Dear Wendy’s Corporate Overlords,
On the evening of April 28, 2023, I picked up my girlfriend from work and we stopped at Wendy’s for dinner. I ordered a Dave’s Double combo, specifying that I wanted it “plain, only cheese,” and Lauren got a Cobb salad, a small order of fries, and a water.
I paid the cashier $23.56 — that’s American money, not Turkish lira — and collected our food.
Upon opening the bags, we discovered that we had not been provided with any straws for our drinks, nor had we been provided with any ketchup. When I unwrapped my burger, I found it did not have cheese on it, meaning it was just two patties on a bun.
Of course, the dining room was closed, so I couldn’t just walk in and ask for a piece of cheese, and I didn’t want to go through the long drive-thru again, so I just ate my dry, cheeseless burger in silence, snapping my head back like a duck as necessary to choke it down.
Now Wendy’s, here’s the thing: I’m not upset with the staff at this particular Wendy’s, which is why I have chosen not to tell you which Wendy’s this was. I don’t want to risk anyone losing their job because they forgot to put cheese on my burger. That would be monstrously cruel.
But it used to be that I would go to a fast food restaurant for two reasons: it was fast, and it was cheap. That was it, and it was enough. Sometimes my order would be wrong, but it would be fast and cheap. There’s a reason that Little Caesar’s does not offer a pizza called the Hot-N-Ready-N-Good; that last descriptor is not necessary. America wants a cheap pizza that is hot and ready, and everything else is incidental.
The point I am gradually arriving at, Wendy’s, is this: if you are going to charge nearly 25 American dollars for a burger, a salad, and two small orders of french fries, there is a certain baseline level of competence that is now expected in this transaction. I expect your employees to be paid enough to care that the food I receive is what I actually ordered and not a loose approximation. This isn’t jazz. No one likes jazz, not even the people who claim to.
I checked online to find out how much Wendy’s pays its employees, and I discovered that the top salary for a manager — not just an employee, but the actual manager — is $20.25 per hour. That means that even the manager of the Wendy’s I went to would have to work more than one hour to pay for the dinner I picked up on April 28.
How much money does the restaurant make in an average hour? I couldn’t find that online, but based on the number of customers I saw coupled with your menu prices, I’m guessing it’s somewhere between “enough money to pay the staff a living wage” and “the GDP of a small island nation.”
Do you ever feel like this nation has become unmoored, Wendy’s? I went to Target the other day and there wasn’t a single cashier, just endless self-checkouts. I’m an introverted person, but even I enjoy a brief interaction with a cashier. Everything is somehow becoming both more expensive and more depersonalized. I feel like in another ten years, every consumer transaction will end with a robot stealing your wallet right before a pneumatic piston fires you in the general direction of the parking lot. But at least the piston will have a rainbow spray-painted on it so that the company can virtue signal their commitment to diversity.
Anyway, feel free to send me a gift card or something.
Ben R. Williams