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America's Second-Biggest Burger Chain Plans to Open 700 New Locations

In a unique setup that'll serve urban areas.

Which major nation burger chain serves beloved square-shaped burgers and is about to embark on a major international expansion? Wendy's, of course! After announcing its footprint will expand by a whopping 1,200 new locations by 2025, Wendy's execs recently revealed that some 700 locations are slated to open in the form of ghost kitchens.

The restaurant-less, delivery-only facilities will be scattered across the United States, Canada, and the U.K. as the chain embarks on a global fast-food takeover.

The plan will make Wendy's the largest ghost kitchen operator among American fast-food chains, according to Restaurant Business. Here's how they plan to do it. And for more, check out 5 Major Fast-Food Chains Falling Out of Favor With Customers.

The development timeline

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In partnership with operator Reef Kitchens, Wendy's plans on opening as many as 50 of these ghost kitchen locations by the end of the year. The remaining 650 will be spread evenly across the following four years, according to reports.

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Pod-like setups in parking lots

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While they're winning in the suburbs, Wendy's has less of a presence in urban areas (especially in Canada), and the ghost kitchen locations will solve that issue. The pod-like units will mostly be set up in parking lots, CEO Todd Penegor said on the chain's recent second quarter earnings call, where they can serve the urban community without expensive brick-and-mortar restaurants.

In partnership with Reef Kitchens

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Wendy's will partner with Reef Kitchens for this major expansion. The ghost kitchen operator, which already houses numerous restaurant brands in its 120 ghost kitchens in 21 cities, will act as a franchisee of the chain, running the operations, staffing the kitchens, and preparing the food.

Wendy's global footprint will grow by a third

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By 2025, Wendy's plans on operating as many as 8,500 to 9,000 locations globally—a major jump from the company's current 6,800 locations. For comparison, America's largest burger chain by sales, McDonald's, currently operates more than 38,000 globally. Burger King, which was bumped down to third place by none other than Wendy's, has more than 18,000 locations.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more