Flyboys, Franchisees, and Making Mom Proud
A “flyboy” is just another, more casual name for a pilot. A “tail gunner” is a crewman on a military aircraft who is stationed at the rear of the aircraft and defends against enemy fire. A “radioman” operates – you guessed it – the radio.
You don’t hear these terms very often, unless you’re the owner of the Wendy’s in West Hills, CA. In that case, you hear them every Monday between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. when they turn your restaurant into the epicenter of a warm and welcoming reunion of more than 100 aviation veterans.
Ron Ross has owned RDR Foods, Inc., a Wendy’s franchise, for nearly 30 years and proudly hosts this one-of-a-kind group called Wing’s Over Wendy’s at his restaurant. They gather for food, conversation and camaraderie for what has become a bit of a community institution, covered in articles like this one from the Los Angeles Daily News earlier this year. They even have a Facebook page, where they share stories, photos and event listings.
We recently caught up with Ron and learned what he loves about his customers and why playing an active role in the community is so important.
“I look at my stores and think, if my mom could come by I would want her to be proud that this is her son’s restaurant.”
We bet he’s making mom proud….
Square Deal Blog: How long have you been a Wendy’s franchisee?
Ron Ross: I’ve been a franchisee for 27 years, and I own the West Hills Wendy’s in California
SDB: What does your team think about hosting Wings Over Wendy’s every week?
RR: They feel like part of the family. Fifteen years ago, veteran “Crash” Blechman asked me if he could hold weekly meetings with a few fellow veterans on Monday mornings. I never dreamed it would evolve into this. It’s an honor to open our doors to these veterans who so bravely fought for our country. They are the reason why we are the great country we are today.
SDB: Does your team do anything special for the Wings Over Wendy’s group?
RR: For two hours and change, the restaurant is theirs. We open early, make coffee and even bring in some off-the-menu items, like donuts and pastries, to make their experience extra special. On the anniversaries of Wings over Wendy’s, we’ve made it a special celebration with things like a big custom—decorated cake.
“I’m honored and blessed to open our doors to these veterans…”
SDB: How do you and your team try to carry on the legacy of Dave Thomas and Wendy’s?
RR: The values Dave left us are very important. It’s a tall order, but we do try to do the right thing and to give back. Dave strongly believed in giving back to the communities that support our businesses. I know he would be very proud of Wings over Wendy’s as a fellow veteran himself.