Wendy's Dreamlift Day pioneer sells franchises

John Tietzen has sold his nine Wendy
John Tietzen has sold his nine Wendy's Restaurant franchises in the southern interior.
— image credit: Douglas Farrow / Contributor

John Tietzen is parting ways with Wendy's restaurants in Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton.

But Dreamlift Day isn't going anywhere.

Tietzen announced his decision to sell the franchises this week.

"I just need a new challenge," said Tietzen.

"I've been in the food service industry since I was 15; it was my 24th year with Wendy's in the southern interior."

He said that he began thinking about selling the franchises last year; however, he wanted to stick around until the Wendy's Dreamlift Day fundraiser, which Tietzen started in 1995, surpassed the $1 million mark.

"Ten years ago we set ourselves a goal of getting to $1 million. We wanted to reach that goal—that was really big for me."

Stepping into the former owner's shoes is Ken Park, a man that Tietzen is confident will be able to carry on his legacy.

"He's from Grande Prairie; he's a very successful franchisee; he's got four stores in Alberta. With this purchase he will become the largest franchisee for Wendy's in Canada.

"I'm pretty comfortable because Ken wants to keep our legacies. He paid to keep the name Inland Restaurants. In our office we have a lot of historical pictures—he wants copies of all of those to be kept on the wall. He's keeping all the staff, managers, regional office staff and area partners—the only person that's leaving is me.

"I think he's very respectful of what we've built here and who we are."

Most importantly, Park has promised that he will keep Wendy's Dreamlift Day going.

He's even done his homework to ensure that he knows what kind of promise he is making.

"He came up here last year undercover and experienced Dreamlift himself without telling anybody. He knows what it's all about.

"I think because of that I have a lot more confidence that Dreamlift Day will be successful and still grow every year."

Tietzen's long-term future is still unclear, but immediately he will be involved with the Township 7 wineries he co-owns in Langley and the Naramata Bench.

"I'm still going to look for other restaurant opportunities, wherever they may be."

When asked whether or not he will ever try to duplicate the Dreamlift Day effort with a different restaurant in the future, Tietzen said: "I believe as a businessman, if you're successful, you should give something back to the people that help make you successful, so I would find something. But no, I would not try to take on (another) Dreamlift Day."

He will, however, look to lend his assistance with Wendy's Dreamlift Days in the future.

"I hope that they will include me. Even if I've got to go clean tables that day, I would still like to be involved in some fashion."

Nancy Sutherland, national executive director of the Sunshine Foundation of Canada said that the way Tietzen managed to get communities involved in the Dreamlift initiative was "wonderful."

"Sunshine does Dreamlifts all across Canada, but no other area has a fundraising event like Wendy's Dreamlift Day," said Sutherland.

The Sunshine Foundation of Canada honoured Tietzen last November by awarding him with the Spirit of Service award in recognition of his commitment and connection to the foundation's cause.

"His support of kids with severe disabilities and life-threatening illnesses has been unwavering."

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