Free Hamburgers, Fond Memories Attract Hundreds to New Wendy’s in Mérida

Wendy’s newest location in Mexico began construction in late September and is now open to the public. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

By 11 this morning, roughly 300 hungry people had formed a long line outside the new Wendy’s restaurant in Xcanatún.

The Baconator and Frosty fanatics started showing up at 10 the night before.

As the time to open the restaurant drew near, some people began to feel restless and accused others of cutting in line. 

The line of people waiting to enter Wendy’s stretched as far back as the Super Aki grocery store. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The first person inside was a woman, who, when asked her name, blushed and blurted out, “Wendy!”

Not even hoards of locusts and the threat of rain could keep fans of Wendy’s from leaving their spot in line.

“I used to live in the United States when I was a kid and Wendy’s was my favorite, so I decided to round up some friends and camp out,” said Derek R. of Los Heroes, who was fifth in line. 

Wendy’s may have fans lining around the block for now, but the restaurant will face stiff competition from several other international, domestic and local chains in Mérdia’s ever-expanding fast food market. 

This is Wendy’s second attempt to solidify its hold on Mérida’s market. More than two decades ago, a Wendy’s franchise did business at the Gran Plaza Mall, where Starbucks is now. The burger chain was a popular hangout for teenagers and is now remembered fondly by many adults, which in part may explain today’s huge turnout. 

An aerial view of the opening of Wendy’s Xcantún location on Dec. 14. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

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Fans of a certain age also remember one in Col. Pensiones, where Plaza Las Américas was later built.

“We are very excited to open this new restaurant here today, but it’s only the first of several we have planned for the region, said Wendy’s franchise owner Alfredo Jesús Abraham Azar.

Wendy’s was founded by the late businessman Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio. The restaurant is known for its never-frozen square beef patties that protrude from the bun, and for making each burger to order.

Wendy’s in Mexico City’s Miramontes neighborhood. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Wendy’s has been in Mexico for over 30 years and has 28 locations in Mexico City, Chihuahua and Nuevo León. That’s changing quickly. Last year, they projected hundreds of new outlets across Mexico.

The push into Mexico is part of a broader international expansion, Restaurant Business reported in 2022. Its rivals have historically had a much stronger presence abroad.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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