Johnstown Independent


Village on chain's redesign: Now that's not better


By sending plans for a renovated Wendy's back to the drawing board, the Johnstown Planning and Zoning commission hopes to make clear its intent to build a more cohesive look for the village.

When the Dublin-based fast-food chain presented plans of a modern renovation to the commission, changes to the 708 W. Coshocton St. location were rejected almost immediately, and the estimated $170,000 project was taken off the table until a more suitable design could be presented.

Zoning inspector Jim Blair said that the committee "did not like the look of the building" and that suggestions for Wendy's were given to Shremshock Architects, which was working with the village for zoning and planning purposes.

"They were going to take that back to Wendy's and have them start over, I think, is the best way to look at it," Blair said. "There was very little about the proposed changes that the commissioners liked."

The commission's chief complaints about the proposed design were the red "blade" that Wendy's is trying to incorporate into all of its restaurants, as well as a plethora of materials, which, Blair said, made the building stand out too much.

"They were going to have five different building materials all on the face of the building," he said. "It made the building look cold and industrial. Another comment was that the whole building sort of looked like a 3-D sign."

Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini said the company is "working on design options" but would not specify a time frame more specific than "the near future." He said the resistance from the village is nothing out of the ordinary, though.

"We do have to make modifications from time to time based on the location," Bertini said. "This is just part of the normal process."

According to Blair, the Planning and Zoning Commission is looking for a more traditional design in line with such buildings as the Johnstown Kroger or Domino's.

"We're basically looking for traditional, brick buildings," he said. "Stone is acceptable. And to keep a traditional look to the town. ... I guess we're maybe a little old school."

Blair said the commission is becoming increasingly diligent about the design, adding that when the village began expanding, older commissions made mistakes that newer commissioners don't want to repeat.

"The planning and zoning board feels like there were a lot of mistakes made when we started growing out (Route) 62," he said. "Primarily, we don't like AutoZone, which is basically a block building. We thought that that was a mistake that was made by the people who were on the commission at the time. The same with the Burger King, which we thought could have been a lot better-looking building."

Bertini said the new Wendy's designs are intended to be appealing and engaging, and the company hopes to round out the customer experience with the new visuals.

"What we're seeing is just contemporizing the brand," he said. "It has visual appeal. It's part of the total experience. The food is only one part of the customer experience, and certainly, the environment is just as important, and those things go hand in hand."

Although Wendy's might have modernity in mind, Blair said, he thinks the style would be more suited to Las Vegas than Johnstown.

"In the case of what Wendy's wanted to do, it cheapened the look of the building," he said. "When you get to the point where you're covering up existing brick that's in good condition with shiny and ritzy stuff, that's not going to be well-accepted here."