Japan Today

Wendy's to be relaunched in Japan in December


Two years after exiting the Japanese market, American fast-food restaurant Wendy's will be relaunched in early December with the first store to open in central Tokyo.

Wendy’s/Arby’s International Inc and Higa Industries Co Ltd, a successful food importer and distributor based in Tokyo, have signed a joint venture agreement to develop and operate Wendy’s restaurants in Japan.

Higa Industries is led by Ernest Higa, who owned and operated 180 Domino’s Pizza stores in Japan before selling the business in February 2010. A pioneer of the Japanese home delivery market, Higa’s stores became known for gourmet pizza products and the use of the Internet and wireless technology to promote menu items and enhance the customer ordering experience.

This is the first joint venture for Wendy’s/Arby’s International. In December 2009, Wendy’s did not renew its franchise agreement with its former franchisee for Japan, Zensho, resulting in the closing of 71 restaurants.

Higa said that since that time, there had been a huge Wendy's following in Japan that developed on social media, urging Wendy's to return to the Japanese market.

Higa said that Wendy's Japan will feature the company's new Project Gold Hamburger (a remake of its 42-year-old hamburger brand), warmer, crunchier buns, as well as traditional items like baked potatoes and salad lines. Besides the signature products, he said that Wendy's Japan will differentiate from its competitors by adding new products like premium sandwiches and hamburgers with gourmet toppings, all served in a contemporary atmosphere that should "exceed the expectations of Japanese consumers.”

At present, Higa Industries is importing and distributing to the institutional trade ethnic food products and ingredients, such as basil, avocado, pimento, garlic and olive oil.

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even the baconator?? I could go for a big bacon classic right now

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The baked potatoes are a must.

2 ( +4 / -3 )

Wendy's change of mind...found new customers or betting on $Yen exchange?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wishing Wendy`s a speedy return to the Japanese market!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Cant quite figure out why they left so quickly in the first place, but welcome back Wendys and bring your baked potatoes with you please!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ernie Higa is a true American entrepreneur in a country with a lot of pretend ones. I hope he has great success bringing the Wendy's brand back to Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is the last thing anybody's waistline needs. Variety is the spice of life. Yo quero Taco Bell (Even if it is garbage) Japan will keep it clean.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Loved much of the menu at Wendy's before they left.

As for why they left, probably some geezer got in a position of power and decided to pull the plug simply cause he could. You'd be surprised at how often this kind of "touchy feely" decision making is done in business circles in Japan. :-(

0 ( +1 / -1 )


I LOVE Wendy's, when they closed shop in Japan 2 years ago, I was almost in tears, I just love Wendy's onion rings and burgers, especially the chicken mushroom and cream sauce,

I remember one time I ordered some fish burger at Wendy's here and the guys started making it in the back and brought it out to my table a few minutes later, the fish was straight from the deep fry and sizzling hot, i took once bite, burned my lips and the juices from the burger shot off to the people sitting on the other table. I can never forget Wendy's!

I'm so glad they will be back.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Great News please publish a list of store locations once available.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

wendy's has arguably the best burgers in the biz. great combo of ketchup, mayo and pickles on the wendy's burger. it'll be interesting to see what the new burgers will taste like.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can't quite understand why they left in the first place, and it was a major disappointment. Where else can you get chili-fries and a great burger with REAL-tasting bacon? Hurry up and spread, Wendy's, and prosper!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agreed Wendy's is nice but they had way too few stores previously. Hoping for better.

Also would be nice if Steers or Longhorns would open shops here, now those are great burgers..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wendy's is much better than McDonald's; for a chain restaurant, they make a good burger. They should definitely return to the Japanese market for good this time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There was some Japanese nutritionist who advanced the theory (given as advice to mothers) that healthy/unhealthy eating could be differentiated by whether or not the food was consumed using chopsticks or held by the fingers. It's an interesting theory and there is probably something to it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Wendy's is much better than McDonald's;

That's right, I can second that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Zensho opted out because Wendy's/Arby's International wanted a hefty increase in the Japan franchise fee. Seems like a very bad decision on the part of Wendy's/Arby's. It will now take a while to get back to speed here. Perhaps in Japan Wendy's will now need to become more of an up-market product in choice locations only.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


these articles seems to suggest otherwise:



seems like zensho wanted to pursue their more profitable brand which is sukiya. smart move b/c sukiya is the #1 gyudon joint in japan now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wendys has some good food on their menu here in the states, hopefully when i make it to Japan they are open and i get to have a burger from them on the other side of the world.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Virtuoso: "There was some Japanese nutritionist who advanced the theory (given as advice to mothers) that healthy/unhealthy eating could be differentiated by whether or not the food was consumed using chopsticks or held by the fingers. It's an interesting theory and there is probably something to it."

Hogwash! That would suggest that a deep-fried pork cutlet covered in Kagome tonkatsu sauce is healthier than a veggie sandwich on whole wheat (or the like). I bet if you checked out where this nutritionist gets his/her funding you'd see it comes from a Wa-shoku or chopstick company or something. Healthy food and chopsticks have absolutely zero correlation.

Back to Wendy's, though... looking forward to it! Hurry up and open one in Osaka! A frosty would hit the spot as well.

2 ( +4 / -2 )


Thanks your comments. I was recalling the bit about the franchise fee being too high, and I might be mistaken on that point. However many articles from late 2009 make clear that the decision was made by Zensho, not by Wendy's Arby's International, and that profit considerations (return on investment and intense competiton) were the main factor. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/02/business/global/02wendys.html

This still suggests to me that Wendy's/Arby's Intrernational misread the potential of the Japanese market and were greedy in their target for the contract re-negotiation. Will Wendy's in Japan ever return to 71 stores? Time will tell.....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good news for burger lovers. Much better than McDonald's, but personally can't make up my mind between Burger King and Wendy's. Seems like their baked potatoes have a huge following, though.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hope Higa introduces a delivery service when Wendy's returns!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Domino’s Pizza is gourmet? You got to be joking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

going to wendy's in japan ain't good. junk food ain't my favorite, sorry wendy. actually, ain't sorry at all. why don't you stay home wendy, or go to china

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I remember going to Wendy's a few times but they only had small square hamburger paddies and were not cheap. Hope they do better this time. I often get a cheese 1/4lb.er and stack it with my own lettuce, tomatoe and thich onion that fits the bill at Mac.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"warmer, crunchier buns"

Yea! This is what makes Beckers' burgers good - their buns are super-fresh, like they just came out of the oven.

"all served in a contemporary atmosphere"

This should be interesting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Moderator Sep. 21, 2011 - 08:23AM JST Wendy's will return to Japan in November.

Was there a problem with the launch? It seems to have been pushed back.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A burger once and a while is no harm to most people. I do miss the Wendys in Music City on gate 2 street in Okinawa. It was easy to get a quick lunch after going to the Ryukyu bank across the street.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hard Rock Cafe is the best foreign restaurant in Japan, but Wendy's potatoes are very welcome.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I for one would not dream of going in there unless there was a "100% NON SMOKING" sign plastered on the door. Is there? Does anyone know?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Soon as I heard their Project Gold hamburger, the new flagship offering, had a buttered bun, I knew I certainly would not be chowing down on one...they even got rid of the mustard!. Who on earth puts butter on their hamburger buns?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


lol, about the chopsticks-healthy, hands-unhealthy concept. Where in japan do they sell whole wheat bread? Veggie sandwich? I would if I could...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At least Higa is American! Ernest is an Okinawan-American from Honolulu. So many seemingly American brands here are operated exclusively by Japanese interests who clean up on American ideas and concepts. Krispy Kreme is Lotte - Dean and Delucca is also Japanese owned here. Tullys isn't at all American - ask anyone working there. Cold Stone isn't either. And the list goes ON AND ON AND ON.... Right now America needs all the revenues from exports it can get. US companies should operate here on their own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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