COLUMBIA, SC — The Wendy’s restaurant on Beltline Boulevard has closed permanently amid slow sales, the franchisee said Thursday.
“The lease was up on the building, and we had to make a decision about whether to continue in that location or not,” said Tad Dolbier, president of Boone, N.C.-based Tar Heel Capital Corp., which now owns nine Wendy’s in the Columbia area and 75 throughout the Carolinas.
The dynamics and traffic patterns of the neighborhood have changed since the restaurant located at 2089 N. Beltline Blvd. next to Richland Mall in the mid-1980s, Dolbier said. The mall, which once was filled with stores and bustling with shoppers, has struggled in the past decade to remain relevant. It is largely empty.
“It was no longer what we would consider an ideal location,” for Wendy’s, Dolbier said. “It was time to move on.”
Tar Heel instead is focusing on its more profitable properties, starting with a complete renovation of the Wendy’s at 804 Assembly St., which reopened earlier this month after two months of construction. Tar Heel will continue renovating existing fast food restaurants over the next three years, Dolbier said.
The unique building on Assembly Street is designed to look like a two-story structure because that’s what City of Columbia design standards required in that area, Dolbier said. But inside, it is one story and conforms to Wendy’s new image, which was developed based on feedback from consumers. The building is 35 feet tall at its highest point – about 13 feet taller than the typical new design.
Features include an open, bright dining room with booths, tables, lounge-style seating and a wifi bar, according to a release from Tar Heel Captial. The restaurant features a new ordering process, TVs, a fireplace and a Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machine that allows customers to mix drink flavors.
The eatery is going for a “wow” effect, Dolbier said.
“When you’re coming up (Assembly Street), you notice it,” he said.