John Galardi, 75, founder of the Wienerschnitzel hot dog chain, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. He opened up his first stand at the age of 22 in Los Angeles in 1961.
Under Galardi's guidance, the Wienerschnitzel hot dog chain expanded to include 350 locations, primarily in California and Texas. According to the company, it is the world's largest hot dog chain selling more than a 120 million hot dogs annually.
"He has touched countless lives through his generosity as a business leader and his legacy will forever live on," Dennis Tase, who handles day-to-day operations of the company, said in a prepared statement, reported the Los Angeles Times
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"Galardi built a brand representative of a time when life was simpler, a brand that holds a special place in the hearts of so many families in America. He will be deeply missed."
As his hot dog business grew with time, Galardi's Irvine-based company, the Galardi Group, acquired additional fast food retailers.
In 1973, Galardi's company acquired The Original Hamburger Stand, a regional fast food chain in the southwest, and later the California-based Tastee Freez soft serve ice cream chain in 2003.
Only 10 percent of Wienerschnitzel stands are operated by the Galardi Group, the remaining 90 percent belonging to franchisees, reported Hoovers.com.
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Priding itself on its simplistic, limited menu options, Wienerschnitzel stands were originally known for chili dogs. However, they have since expanded its menu to include corn dogs, pastrami sandwiches and chicken.
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