Cedar Enterprises began operation in 1975 as Wendy’s of Las Vegas, Inc. The company founder, Joseph D. Karam, personally knew Dave Thomas, Wendy’s International, Inc. founder, through their work with charitable organizations in the Columbus, Ohio community. Their friendship flourished and as Dave was looking for investors to develop Wendy’s, he naturally turned to Joe. Joe was involved with an investment club that elected to use a portion of its assets to invest with Dave Thomas to help get Wendy’s started. As Wendy’s grew and decided to go public, the investment club decided to convert its investment into franchise rights for Clark County, Nevada.
After securing the franchise rights, Wendy’s of Las Vegas began operations of its first store, located close to the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. As the store grew, so did the company. Wendy’s of Las Vegas added 12 units during the next 11 years. In 1986 Joe brought in his son David, a CPA, to enhance the accounting and information systems. David was well prepared for the occasion as he was already well versed in the Wendy’s system, having worked in numerous capacities with Wendy’s during high school and college.
David immediately saw the potential of the business and implemented an aggressive growth and operational strategy, as outlined in the attached Statement of Values, which is still in place today. During the next two years, the company added five new units and began the search for a potential acquisition. In July of 1989 the Company was able to complete the first acquisition, a stock purchase of 21 Wendy’s units owned by Wendy’s of San Antonio, Inc.
The Company continued to develop units in these two markets until July of 1993 when it acquired 17 units in the Indianapolis, Indiana area from Wendy’s International. Shortly after the Indianapolis acquisition Cedar Enterprises was formed to serve as a holding company for the various subsidiaries.
In July of 1998 the company acquired 17 units in the Seattle, Washington area. Like the Indianapolis acquisition, these locations were acquired from Wendy’s International. On April 15, 2002 Cedar made another acquisition of 20 Wendy’s units in the Hartford, Connecticut area from an existing Wendy’s franchisee.
In the fall of 2008, David became president of Wendy’s International. During David’s three-year tenure at Wendy’s, he led a successful turnaround, which included significant improvements in product quality, operational execution, brand profitability and laid the groundwork for Wendy’s current ultra-modern restaurant design project. Under David’s leadership, Wendy’s rose to become the second largest QSR Hamburger chain in the U.S., surpassing Burger King for the first time in the company’s 42-year history.
Jim Evans, who served as Cedar’s CFO since 1988, was promoted to president in 2008 when David left Cedar to run Wendy’s. Under Jim’s leadership, he quickly and successfully restructured Cedar so that the Company had record setting yearly profits for several consecutive years and did so under challenging economic and sales environments. Jim also led his corporate and Indianapolis teams through two back-to- back acquisitions, adding a total of 18 Wendy’s restaurants to Cedar’s Indianapolis market. Fourteen Wendy’s restaurants were acquired from one franchisee in the spring of 2010; and then 19 months later, Cedar acquired four additional restaurants from a completely different franchise group, As a result of these two acquisitions, the Indianapolis market, with 39 restaurants in total, became the largest Cedar market until October of 2013.
On October 7, Cedar Enterprises grew again with the purchase of 24 Company-operated restaurants, along with two future locations, in the Seattle market. With this transaction, Cedar becomes Wendy’s® third largest franchisee – operating 170 restaurants in five states, including 47 in Washington. Seattle is now Cedar’s largest market.
In addition to the acquisitions, Jim and his field teams opened four new Wendy’s restaurants in only 12 months, between April of 2012 and February of 2013. Cedar is growing and has completed six exciting remodels of the older-style restaurants into the ultra-modern restaurants, called Image Activations Tier 1, 2 or 3. Cedar is one of the first franchise groups in the Wendy’s System to participate in these new remodels that are the center piece of a multi-year strategy to reinvigorate the brand.
At the end of 2015, Cedar Enterprises acquired 10 stores in Vancouver and 11 stores in the Springfield, MA market. The 11 stores in Springfield, MA were purchased from Wendy’s International, which brought the total store count to 214 stores. In 2016, Cedar completed three new stores in San Antonio and three new stores in Seattle, along with IA remodels in our Indianapolis, Vancouver, Seattle and Hartford markets!
David Karam has since left Wendy’s International. However, as a result of his vast experience in franchise operations, corporate restructuring and brand positioning, he was appointed to Chairman of the Board of Sbarro in January of 2012. David is a restaurant industry veteran who was recently appointed to Chief Executive Officer of Sbarro in March of 2013. David and the Karam family now own 100% Cedar Enterprises and currently serve on Cedar’s Board of Directors.
Cedar Enterprises (or one of its subsidiary divisions) has received virtually every major award that Wendy’s International bestows on their franchisees. From the prestigious Founders Award that recognizes the top franchisee in the system to the Marketer of the Year, the Cedar family has been highly recognized in the Wendy’s System. The Restaurant Finance Monitor lists Cedar Enterprises as the nineteenth largest franchised restaurant company in the country.