Arby’s is one of those love-it-or-hate-it fast food chains, like Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A. The chain that rose to fame with its roast beef is today still very much roast beef sandwich-centric, but also offers brisket, Angus steak, corned beef, ham, bacon, turkey, and chicken sandwiches, along with salads, wraps, and fried sides. But even if no lunch is complete without a Beef ‘n Cheddar, we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this popular chain.
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Wendy’s Owns Nearly 20 Percent of the Company
In 2008, Arby’s parent company Triarc bought Wendy’sand changed its name to Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc. The company sold off 81.5 percent of Arby’s to Roark Capital Group in 2011 and changed its name to the Wendy’s Company, keeping the remaining percentage of Arby’s under its own umbrella.
It Was Originally Intended to Be Upscale
The earliest Arby’s restaurants were intended to be more upscale than their burger joint counterparts, incorporating some fancier design elements. This plan didn’t survive the initial franchise strategy, however.
Arby’s Was the First Fast Food Chain to Introduce a “Lite” Menu
Just about every fast food chain has a lighter menu these days, but Arby’s was actually the first to introduce one. Way back in 1991, they rolled out sandwiches and salads that contained fewer than 300 calories.
They Launched a Boston Market Competitor, Roast Town, in 1995
The chain attempted to create a sit-down dinner destination in 1995 with the rollout of Roast Town, a fancier Arby’s with additional menu items including comfort food staples like meatloaf, ham, roast turkey, steak and red bean chili, fresh-baked bread, and apple pie. Within two years, however, it was clear that the concept wasn’t going to work out, and it was quietly abandoned.
Smokehouse Brisket Was the Most Successful New Product in Company History
Introduced in October 2013, the Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich (which was made with smoked brisket, smoked Gouda, barbecue sauce, and onion rings) boosted same-store sales by more than 12 percent during the promotion, making it the chain’s most successful new product ever.
Locations in 17 Countries Closed in the 1990s and 2000s
The 1990s weren’t so great for Arby’s; along with the failure of Roast Town, it also closed all of its locations in 15 countries, including Brazil, the U.K., Japan, and Egypt. All of the Australian and Mexican locations shuttered during the 2000s as well.
The Arby’s Foundation Works to End Childhood Hunger
The Arby’s Foundation was founded in 1986 as a way to give back to the communities they’re located in, and has donated more than $71 million to charitable causes across the country. The organization focused its mission on ending childhood hunger in 2011, donating more than $50 million to hunger relief in all 50 states.
There’s a (False) Rumor That the Meat Arrives in Stores as a Liquid
Since 1971, roast beef has arrived at Arby’s locations inside a sealed bag, marinating in a solution of water, salt, and sodium phosphates. It’s then removed from the bag and roasted for three hours on-premises. While the full bag may look like it’s all liquid, the company assures us that it’s not.