Dave Thomas: Founder of Wendy’s

On this day, July 2 in the year 1932, the founder of one of the biggest fast food chains in the world was born in New Jersey, United States. His name is Rex David Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s and the man who appeared 800 times in a commercial advertisement for his own company.

Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas (Credit: Facebook Page)

Dave was an adopted child of a poor couple. His adoptive mother died when he was 5 years old and his father moved around looking for work. He started working in a restaurant when he was 12. Though he did not finish high school, he was given a high school equivalent diploma in 1993 when he was already 58 years old. In 1950, he served in the US Army until 1953.

After working for a KFC regional franchise for many years, he opened a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. He named it Wendy’s after her daughter whose real name is Melinda Lou. The restaurant became famous for its square hamburgers and also for its “Quality is our Recipe” slogan. In 1972, it had its first franchise in the state of Indiana and in 1976, it opened its first foreign branch in Canada.

Wendy’s was the first restaurant to open a salad bar in 1979, the year it established the first branch in Europe. In 1982, Dave gave up day-to-day operational management but soon returned due falling sales. In 1989, he began to appear in the company’s television commercial. After hundreds of commercials, he became one of the most recognizable faces among the consuming public.

Being an adopted child, Dave established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to promote the cause of adoption.

In 2002, Dave died of liver cancer at the age of 69. He had 5 children with his wife Lorraine.


  1. Ah yes, I definitely remember those commercials! He genuinely looks like a kind man. Wendy’s has good food, salads & chocolate Frosties. I don’t eat fast food often. I have known multiple people that use to swirl their fries around in their Frosty. Ech! Why?! : )

Any comment?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.