Over the years, Arby’s self-selected claim to fame is that they “have the meats”. That’s because they have a wide selection of meats that end up in their truly insane sandwiches. But if a recent trial offer takes off, the slogan could take on a new, more literal meaning.
According to CNN, Arby’s has been quietly testing out the idea of serving up sliced meats directly to consumers—no sandwich order required. Specifically, nine Atlanta-area Arby’s locations are slicing and selling roast turkey, ham, and corned beef. Sold at prices meant to compete with the deli counter at your grocery store, you can pick up a half-pound for $4.99 and a pound for $8.99.
Though it seems similar to how struggling restaurants were turning into grocery stores and selling off certain products in the early days of the pandemic, Arby’s sees this less as an act of desperation and more a chance to showcase how they can conveniently serve up quality (cold) cuts of meat.
“We never felt compelled to do it until now because we know we can deliver a high-quality product with great convenience versus going into a deli or grocery store.” said Arby’s CMO Patrick Schwing to CNN Business, adding that “we’re showcasing the meat without the other accoutrements.”
While Arby’s sells about 10 types of meats nationwide (hence the slogan), this early run focuses on cold cuts rather than things like roast beef that would have to be reheated in order to not mess with the quality. If successful, the test could also go nationwide and/or expand to a greater cross-section of their meats.
Arby’s isn’t the only food brand to experiment with new ways to integrate its products into customers’ home cooking. Chick-fil-A began testing out meal kits, as far back as 2018, though the effort has expanded during the pandemic to include a new Chicken Parm kit.
Will the Arby’s deli counter concept take off, or will people continue to have their meats provided by a grocery store? It’ll likely come down to how good the unadorned meat is on its own, and how loyal fans are to the brand. Still, a tip of the cowboy hat to Arby’s for being brave enough to sell their meat without any Horsey Sauce. That kind of confidence should inspire us all.
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