Texas travel center conversion offers big opportunity for Wendy’s franchisee
With nine travel centers in the northeast and more in Texas, Mike Jones from WenTex Foods knows a thing or two about putting Wendy’s restaurants in travel centers.
So, when his phone rang with the opportunity to bring Wendy’s to a Texas travel center that hadn’t been renovated in three decades, he was curious. When he dug into the geography and demographics, he was certain. Like lots of things in Texas, this was BIG.
“I didn’t finish high school because I kept getting promoted at Wendy’s. That’s the great thing about this brand. If you work hard and are committed, you can go as far as you want.”
Situated 18 miles south of Dallas, the small suburb of Red Oak is quickly becoming not so small. The current population is approaching 20,000, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments predicts it will be triple that by the end of this decade. Interstate 35, the main artery from Austin to Dallas, cuts right through Red Oak.
“This attracted us, because 87,000 vehicles a day pass by the travel center, and it’s the last fuel stop coming into Dallas,” Mike says. “At our exit, we’re the only QSR restaurant. This guarantees us local traffic and traffic going into Dallas.”
So, he entered into an agreement with Victron Energy to convert the old Red Oak Travel Center into a new Pilot Travel Center with a Wendy’s restaurant. Mike’s Wendy’s replaces Pizza Inn and Subway franchises. Two competitors out, and one Wendy’s in.
“Wendy’s will be the only restaurant at this travel center,” Mike says. “I always try to make sure we’re the exclusive QSR brand when I do these deals.”
Mike and Victron Energy looked at the numbers and decided a conversion of the building was their best option – even though it wasn’t the simplest. He credits the Wendy’s team in helping them work with the space they had to get the restaurant operational.
The new restaurant has mobile ordering, delivery and four kiosks inside. And Victron Energy landed a rare contract with Tesla to install 17 charging stations. “Each time I have been to the travel center, every charging station is being used,” Mike says, “It takes 45 minutes to charge, so the likelihood is they will eat. And it’s one of the last places to charge or fuel before going into Dallas.”
Staffing the restaurant hasn’t been a problem, either. Within two weeks, Mike and his team hired 40 people.
In fact, Mike knows a thing or two about building a career at Wendy’s. He worked his first Wendy’s shift when he was just 14 years old, bussing tables in the dining room of his local Knoxville franchise. His sister was the assistant manager. “I didn’t finish high school because I kept getting promoted at Wendy’s,” he said. “That’s the great thing about this brand. If you work hard and are committed, you can go as far as you want.”
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