Friday, January 18, 2013

[Suburbia Lost] You Can Tell Area Businesses Used To Be Wendy's

- The greatest dish available on Wendy's menu.

Fast food architecture has become iconic along American interstate routes and in neighborhoods all across the country. Branding is important to corporations - it creates a recognizable image of your product. So while the design of fast food buildings has changed over time, the rapid expansion of these eateries into the suburban landscape has created easily recognizable buildings.

My Dad and I were recently walking the dog through the neighborhood he and my Mom live in. As the dog stopped to do his business, I looked over at one of the nearby condos and began to ask him: "When were these buildings built, cause the solariums look like..."

"...A Wendy's?" He interjected.

He was right, that was exactly what I was about to say. The sunrooms protruding from many of the condos looked exactly like similar structures commonly found on Wendy's fast food restaurants.

There's an old Onion article from 2000 that features the headline: "You Can Tell Area Bank Used To Be A Pizza Hut." Below the satirical headline is an image:

- Image via: The Onion (America's Most Trusted News Source)

Given that the structure seen in the article above features a structure for an ATM and extended roof for drive-through banking, it probably didn't really used to be a pizza hut. Yet, the humor of the photograph paired with the headline is that the building's design clearly reminds viewers of the common architecture associated with Pizza Hut. Over the years, Pizza Hut had developed a brand image of its buildings that passersby quickly associated with the mediocre pizza chain.

Just as the angled roof came to be recognized as a Pizza Hut trait, so did the Wendy's sunroom. According to some half-hearted internet research, the majority of the chain's sunrooms were designed and built by the commercial division of Four Seasons Sunrooms.

- A typical Wendy's "sunroom style" restaurant.

In recent years, the Wendy's hamburger chain has been shying away from the lowered floor and glass surrounded seating area that affords diners natural light and views of the nearby parking lot. Yet, many of the restaurants still remain open today. Even when abandoned or repurposed as something else, the sunroom still reminds you that a building "Used To Be A Wendy's."

So let's say you came into ownership of a former Wendy's restaurant. Would you turn it into a dance studio like this one in Highland Heights, KY?


Or give it a new restaurant model and new life as a Chinese buffet such as this one in Milford, OH?


Or would you do something else with it?

Thoughts? Ideas?

Suburbia Lost is an ongoing documentation of decay in the sphere of a perceived paradise. After years of photographing abandoned, forgotten, and often historical locations in the city, this project aims to take a look at how structures fare in the sphere of suburbia. You can view other entires in the project, here


  1. I 100% agree with this entry. There are so many buildings that have been re-purposed but the architecture of the buildings show was used to be. I enjoy looking at buildings trying to figure out their past. On the subject of the Wendy's with the sun-rooms, I've seen one turned into a furniture store, with a "show room" in the sun-room. An interesting concept I will have to say.

    1. Definitely an interesting concept, if not a very odd one. I would think a Wendy's would be too small to repurpose as a furniture store.

  2. From a marketing standpoint, it's brilliant. Regardless of what tenants are in these building today, you still get the image of Wendy's in your mind. It's the same thing with Pizza Hut. That kind of long-term presence in your mind is what every marketer today is going for.

    1. Agree wholeheartedly, the strategy is brilliant. And, right now we live in an interesting time where these companies are in flux and attempting to build more "modern," "trendy" stores. Even still, I've found that I'm starting to recognize those really easily.

  3. Yes but most of those buildings are completely worn out, that's why Wendy's/McDonalds etc tears em down or move into a new building

  4. Turn em into adult book stores. In fact, I saw one in Oregon, Ohio many years ago where an old Burger King was transformed into an adult book store. Drive thru was still active. Order your porn through the drive thru!

    1. Seriously? Please tell me where that is at.

  5. There is an old Mcdonald's in Highland Heights KY that's across the street from that same former wendy's it is now a pool store or something but besides the wearhouse added on the back the front building can still possibly be identified as a former mcdonalds. I look at it and recognize it as a former mcdonalds BUT this is also because I lived in the area

  6. There's a car wash / detailing place in Price Hill on Glenway that for SURE used to be a Wendy's.