Posted by: COSI | September 18, 2009

Did You Know the COSI & Wendy’s Connection?

I was coming back from a meeting this morning and a scene on Broad Street struck me enough to pull over and gawk. It was a nostalgic and stirring sight to me.

When I first visited COSI in 1987, it was at the old 280 Broad Street location with a Wendy’s restaurant across the street. What I didn’t find out until later was that that was the FIRST Wendy’s restaurant opened up by Dave Thomas.

Popular lore (at least at COSI) was that Dave Thomas picked that location specifically because it was across from COSI. Whether that is true or not, COSI and Wendy’s had a great symbiotic relationship. COSI didn’t have a café and all the families and school kids could just go across the street to eat and come back to COSI. Wendy’s had a “captive” audience of the hundred’s of thousands of visitors to COSI year in and year out. They seemed like a natural pair.

Well, COSI moved, the original Wendy’s didn’t have the modern features of a drive through, large parking lot and I was saddened to see it close last year.

old Wendy'sold COSI 280 Broad StreetToday, driving past it and the old COSI location, I saw major destruction to the old Wendy’s. After stopping to look more closely, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t being torn down but being renovated and repurposed.

But to some degree, my personal memories of the COSI/Wendy’s combination came to full closure with the familiar façade at Wendy’s now stripped off and gone. COSI and Wendy’s have both moved on and evolved, but I’ll keep those early fond memories from when I was introduced to COSI—never thinking that someday I’d have the privilege of leading this great science center.

Do you have memories of going to COSI and eating across at the first Wendy’s? I’d love to hear about them.



  1. I remember it! Lunch at Wendy’s was always a favorite part of the field trip visit to COSI. Here’s a pic on flickr:

  2. Yes, yes! When I was a kid we would always stop at Wendy’s after going to COSI. It was wired together in my brain (and still is today somewhat!) that the original Wendy’s was across from COSI. Maybe in a parallel universe all of the new sandwich research for Wendy’s goes on in the old COSI, just like how OSU has the Center for Family Research at COSI today 🙂

  3. I loved visiting Wendy’s. We didn’t always go after a trip to COSI, but it really felt like a part of the experience to me. Between it, COSI, and the 5:00 (or maybe it was 5:30) mass at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, we could be downtown a long time on Sundays.

  4. When I was in college, I was the president of our computer club. When we scheduled hands-on trips, I was always told by the group to find things to do in Columbus (they liked getting out of the Findlay/Toledo area). One year, our group got to come tour parts of COSI and see how a few things worked “behind the scenes”. Afterwards, the group went to Wendy’s and the college boys had to see how many patties on one burger they could consume. (One would order a triple, the next a quad.) The next year, I suggested returning to COSI as we had such a good experience. One of the guys yells out, “I can do 7 patties this year, I swear!” before I even got done giving my description of the trip (and before I even mentioned Wendy’s). The correlation was immediate.

  5. Thanks for sharing–and the photo is great!

  6. Yes, I remember going to COSI and then across the street to Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers for lunch. We were school kids back in 1977, making the big trip from Springfield to Columbus. I remember thinking Columbus was such as big city with huge buildings and highways. Now I live in southern California (San Diego) and on a recent trip back to Ohio to visit family, I thought it was funny how easy it was to navigate the small roads and simple streets of Columbus. Had no idea COSI (and the Wendy’s) had moved away from Broad Street. My colleagues here in San Diego still don’t believe me when I say I went to Dave’s original Wendy’s in downtown Columbus. Now it’s weird… all of the things I take for granted while growing up in Ohio. My wife loves visiting Ohio; she loves shopping for the antiques in central Ohio. 🙂 Anyone here remember the “old newspaper” tables from Wendy’s back in the 1970’s? Hair synging… the gradual change guy… 🙂 Now it’s all different. The Wendy’s here in San Diego’s north county (Rancho Bernardo) has futuristic flat screen TVs and too many chicken sandwiches. Times have changed.

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