the salad bar still existed and it was funny to watch people who would march up there with their burger wrappers and help themselves to salad.

                                          Wendy's for a while had a greek pita thingie that i liked, of course they discontinued it. I really liked their Spring Mix Salad, which of course they discontinued. Wendy's has no veggie burger unlike most other chains, not even a fish sandwich...i no longer go there at all because at this point the only thing i can eat there are the fries, a side salad , or baked potato.

                                          McD's veggie burger is/was repulsive and slathered in disgusting sauce. At one point they had a nice grilled veggie sub type sandwich, and discontinued it. I still like thier shakes though. Burger King at least makes a pretty decent veggie burger as does Harvey's and i think Arby's. A&W is one of my personal favorites due to their diet root beer, their onion rings and more recently their veggie burger. Plus i remember going as a kid when they'd bring the meal out to your car...our family had an entire set of mugs that way ;)

                                          1. I used to eat at Wendy's in Ohio all the time when I was in school. So good. The Wendy's out in California are all terrible. Yes, all of them. The chili is watery and they didn't even have hot sauce for it or know what I was talking about at one location.

                                            1. Wendy's big advantage is the flexibility of the side orders on the value menu and the best chicken sandwich (spicy chicken) of any of the fast food burger chains...as for the chili, it is inconsistent b/c its supposedly made at each location using over cooked or unused burgers as the meat and im sure there are some batches that are more watery than others. For my part, I only find its a lousy chili if its a dirty Wendy's - not enough love goes into the chili in those places, and thats not how Dave Thomas wanted it.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: maruvius

                                                The location I worked at in college, for sure used the overcooked or unused burgers as the meat for the chili, in fact there was a large bucket at the end of the grill where they'd be scraped right off into it (and needless to say, no one went running off to the fridge with the bucket as soon as one burger hit it). The breaded chicken that was around over ten years ago was made a couple at a time and kept in a heating drawer for long periods of time until someone would order it.

                                              2. I am new here on chowhound but I found this post interesting because I thought it was only me who felt the quality in Wendy's food was declining. Their Big Classic burger use to be awesome when it first came out but then they switch the bun on us and it taste like cardboard. The fries has shrunk but honestly isn't that bad. Their chicken sandwich use to taste fresh like home cooked but now has that frozen dinner taste. I guess I have better luck with their chili because I still think it's a hit with me, and stick with the chocolate frosty. I love Vanilla but not their Vanilla Frosty so I was a bit disappointed. The window drive thru is terrible at my place because they can never get my order right (and any of my coworker's orders). I went back there one time because they forgot to add the cheese on my burger and I order it and was charge for it, and the mangers initial response was "what do you want me to do about it?" in a rude tone and mind you that I am a patience person and was a regular eat in customer. They never saw me again in 11 years and when I passed by that location and rebuilt it. I thought the company was declining well before the death of Dave Thomas, but worsen ever since he died. I agree with a lot of these posts here. Five Guys is AWESOME!!! I really just can't afford to spend over $10 a meal when I don't have time to cook, but those burgers are a treat. A really good fast food place I found was In & Out but they are only on the West Coast. Otherwise, i am still looking for a burger joint that can make a burger right and affordable.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: BD Eddie

                                                  BD Eddie,

                                                  Great post! I, too, love 5 Guys. They just opened a few locations here in N.J. within the last year. I haven't been out to the West Coast, but I hear that In & Out is very good. I am really curious; which did you think was better, Five Guys or In & Out?

                                                  1. re: BD Eddie

                                                    Dave Thomas left Wendy's employ long before his death. He was merely their pitchman for his last few years.

                                                    1. Jfood usually likes Wendy's. jfood had a couple of hours to kill atthe airport last night waiting for little jfood. so what the heck lets have a double while waiting with some fries.

                                                      Well jfood gotta tell you this was almost the single worst burger he has ever eaten. And the fries were even worse. if he were a betting man he would have bet $100 that the owner of this wendy's did not buy from corporate. Wendy's has a distinctive texture, this one did not. And they placed mayo (not Hellman's) on the roll as well. The fries were piping hot but no salt. How can you serve fast food fries w/o salt?

                                                      Well at least the diet coke was cold and throwing it out allowed him to enjoy his sesame chicken and chow fun when he got home.

                                                      Does anyone know whether buying from a supplier other than corporate is allowed. From now on when jfood wants a wendys fix he'll stay in norwalk ct.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        >>Well at least the diet coke was cold and throwing it out allowed him to enjoy his sesame chicken and chow fun when he got home.<<

                                                        Who?

                                                        My local Wendy's also refuses to salt their fries. Insulting. Rather, insalting, if you're so inclined.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          You didn't say which airport, but most larger ones are under control of whatever Host/Marriott is calling itself now. While I worked at SFO I got to talk to the Noah's bagel regional manager about their stand there and why it was so resolutlely bad. It turns out it was Noah's pretty much in name only and they had very little say over how it was run or who worked there, the staff bid positions in the restos by union seniority and Noah's was the least desired because they tried to keep kosher. The food service company running the place had a dozen other places at the airport and didn't really care about repeat business. The manager's frustration was almost palpable since short of pulling the contract when it was up there was nothing she could do to remedy the situation.

                                                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                            Laguardia (NYC) American Airlines Terminal.

                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                            Jfood, you obviously ate at a non-corporate Wendy's. If you had Coke instead of Pepsi Im sure of it (that's how you can usually tell). The franchises can go outside the corporate realm and buy from other suppliers. Unsalted french fries sounds like someone was just lazy, but apparently this is not the case, and they always come that way. Another reason to drive by.....

                                                            1. re: Cheflambo

                                                              Does Wendy's really serve Pepsi? That would really surprise me because a Pepsi related company owns Burger King (and Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell).

                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                Burger King is a publicly held restaurant that is unrelated to any other entity.

                                                                The other three restaurants are part of the YUM brands which was spun off prom Pepsico about 8-10 years ago.

                                                                Pepsico owns no restaurants.

                                                                1. re: jlawrence01

                                                                  I am apparently wrong about Burger King. I'll defer to you on the "legal" ownership of Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. However, Pepsi's spin off of Tricon/Yum seems to involve a secret long-term beverage contract, so the more appropriate description would be something like "joined at the hip" :-)

                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                    Marriott has a long-term contract with Pepsico for their facilities. Does that imply ownership?

                                                                    As both entities are publicly held, all ownership documents and filing are readily available online.

                                                          3. Wendy's so much better? Better than what? Ick :-(

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: embee

                                                              Better than McDonalds or Burger King, which it definitely is.

                                                              1. re: Hensley

                                                                I guess thats kind of like getting an award for being the tallest mudget... oops I mean little person, or is it dwarf in todays p.c. world.. ;-)

                                                                1. re: Hensley

                                                                  Wendy's is the worst fast food, only beat by Taco the runs Bell.

                                                              2. JUST IN.... the red-haired-wig-dudes commercials have NOT aided in boosting wendy's bottom line. now their ad campaign will be: "wendy's: WAY much better than fast food."

                                                                WOW, now THAT IS A WINNER ad campaign!!!

                                                                ;-❥

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  that guy is as freaky as the BK king. Nightmares for me!

                                                                  1. re: justagthing

                                                                    that would be a freak show: BK King battles Wendy-Boy.

                                                                2. Wendy's is the only fast food I can bear to eat at all. My kids were so put out with me when they were little as I wouldn't take them to McD. I took them there for a treat three whole times when they were children. That sh*t is Nasty!
                                                                  Today they won't eat there either.
                                                                  Wendy's has the best burgers - there's lots more meat and they are mysteriously jucier than other places. I eat mine plain so it's very evident. For some reason, they don't have very good fries though. They are limp and have a heavy used-oil flavor. I think there must be some standardized schedule for changing the oil that is WAAAAAY longer than it needs to be as I notice this at Wendy's all over (when driving cross country).
                                                                  The dollar menu rocks - those smaller burgers are about the size of a McDonald standard burger. For a buck : )

                                                                  And what a huge compliment to Dave Thomas: the loyalty he generated from his customers
                                                                  -total strangers- to himself personally. He must have been a wonderful person.