Dave Thomas stands vigil outside the new Wendy's flagship restaurant at 4555 W. Dublin-Granville Road.
The new restaurant, across the street from the corporate headquarters, opened Dec. 17 offering amenities not seen in other Wendy's restaurants, such as a community room with Dave Thomas memorabilia and a life-sized bronze statue of the company founder.
Kitty Munger, Wendy's director of communications, was in charge of commissioning the bronze statue of Thomas that looks as if he might have just stepped out of a Wendy's commercial. The founder is outfitted in a short-sleeved dress shirt, tie, pants and carries a Wendy's bag and Frosty.
"The Thomas family came out to see it and they love it," Munger said.
A committee of company representatives, Dublin Arts Council Executive Director David Guion, Dublin Senior Projects Manager Sara Ott and Thomas' daughter, Pam Farber, chose artist Matthew Gray Palmer to sculpt the statue, Munger said.
Palmer lives in Washington, but is a central Ohio native with artwork at Buckeye Ranch and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
The bronze Thomas statue is on the restaurant patio that seats 24, but more signs of Thomas can be found inside.
"This is the only one in the world," Munger said of the Wendy's community room that exhibits memorabilia from Thomas and the restaurant's past.
"We got some of the stuff from the original restaurant downtown and some of it from the company museum," she said.
With a Wendy's sign from the original restaurant in downtown Columbus marking the entrance, several cases display memories from the company's past.
The Olympic torch Thomas carried through Dublin in 1996 rests in one case, along with a Waterford crystal hamburger. A timeline of Wendy's history adorns one wall while others showcase old advertising campaigns such as "Where's the beef?"
Old uniforms, information about the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation and items served in Wendy's restaurants abroad also tell the tale of the Dublin-based restaurant.
An old newsprint table and Tiffany lamp that were used in Wendy's restaurants in the 1970s and 1980s sit in one corner of the community room.
The public can partake of Wendy's history along with a hamburger, Munger said.
"This room is part of the dining room," she said. "It can also be rented out. There will be a reservation process for the community."
The rest of the new restaurant carries the fireplace, Wi-Fi bar, lounge seating and flat-screen TVs that are part of Wendy's retooled look.
"We have a Coca-Cola freestyle machine," Munger said. "There are digital menu boards. It makes it easy to change out products ... . The overall design has changed. The seating is different. The lights are different."
Behind the counter, things at the flagship restaurant are different, too, Munger said. Employees will test new equipment and offer food the company is testing.
"This restaurant will have every test product out there," Munger said. "People in the corporate office will get a chance to try out new things."
The new restaurant replaces the Wendy's that sits not far away at the southeast corner of the Riverside Drive and Dublin-Granville Road intersection.
Dublin will soon take possession of the land for a roundabout planned at the intersection.