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Arby’s is making its triumphant return to the NYC area with their first restaurant in years.  To commemorate, they hosted a “Meats of New York” tour before unveiling the new restaurant and invited us to join in the celebration.

Arby’s has released some of our favorite items this year and has been quietly stepping up their game and really refreshing the brand.  They set up a tour called “Meats of New York” for one day only to celebrate some of the historic meat purveyors of the city.  This is a clear attempt to announce that Arby’s is serious about meat and wants to continue to convey the message of top quality.

The Tour

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The Tour began in the historic Meat Packing District of Manhattan.  In the past, the majority of the meat in the US was portioned and packed in this area, but now there are only a few remaining.  The first stop on the tour was to Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market–a very old butcher shop.  We listened to Frank Ottomanelli talk about their meat and how he stays in shape by eating red meat and drinking red wine.  Then Frank gave us some roast beef and apologized that it had not been prepared by Arby’s.

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The next, very brief stop, was to one of my personal favorite meateries in the city: Katz Deli.  This place gets crazy around lunch time, so the bus waited outside while they ran sample outs to us in the form of a deli platter.  Katz’s pastrami is seriously next-level, and pretty much the gold standard.  It was hard to tell though from the deli platter, it didn’t seem to have quite the same juicy tenderness that it has when cut fresh.

I believe there was another stop planned that was cut due to traffic setting us a bit behind schedule so the next stop was to the new restaurant just west of Times Square at 40th and 8th.

The Restaurant

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Arby’s will be opening this location on December 10th.  The trend in new to New York chain restaurants is to make them really, really nice.  Chick-Fil-A opened its first location in 2015 and it’s very streamlined and high-end.  Arby’s takes this approach too.  They have been rolling out new restaurant designs around the United States that have really improved the brand image significantly.  If you’re in a market with a new Arby’s you probably feel a lot more positively about the brand than if your local Arby’s hasn’t been updated since the 70’s.  This location is a completely new design specifically for the New York market.  The location isn’t huge, but a good size compared to some other New York chain locations.

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There are subway tiles behind the counter, reclaimed-ish looking wood around, and industrial light fixtures–all the right details to convey quality.

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Two nice touches–there are Pepsi Spire machines and a lot of power outlets.  Power outlets are huge in NYC and a much appreciated touch:

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We sampled their new Brisket Biscuit breakfast sandwich, sliders, the Smokehouse Brisket sandwich, the brand new (review coming soon) Steak Fajita Flatbread, and the Reuben.

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Arby’s knows it has a lot of work to do to make it in NYC, but I think they’re doing some good things, and I hope they stick around and open more locations.  I’ve had my eye on a few of their recent Brisket focused releases that Andrew has been covering.  Now I’ll finally have a chance to grab some to try myself.  We will have a closer first impressions post up soon about the new Brisket Biscuit breakfast sandwich and a review of the flatbread so stay tuned.