Jaws have been dropping along North Blvd. at the intersection of Kirby Dr. at the sight of a prominently placed inscription that now greets drive-thru customers of the Wendy’s at 5003 Kirby Dr. Is this just one of those obliviously coincidental following-corporate-guidelines things, or is the management of this Wendy’s going out of its way to draw attention to the under-cover-of-night street-tree massacre it orchestrated late last year to clear away 6 oaks on the corner and that cost the franchise owners a well-publicized $300,000 settlement from the city’s legal department? Or is the assembly of words attached directly to the brick wall, which honors “SERVICE THAT DOESN’T CUT CORNERS,” meant to apologize for the hired landscaping crew’s actions — which y’know, really did cut a corner — and emphasize that the hardworking burger-makers inside are trying to do something . . . different?
In full, the signage reads, “QUALITY SERVICE THAT DOESN’T CUT CORNERS IS OUR RECIPE,” though the part about corner-cutting service in the middle is clearly meant as an add-on to the fast-food chain’s more famous “Quality is our recipe” tagline. For those of you who haven’t been following the saga closely enough to appreciate the . . . humor? chutzpah? contrition? obliviousness? involved here, here’s the backstory:
Under cover of darkness shortly before Halloween, a landscaping crew hired by the owners of the Wendy’s in Upper Kirby at the corner of Kirby and North Blvd. — a street well known for the beautiful live oak trees that line the residential neighborhood of Boulevard Oaks to the east — chopped down 6 oak trees on city property surrounding the restaurant. The Wendy’s had been shut down for renovations. Here’s a set of views taken one day before and one day after the nighttime incident from the Kirby Dr. side:
After investigations by the city’s legal department, the city put a stop to the renovations. A couple of weeks later, it proudly announced that the franchise’s owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, had agreed to pay the city a $300,000 settlement in compensation for the destruction of public property. After paying the penalty, contractors working on the Wendy’s were able to continue their renovations.
Public (and city) attention next turned to some unusually aggressive pruning of trees on public rights of way surrounding several restaurants owned by Dhanani’s brother, Shoukat Dhanani, and his Houston Foods — known as the second-largest Burger King franchisee in the country. But many neighbors were surprised to see chainsaw work continue at the Wendy’s as well: Crews working for the restaurant next cut back limbs of the last remaining tree on the Kirby Dr. side surrounding the property:
Though that tree is expected to survive the haircut, it was a bold act for a company whose tree-cutting actions had been in the local media spotlight.
The newly renovated Wendy’s reopened for business the week before Christmas. Now that the oak trees that once blocked the restaurant are out of the way, customers and passers-by will have a clear view of the new plaque that commemorates the incidents.
- Previously on Swamplot: Kirby Dr. Fast-Food Joints at North and South Blvds. Show Off Their Street Oak Buzzcuts; Looking into Houston’s Burger King Tree-Hacking Problem, Beginning Right Down the Street from the Kirby Dr. Wendy’s; Days After $300K Treecutting Settlement, Workers Are Back on the Job at the Kirby Dr. Wendy’s; City Nets $300K Settlement for Late-Night Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Oak-Axing Incident; City Reportedly Planning Legal Action Against Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Late-Night Tree Whackers; Kirby Dr. Wendy’s Renovation Crews Chop Down North Blvd. Street Oaks Overnight; The Burger King Live Oak Amputation Mystery Deepens; Mysterious Oak Beheadings at the Yale and 610 Burger King
Photos: Swamplot inbox