Wendy's channels Silicon Valley

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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Wendy's bacon and blue on brioche burger
Wendy's Dublin Restaurant Support Center goes beyond burgers.

DUBLIN, Ohio – The Wendy’s Company is bringing a little bit of Silicon Valley to Columbus, Ohio, near its headquarters in Dublin. The fast-foot giant opened 90 Degrees Labs near the campus of The Ohio State Univ. in Columbus, Ohio, which it says provide an open, collaborative environment for Wendy’s employees to explore forward-looking ways to utilize technology for key business initiatives.

The 8,200-sq.-ft. facility will house about 25 information technology and operations professionals, who will focus on opportunities to spur innovation, while working closely with employees from Wendy's Dublin Restaurant Support Center.

The facility, which can accommodate up to 90 people, includes a simulated Wendy's restaurant, moveable “stand-up” work stations and a layout that encourages interaction and communication. The atmosphere is “progressively casual yet professional, like work environments typically found in Silicon Valley,” according to Wendy’s.

“Our goal is to create an agile working environment, with a dedicated cross-functional team, that will enable us to take greater advantage of rapidly evolving technology in all areas of our business,” said Emil Brolick, Wendy’s president and CEO. “The labs will be an important asset in Wendy’s continuing transformation, as we work to drive growth by making our restaurants more inviting and by giving consumers greater access to our brand through technology.”

The labs’ first efforts will center on consumer-facing opportunities involving Wendy’s restaurants, such as mobile ordering, pay and other digital experiences. Efforts also will include strengthening support systems like optimizing business intelligence and internal communications technologies.

“Through proximity, the facility is intended to inherit energy and gain perspective from the neighboring university campus, as we work to develop differentiating, interactive digital experiences for our customers, employees and franchise system,” said Drew Domecq, vice president of Enterprise Solutions, who will lead day-to-day operation of 90 Degrees Labs.

The lab is the latest in a series of major investments made in Ohio — the birthplace of Wendy’s — over the last four years under Brolick's leadership. The company has also renovated its Restaurant Support Center and opened the Thomas Conference Center. In addition to opening a new flagship restaurant in Dublin in late 2013, the company says it and its franchisees have generated significant local economic impact through the reimaging and new construction of more than 50 restaurants to date throughout Ohio with Wendy's bold, ultra-modern design.

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