How a Few Stubborn Dutchmen Are Keeping Corporate Behemoth Wendy's Off an Entire Continent
In the pantheon of fast food restaurants, Wendy's sits in my top-five favorites. Possibly top-three, depending on whether or not Five Guys and McAlister's Deli count as fast food. I root for Wendy's. By that I mean, I root for there to always be a Wendy's within a couple of minutes of me just in case I get a hankering for a spicy chicken sandwich and a Frosty. Regarding Europe, though, I'm rooting against Wendy's, all because of a tiny Dutch restaurant that trademarked the name "Wendy's" back in the 1980s and is blocking the fast-food giant from opening up shop on the entire continent.
Located in the town of Goes, Holland (the Netherlands, whatever, I've never been able to figure out that country and its provinces), the restaurant is a local mainstay. Thrillist provides a wonderful description of it:
This is what Wendy’s looks like in Europe: A hole-in-the-wall chippie run by some brute Dutch sailors with a serious case of stick-it-to-the-man-itis. It’s the reason a certain billion-dollar, red-headed American fast food chain has been kicked off the continent.
The Thrillist reporter who wrote the article had the privilege of traveling to Goes and visiting the restaurant. What Tom Burson discovered in Goes and the local restaurant called Wendy's Fish & Chips has placed the small town toward the very top of my list of places I want to go to. (Attention, Paula Bolyard, I'll be happy to fly to Goes and write a seven-part series on the restaurant if you'll approve my travel budget -- the series is tentatively titled "Pop Goes Corporate Wendy's European Dreams.")
The legal details blocking American Wendy's from Europe are fairly straightforward. In 1988, Raymond Warrens, the owner of Wendy's Fish & Chips, filed for and was granted a trademark protecting his small restaurant's name. After the European countries surrendered their national sovereignty and formed the EU, Warrens' trademarked name for his restaurant extended over the entire continent. This, of course, doesn't sit well with the corporate bigwigs who sit in overstuffed chairs in the American Wendy's corporate offices. They have filed lawsuit after lawsuit only to be rebuffed time and time again by the courts in favor of the stubborn Dutchmen, of whom at least one proudly sports a mullet.
No doubt, the more financially savvy among PJ Media's readers will correctly point out the foolishness of the battle. These belligerent Dutchmen could profit mightily by cooperating with American Wendy's and still continue to operate their fish & chips restaurant in Goes. Maybe a name change would be in order. If so, I doubt the denizens of Wendy's Fish & Chips would care, or possibly even notice. At this point, they're probably not even aware of any signage on the restaurant; it's just "white noise" as they enter for their usual grub and beer.
All of this raises the question as to why Warrens and his buddies continue to fight. Well, as Tom Burson wrote in Thrillist, they have "a serious case of stick-it-to-the-man-itis."
This may be in large part due to the fact that I'm re-watching Parks and Rec and am rediscovering why Ron Swanson is one of my heroes, but I love the Dutchmen's refusal to bow before the "man." No doubt, the fact that I hate authority also plays into my rooting for Wendy's Fish & Chips to continue to wage battle against a far larger, more organized, and obviously wealthier opponent.
According to Burson, a visit to the restaurant in Goes helps explain the "stick-it-to-the-man-itis" ingrained into Warrens and company. Upon entering the restaurant, customers are greeted by "the glorious mullet of the chain-smoking man behind the counter, Albert van der Hoek."
That gloriously mulletted man is the store's manager and his presence permeates the restaurant. 1980s hair metal plays almost constantly inside the restaurant and the no-frills approach to food and customer service is matched by van der Hoek's attitude toward the American Wendy's.
Van der Hoek’s staunch, no-b******t demeanor suggests the shop is more annoyed with these accusations [within corporate Wendy's lawsuits] than fearful of the multi-million-dollar suits. This is a man who, in one interview, referred to the Wendy’s attorneys as "those CSI ladies," who "looked too perfect."
Every time I read van der Hoek's statement about the lawyers, I imagine Wendy's corporate stiffs with their neck veins bulging, faces reddening, and fists clenching as they prepare to pound their overly-polished meeting room table in anger because all of their might and money can't bring a few simple Dutchmen to heel.
I, of course, have no way of knowing how all this will ultimately end, but Wendy's Fish & Chips does not appear to show any signs of a willingness to even consider capitulating. In fact, they appear to be doubling down on their efforts to stubbornly keep American Wendy's out of an entire continent. Toward the very end of his article, Burson writes:
As an extra eff-you to the American company, the lawsuits, and the establishment’s detractors, Warrens recently opened a second snack bar in the tiny coastal town Zierikzee. Now, the Frosty-filled franchise can’t argue his Wendy’s is not a chain.
All freedom loving Americans should root for these rebellious Dutchmen. In fact, assuming you haven't already done so, I recommend reread this article while listening to your favorite Van Halen song on full blast. Then drink a Heineken in their honor. What's more American than a group of hair metal-loving rednecks refusing to submit to the "man"?
As of April 4, 2019 my favorite story of the year is how a few stubborn Dutchmen are keeping a corporate behemoth off an entire continent. Movies will one day be made romanticizing the noble Wendy's Fish & Chips' courageous battle against the "man" and ballads will be composed in honor of Raymond Warrens, Albert van der Hoek, and the rest of their buddies. Long live, Wendy's Fish & Chips!