By , Dan Myers
Published March 20, 2018
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.
Arby’s got its start back in 1964, when brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel realized that hamburgers dominated the fast food industry and saw an opening for roast beef. They wanted to name their restaurant Big Tex, but because the name was already taken they just shortened the name of their restaurant equipment company, Raffel Brothers, to a play on its initials. The first Arby’s opened in Boardman, Ohio (just outside Youngstown), on July 23, 1964, with a menu of only roast beef sandwiches, potato chips, and soft drinks.
The restaurant began selling franchises in 1965, and later came into its own as a company during the 1970s, when about 50 new locations were opening annually. In 1971, the roast beef recipe was reformulated into the more processed version you find today and the current logo was adopted in 1975. Menu items including the Beef ‘n Cheddar, Arby-Q, Jamocha Shakes, curly fries, Arby’s Sauce, and Horsey Sauce were also added during this decade.
Today, there are more than 3,400 Arby’s locations in the United States and Canada, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, and the chain is nothing short of a household name in America. Its advertising and social media game is on point, and for the most part it’s doing a pretty good job adapting to a twenty-first-century audience.
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.
In 2008, Arby’s parent company Triarc bought Wendy’s and 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.
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.
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.
Arby’s was also the first fast food chain to outright ban smoking in all of their locations, starting in 1994.
Check out more amazing Arby's facts.
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