When Arby’s opened in New York City in December, it introduced several menu items not available in the chain’s other 3,300 units. “Since we hadn’t been in Manhattan for 10 years, we looked at this store as a beta testing location,” says Neville Craw, Arby’s corporate executive chef. Located across the street from the Port Authority bus terminal, a main commuting hub, grab-and-go breakfasts are a focus. The brisket, egg and cheese biscuit marries several trends, including brisket, biscuits and breakfast, which is offered here from 6-10:30 a.m.
Betting on brisket
Born out of its brand-redefining “We have the meats” marketing campaign, the Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich was Arby’s most successful product launch. So it cross-utilized the popular ingredient for its breakfast biscuit sandwich to capitalize on that momentum and “promote the Southern revival in food,” Craw says.
Crafting a story
To drive home its “fast-crafted food” mission, Arby’s plays up that the sandwich’s buttermilk biscuits are made in-house. This goes along with its pitch that the 13-hour smoked brisket is sourced from a Texas barbecue specialist and hand-sliced in-store. “It’s all about made-to-order food served in an efficient, high-speed environment,” says Craw.
Taking it to the streets
To introduce the new sandwich and other breakfast items, team members—some donning Pharrell Williams-style hats—walked around the neighborhood distributing food samples and coupons. That included the Port Authority, which handles 225,000 bus passengers daily. “Everybody who walks by is a potential customer,” says Craw.
Although Arby’s serves breakfast in about 500 locations, it is analyzing sales of the sandwich in New York before deciding where to take it next. For now, “the unique flavor profile and good price point of the brisket breakfast sandwich has garnered it a huge following,” says Craw.