WARRENTON — The owners of a proposed Wendy’s in Warrenton hope to begin construction by Thanksgiving, hire about 50 people and open by mid-March.
Group W AKSAN Warrenton recently closed on about one-half of an acre in the Warrenton Highlands shopping center at the southwest corner of Ensign Lane and U.S. Highway 101. The site will be Steve Harris’ 26th Wendy’s franchise.
Harris’ company runs 25 other restaurants in the Pacific Northwest and is part of AKSAN United Fortune Inc., a chain of more than 60 Wendy’s restaurants throughout the West. He was attracted to Warrenton by the year-round local population and central location in a large shopping center, he said.
Construction is expected to take about 14 weeks, said Jason Graber, a facilities coordinator with AKSAN United Fortune. The 2,400-square foot store will include seating for 40, an outdoor patio and nine parking spots.
About two-thirds of Wendy’s customers will come through the drive-thru ringing the property, Harris said.
The restaurant will begin recruiting up to 50 employees starting early next year, and staffing will eventually settle in at around 40, Harris said.
Finding workers will likely be difficult, with Clatsop County and the state at the lowest rate of unemployment since at least the 1970s. Other companies have reported issues finding workers, and workers have had difficulty finding affordable housing.
Asked how he’ll recruit in such a difficult environment, Harris said the company offers competitive wages compared to other fast-food restaurants and a good culture.
“A large number of our people work more than 32 hours a week, which is kind of what we consider full time,” Harris said.
Wendy’s is one of the largest fast-food chains globally, with more than 6,500 locations. The closest Wendy’s to Warrenton is a branch in Longview, Washington. The only other location on the Oregon Coast is in Coos Bay.
During an investor meeting last year, the company unveiled plans for an additional 1,000 locations by 2020, including 500 more in North America, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, a food service publication.