Wendy’s launching vegetarian burger, expanding into Central Asian and Eastern Europe

Wendy’s Launches New Limited Time Spicy Black Bean Burger Only in Columbus, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh Markets. (Hand-out/The Wendy's Company/TNS)
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Patrick Cooley The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

Wendy’s is the latest fast-food chain to jump on the vegetarian bandwagon, announcing the release of a black bean burger to be sold on a limited basis in three cities, including Columbus.

At the same time, the Columbus-based burger giant announced plans to open dozens of stores in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Wendy’s, which is headquartered in Dublin, will launch the Spicy Black Bean Burger in Columbus, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville next week.

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The newest sandwich includes a black bean vegetable patty with chipotle jalapenos, melted pepper jack cheese and spicy chipotle sauce. It will be available while supplies last, according to a news release.

Other fast food chains already sell burgers with meat alternatives.

Burger King debuted the Impossible Whopper to great fanfare in 2019. The sandwich uses an Impossible patty, which is designed to mimic the taste and texture of beef.

And McDonald’s unveiled the “McPlant” burger in Sweden and Denmark in February.

But the success of such plant-based alternatives is mixed.

Earlier this week, reports swirled that Dunkin Donuts pulled the plant-based Beyond Sausage sandwich from its menu, although the company said the breakfast item is still available in some major cities.

In another announcement this week, Wendy’s said it will work with the Republic of Georgia-based Kusto Group and the Singapore-based Global Investors Limited, which is also known as the Wissol Group, to open 65 locations in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Georgia by 2030.

Kazakhstan already has two Wendy’s restaurants in the city of Almaty, which the burger chain opened in collaboration with the Kusto and Wissol Groups. Wendy’s opened a drive-thru only restaurant in the Republic of Georgia’s Tbilisi district in May.

The fast food chain already has thousands of locations throughout dozens of countries, but has announced numerous international moves in recent years.

The planned expansion in Eastern Europe and Central Asia comes on the heels of a move into the United Kingdom. Wendy’s announced the grand opening of a restaurant in Reading, England in the spring, the first of possibly hundreds of Wendy’s restaurants throughout the island nation.

And last year, the chain partnered with Rebel Foods and Sierra Nevada Restaurants to open 150 traditional restaurants and 250 ghost kitchens throughout India.

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