Wendy’s Kirby Dr. Drive-Thru Memorializes the Corner Oak Trees Its Owners Chopped Down Illegally with New Commemorative Plaque

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Oak Tree Stumps, North Blvd. at Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, HoustonJaws 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:

Partial Demolition of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

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:

Reopened Wendy's Restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

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.

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Corner Cutting

27 Comment

  • Likely they are just oblivious.

  • Why would you not want those trees there? It looks so plain now.

  • Zzzzzzzz

  • Why haven’t the trees been replanted? We need to put in large ones and put up a sign that reads “Trees that hide ugly fast food restaurants enhance our quality of life. Plant a tree, burn off some french fries.”

  • The trees had just started to make this crappy joint attractive; now it looks more like it should – another piece of crap eatery in a desolate and destroyed location. …when do the new trees go in?

  • Perhaps someone might add some gold spray-painted tree stumps to the side of the building. Gold makes things classy!

  • Those tree were gonna block that sign from being visible from the road. I think I understand now.

  • According to Wendy’s website they are re-branding. You can see their motto in various signage reads “Quality is our recipe.” No mention of corners, however. That explains, I suppose, the use of two tones for the lettering; for this location the “cutting corners” bit has been implanted.

  • I think I’m more offended by the lack of horizontal alignment of that text than by the missing trees.

  • “Wendy’s- cutting quality and corners is our recipe.”

  • Where does that $300k go? Will the trees be replaced?

  • Two points: 1) Glad to see photo showing virtually no customer business at this location; 2) From the photo, there was no apparent attempt to, at the minimum, plant new grass to along the curbside there either.

  • Wendy’s uses that saying cause their burger patties are square not round like all the others…. thus does not cut corners. Duh.

    Sad I know that actually.

  • I would like to know the exact number of jaws dropped by this.

  • The we don’t “cut corners” line is probably a reference to the fact that Wendy’s burgers are square and have corners, while most burgers are round and, therefore, do not have corners. Agree that this is a strange coincidence, but it is likely just that.

  • i realize that this story gets comments, but please give it a rest already.

  • Swamplot,
    Somebody has requested that you give it a rest already. Please take note.

  • – Says the person who just commented.

  • No, no, we must keep discussing these martyr trees.
    Wendy’s doesn’t cut corners on your burger but, where landscaping is concerned, shaves (down to stubble) for your dining pleasure. Happy heart attack.

  • I am still appalled at the way Wendy’s corporate office failed to make any comment, little less an apology. trees have not yet been replaced…..what’s with that ? A corporation that has so little respect for City ordinances regarding trees may have no respect for City ordinances regarding food safety. I hope Houstonians do not patronize a joint that flagrantly disregards the laws of our city.

  • To Wendy’s: I will never spend another dollar at any Wendy’s…nor will my family or company.!! I hope my fellow tree huggers both boycott and picket this Wendy’s.

  • Ah, I never got the corner cutting reference before. That means the square block of gray text is like a visual pun on their square blocks of gray meat. That’s brilliant!

  • I always come back to the fact that the McDonalds at the corner of Gessner and Bissonnet kept their trees, despite a nasty floodplain elevation requirement. If a McDonalds franchise in Southwest Houston can keep it’s trees, there’s no excuse for a Wendy’s.
    Whatever that Wendy’s sign says, cutting corners seems to be the Dhanini’s motto: “we cut corners in store design, we cut down trees because we hate shade, but trust us, we put a lot of effort into our burgers. *wink* *wink*”

  • Who’s their PR Director? Bad taste or in your face?

  • That slogan is quite the mouthful. And agree they seemed to have cut corners on installation of the “Quality” text which means the text was probably installed by the same covert gang of tree butchers.

  • I live within a stone’s throw of this Wendy’s. I’m still disgusted about what happened and will never spend another cent at any Wendy’s in the world. I didn’t realize that the same jerk who owns this Wendy’s also has a brother who owns a ton of Burger Kings. Bye-bye Burger King! I don’t understand how people choose not to respect nature.

  • What a sad shame. The only thing that makes Kirby halfway tolerable are the trees. Wendy’s you won’t get a dime of my money.