Wienerschnitzel founder John Galardi died Saturday, April 13, 2013. He appeared in a commercial for the restaurant chain (pictured), which he started in his 20s.
The world’s largest hot dog chain Wienerschnitzel pledged to carry on its founder’s legacy in a statement released after the fast food mogul died over the weekend.
John Galardi died Saturday after his battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 75.
Details of his funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Galardi opened up his first hot dog stand in Wilmington, Calif., in 1961 when he was 23 years old.
That stand would go on to become the iconic red-roofed building where Wienerschnitzel sold chilli dogs, corn dogs and eventually Galardi’s brand of ice cream called Tastee Freez.
The Wilmington restaurant still operates today at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Gulf Avenue.
Wienerschnitzel’s webpage and Facebook page said that Galardi built the brand “when life was simpler,” and that employees were deeply saddened.
"His legacy will forever live on as we are committed to carry on the vision that John created more than 50 years ago," the statement, released Monday, read. "We will miss him dearly."
The chain, now serving 10 states, sells over 120 million hot dogs per year, according to the Irvine-based Galardi group.
Fans of the chain and of Galardi reacted to the news on social media sites, recalling times they had seen or met him.
“The first time I met John it was at my in laws in Lakewood, California. I was 17 at the time. He pulled up in a Rolls Royce and got out of the car wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes. I was so impressed that he was so down to earth. He was an amazing, kind man. God bless you John, you had a awesome life,” wrote Jill Hironimus-Land on Wienerschnitzel’s Facebook page.
Galardi is survived by four children and his wife Judane.