Franklin Art Glass Meets Wendy

We’re proud to have been a part of the lifeblood of Columbus for the past 95 years. In honor of this important anniversary, we want to take you back in time and through a piece of our history.

The year is 1969. John Lennon and Yoko Ono were newly married, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, and Columbus restaurateur Dave Thomas had just opened his first restaurant – a fast food burger stand named after his red-haired, freckle-faced daughter Melinda a.k.a.” Wendy”. The restaurant was built in downtown Columbus, just a few blocks from Franklin Art Glass Studio’s original location on Oak Street. In the late 60s and early 70s, stained glass art was experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and the new restaurant’s interior designer wanted to capitalize on the trend. He approached the studio with an idea for stained glass lamps to hang in the restaurant. A prototype was made and the rest, as they say, was history.

After the original Wendy’s restaurant proved to be a smashing success, many franchisees followed suit, and before long orders for the lamps were coming in left and right. The demand became so high that the studio staff expanded to 40 and a separate department was created just to keep up with production. At least five employees worked on the lamps day and night, and the studio got production down to a science. One employee would cut the glass while another would solder. The employee in charge of soldering would use two irons – when one cooled down, the other would continue, allowing for a seamless flow. Two more employees would be in charge of packing and shipping the lamps.

Over the next 20 years over 45,000 lamps were made and shipped all over the world, including Europe and the UK. The demand for the lamps eventually slowed down as the times and styles changed, but they remain an integral part of Wendy’s history and our own story.

The original Wendy’s restaurant closed in 2007, but a plaque marks where the building once stood. You can see an original Wendy’s lamp at their flagship restaurant on Dublin-Granville Road across from the Wendy’s headquarters.

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