John Galardi dies: Wienerschnitzel hot dog chain founder was 75

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John Garaldi, who opened the first Wienerschnitzel hot dog stand in 1961, has died. The company confirmed his death, saying that he passed Saturday (April 13) after a battle with pancreatic cancer at 75 years old, according to the Associated Press.

Galardi got his start in fast food working for Glen Bell, Jr. at a Taco Tia restaurant in Pasadena, Cal. Bell would later go on to found Taco Bell in 1962. Looking to make a name for himself in the fast food business, Galardi decided to start a stand that specialized in hot dogs and chili, something that didn't have a presence in that industry.

His stand grew to over 300 locations throughout the U.S. Southwest, though most restaurants are in California. He later expanded the business to include The Original Hamburger Stand, as well as Tastee Freez, which specialized in ice cream treats. 

Day-to-day operations of the company were handed over to COO Dennis Tase in 1993. "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," Tase says, "He will be deeply missed." Galardi remained chairman of the Galardi Group until his death.
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