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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wendy's New Premium Burger Venture

I don't know if Japan is lucky or not, but Wendy's fast food restaurants are returning to Japan with a vengeance!

After leaving the country in 2009, Wendy's returns to Japan with a $200-million (¥15.5-billion) investment featuring it's new signature premium burger, the $16 (¥1,250)  Foie Gras Rossini.

Featuring its traditional square burger patty, it is topped with foie gras and truffle butter. The Rossini refers to the French dish the Tournedos Rossini that consists of filet mignon and foie gras created for Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who loved his food! 

The Premium Burger (its official title) and other new upscale meals will be sold initially in Tokyo’s Omotesando luxury shopping district, the first of 100 targeted stores that opened on December 27, 2011.

"We think the fast food market here is ready for something different," says chief executive officer of Wendy's Japan Ernest Higa at the opening on Tuesday.

Why does Japan get foie gras and not say Canada or the U.S.? The guessing is that Wendy's may be afraid of upsetting animal rights groups there, as more than a few States have banned the sale of foie gras. I guess the slaughter of cows is still okay - and I am not on a soapbox here, I'm just confused by the double standard.

Opening day for Wendy's in Japan 2011 - with mascots.
Leading fast food competitor in the Japanese market, McDonald's has long previously shown its ability to create a menu for local markets, with its Maharaja Mac made of lamb for India (that whole sacred cow religious thing!) and the Teriyaki Burger et al for Japan. I've had'em - yum!

Wendy's says it will eventually expand to about 700 restaurants in Japan, compared with about 3,300 for McDonald's.

Wendy's ended a 30-year run in Japan in 2009 after its partner Zensho Holdings declined to renew the agreement, saying it would focus on building its main Sukiya chain of beef-bowl restaurants.

"Our partner had a pretty significant business, which was their primary focus," Darrell Van Ligten, international division president of Wendy's says. "Given the size of the different businesses, Wendy's wasn't as much of a focus area as we would have liked it to be."

Notes Shiemura Kyoichiro (surname first), a senior analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc.: "This (Japan) is an aging society, which has more single people who just want a meal fast, but restaurants are too expensive, so fast food is the correct sector to be in."

Wendy's menu pits it against Japanese rivals including Mos Food Services' Mos Burger, in terms of taste, and Lotteria, which has a $22.50 (¥1,750) Matsuzaka beef burger, for premium items.

Shigemura says: "The competition is really stiff."

Not mention Japan's crappy economy... so we won't.

Wendy's Japan is a joint venture between Wendy's Co., which owns 49 per cent, and closely held Higa Industries Co., with 51 per cent.

While Wendy's does have a ways to go before reaching the same success level as the golden arches, this upscale Foie Gras Rossini burger does sound delicious - despite the hefty price tag.

Anyone tries one and feels like filing a report - let Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife know about it!

Bon app├ętit
Andrew Joseph


  1. I used to eat at the Wendy's in Sakura City all the time! The teriyaki burger and spicy chicken sando were my favorites. But when I went to visit last year it was closed... I guess this fatty foreigner was the only thing keeping them open. :(

  2. Wendy's, on this time around, has a better chance of succeeding. May I brag? It is being run by my friend Ernest Higa who also founded Domino Pizza in Japan and turned that into a 200+ store chain in less than 25 years.

  3. >a few States have banned the sale of foie gras. I guess the slaughter of cows is still okay...I'm just confused by the double standard.

    Foie Gras isn't made simply by slaughtering geese (the way other animals are)'s made by force feeding the geese to over-fatten their livers...then they're slaughtered.

    I'm not "on a soap box" either...just saying that that's why some people boycott foie gras.

    As for me, the reason I don't eat it is simply because I think it's over-priced and over-rated.

    My blog post about this:

  4. Hi Tokyo Five - cool handle by the way - yeah, I know how foie gras is created. Force feeding geese to fatten the liver is cruel and unusual punishment for any creature. I can understand, too, why it is banned. I once ordered foie gras at a restaurant... it's over-rated, if you ask me. I think my cholesterol went up a couple of points from eating half of it! I don't mind it as a spread, or even once in a while - but as a meal, never. This burger, however, might be all right - as long as you can stomach the moral outrage.