On the highway that connects Mérida and Progreso, in the Súper Aki Xcanatún parking lot, another US-based fast food chain is under construction.
Joining the long-entrenched McDonald’s and Burger King is America’s second-leading burger franchise, Wendy’s.
It’s at least the second attempt by Wendy’s to enter the area. More than a decade ago, a Wendy’s franchise did business at the Gran Plaza Mall where Starbucks is now. Fans also remember one in Col. Pensiones, where Plaza Las Américas was later built.
Wendy’s has been in Mexico for over 30 years but has only 28 locations in Mexico City, Chihuahua and Nuevo León. That’s changing quickly, with an announcement last year that they project hundreds of outlets across Mexico.
Dave’s Double and the Baconator will be familiar to Wendy’s customers. But the Dublin, Ohio-based company is also developing a new menu and limited-time specials tailored to local tastes. A bacon jalapeño melt appears to be among the spicier menu options so far.
The push into Mexico is part of a broader push in international markets, Restaurant Business reported in 2022. Its rivals have historically had a much stronger presence abroad.
It has also started building more ghost kitchen locations in many markets, so their burgers can be delivered without brick-and-mortar locations. The Mérida move, however, appears to be a serious attempt to cut into Carl’s Jr. and Mitica’s turf. Also, in the nearby Las Américas community, there are a number of popular burger places, such as Dirty Grill and Angry Angus.
Wendy’s is recruiting franchisees in Mexico with an initiative called Own Your Opportunity. Wendy’s builds its facilities and then sells them to franchisees while helping with financing, Restaurant Business reported.
“We believe increasing diversity of thought and experience will bring new ideas and innovation to Wendy’s, which will help us continue to grow together for decades to come and to achieve our vision of becoming the world’s most thriving and beloved restaurant brand,” Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s president of international and chief development officer, said in a statement.
Wendy’s is much newer than its closest US rivals. It opened in 1969, promising “old-fashioned” never-frozen burgers. The burger patties are square but served on circular buns, with sea salt fries and the Frosty shake, which will compete with the Dairy Queen up the road. They also serve chicken sandwiches.
In the 1980s, a humorous “Where’s the Beef?” campaign brought them further fame.
While they recently toppled Burger King as the second-largest burger chain in the US, it is still No. 3 worldwide.