EAST VILLAGE — After a three-month closure, fans craving a "Baconater" or a free Frosty to celebrate the just remodeled Wendy's were lined up outside the door by 9 a.m. Monday, according to an official.
"We are trying to get our name back. It was run down before, not a great place. We are happy to be here and want the neighborhood to come back to us," said Araya Williams, an assistant manager at the Wendy's just west of Ashland Avenue, 1623 W. Division St.
Wendy's revamp to the new "Image Activation" design was part of an effort by the Dublin, Ohio-based chain to renovate 6,000 nationwide outposts. The store first closed for remodeling on Easter Sunday.
Wendy's, which is open until 4 a.m. daily, employs around 55 workers over two shifts. The workers are now viewable through an open kitchen as they prepare meals for drive-through customers and a steady steam of diners waiting to order at the counter.
The newly remodeled Wendy's. (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
A new outdoor patio features three tables, a bike rack for at least six bikes and some flower plantings. Previously there was no outdoor dining area.
Williams said the basket of mints at the front counter, a more personal touch, is here to stay, along with a digital screen where customers can see their order being tallied. Diners' names are called out (rather than a number) when their fast food is ready.
It was unclear if a fireplace in the back of the dining room, beneath a flat-screen TV, was real or not, but Anthony Beavers and his fiancee, Erica Phillips, took their meals to a table under the flickering amenity, which did not appear to be radiating heat on the already warm summer day.
"I love it and think it's cool," Phillips said of the new layout.
Erica Phillps and fiance Anthony Beaver selected a spot by the fireplace at the newly remodeled Wendy's. (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
So far, about 800 Wendy's, including 50 in the Chicago area, have undergone the interior and exterior improvements, offering more lounge chairs and booth seating, WiFi access, flat-screen TVs, digital menu boards and more.
Outside on the patio, Tim Hill, who grew up in the neighborhood and said he had been going to the Wendy's at least one or twice weekly for several years, heralded the new look.
"It's a different atmosphere and nice you can eat outside," Hill said.
Some of Wendy's recent menu additions include the 960-calorie Baconater — a double hamburger with six strips of bacon — and tropical green tea and fruit tea chillers on the lighter side.
Tim Hill and Tenia Allen on the new Wendy's patio. (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
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