How Arby's Lost Its Beefiness

Don't blame recession: fast-food chain just isn't trying
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2009 10:26 AM CST
Arby's restaurant sign is seen Thursday, April 24, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

(Newser) – The recession has had its winners and losers, and when it comes to fast food, Arby's is bringing up the rear. Same-stores sales have been down for the last seven quarters, writes Daniel Gross for Slate, but the economy can't take the entire rap on this one: Arby's just doesn't seem to be trying. McDonald's jumped on the nutrition bandwagon with salads; Arby's feebly rolled out "turkey sandwiches on something approximating wheat bread."

It hasn't grabbed consumers with a memorable ad campaign, and it "lacks the killer non-meat app—McDonald's french fries, Burger King's milkshakes—that bolsters margins." But Gross's real beef is with the...beef. "As I scoured the menu—the gyro, the french dip, the patty melt—I had difficulty identifying anything that had gone through less processing than uranium. A few bites of a roast beef sandwich slathered with goopy cheddar sauce, and I was done."