For the first time in almost a decade, Manhattan will once again be home to an Arby’s restaurant.
On December 10, the company will open a location in Midtown, New York that will serve as many New Yorkers’ reintroduction to a swiftly evolving brand.
“In the last two years, Arby’s has kind of transformed itself as a place to get these great meats you can’t get anywhere else in QSR,” Arby’s CMO Rob Lynch told Business Insider.
The restaurant will be a showcase for the 3,000-location chain’s transformation. In addition to serving Arby’s constantly changing array of meaty menu offerings, it is built in the brand’s new, sleek design with an urban inline building format — only the third of its kind.
It will also serve as the exclusive testing site for a revamped breakfast menu, with offerings such as a brisket biscuit, flatbread breakfast sandwiches, breakfast sliders, and local coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company. If the test goes well, the chain may begin to serve the items at more of the approximately 200 Arby’s locations that offer breakfast.
To celebrate the opening, the company is hosting a pair of double-decker bus tours on December 3 that will visit six iconic meat-focused sites Arby’s admires throughout the city. “Meats of New York” tour stops include the Weichsel Beef Company, Katz’s Delicatessen, and Esposito Meat Market, before ending at the new Arby’s location for a meet-and-greet with Arby’s corporate executive chef Neville Craw.
“We’re not trying to say Arby’s is going to compete with Peter Luger for the high-end steak customer,” says Lynch. However, the company wants to connect with New York City’s history of high-quality meat, as well as the city’s wider reputation as one of the world’s culinary capitals.
Each tour has 60 spots, which will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis on the Meats of New York website.
The tour is intended as a way to demonstrate Arby’s shared DNA with these respected outlets when it comes to meat, according to Lynch — as well as a chance for the chain to have a little fun.
Arby’s transformation has been rooted in this idea of fun and creativity since the introduction of brisket to the menu in 2013. Sales skyrocketed with the brisket launch, which set the company on the path to develop new premium sandwiches, like the current limited-time offering Steak Fajita Flatbread, that depart from Arby’s famous roast beef.
“Our sandwiches now are a lot different,” says Lynch. “Everyone thought all Arby’s had to offer was an Arby’s roast beef sandwich.”
As the chain began putting meats like brisket, steak, and brown-sugar bacon front and center in menu innovation and marketing, the company also developed a unique, blunt voice in advertising. Marketing stunts include buying Pharrell’s strangely familiar hat, launching a Vegetarian Support Hotline, and engaging in a tongue-in-cheek feud with comedian Jon Stewart.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) March 3, 2014
The marketing, meat-focused menu, and new store design (revealed in September) have helped increase same-store sales 20% in the last two years. In November, Arby’s reported 9.6% same-store sales growth in the US in the third quarter.
Arby’s hopes that this success can help the chain expand into new areas — including Manhattan. The New York City opening is one of the company’s planned 60 new restaurant locations and 160 remodelings this year.
“There are a lot of folks in New York who are from other places — and other places with Arby’s who haven’t been able to get it here,” says Lynch, who believes the new restaurant will become a go-to spot for high-quality, quick meals for locals and commuters in the area.
For those who haven’t tried Arby’s recently and who might not have any interest in visiting the new location, Lynch has a different message.
“It’s different than you remember,” he says.
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