An Arby’s Burger Just Came Back from the Dead

The fast-food chain is known for not having burgers on its menus.

The “serve no hamburgers” doctrine has, over the years, become a signature one for the Arby’s chain. 

When the first restaurant opened in Boardman, Ohio in 1964, it was billed as a way to have more upscale food on the go.

Many things have changed in the next 60 years and Arby’s evolved into a fast-food chain known for its meat-heavy sandwiches even as the no-burger concept remained constant. Instead of burgers the chain offered its signature roast beef, Greek gyro, smokehouse brisket on a bun and the meat-heavy Loaded Italian.

Arby’s did stray from its burger ban once when, last May, the chain launched a limited-edition Wagyu Steakhouse Burger that it billed as “52% wagyu and 48% sirloin.” 

That Arby’s Burger Wasn’t A Fever Dream

At the time, the marketing around the product was less about the chain serving its first burger in 67 years and more about it being a chance to try the American version of what is normally an exclusive Japanese meat at a $5.99 price point.e

The blend of sirloin was what allowed it to be served cooked with a slightly pink center instead of fully raw as is traditionally done with this type of meat..

“Boring Burgers are a fast-food staple, so Arby’s felt compelled to raise the bar with a Wagyu Steakhouse Burger,” Patrick Schwing, chief marketing officer at Arby’s,” said in a statement at the time.

The Wagyu Steakhouse Burger sold out within weeks but, as with most LTOs, eventually disappeared from the menu.

While it is yet to become a permanent menu item, Arby’s shared that it is bringing the Wagyu Steakhouse Burger back once again in another limited-time promotion. As of November 21, it will be available at Arby’s restaurants across the country in a 51% Wagyu and 49% ground beef blend.

At 6.4 ounces, the burger will be served in the same way on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and burger sauce. The meat is cooked sous-vide to recreate the pink color that Wagyu is known for in a fast-food environment.

“With the launch of Wagyu Steakhouse Burger last summer, we raised the bar on the classic fast-food staple, and consumer demand exceeded our wildest dreams,” Rita Patel, Arby’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We wanted to bring back this premium burger for those who didn’t get a chance to try it — and those who quickly became fans — especially at a time when they might get tired of turkey leftovers.

Fast-Food Chains Love Disappearing Menu Items

There are a number of reasons why a fast-food chain may not make a popular promotion permanent. Sometimes it takes up too much staff time to serve constantly while, more often, there is some value in creating a gotta-get-it-now effect.

The most obvious example is the McDonald’s  (MCD) – Get Free Report McRib. The barbecue pork sandwich launched in 1982 and, after getting pulled due to weak sales in 1985, was reinstated as a permanent menu item between 1989 and 2006. 

The sandwich, which McDonald’s has periodically brought back to much customer excitement, is currently in the midst of a “Farewell Tour.”

The Golden Arches is positioning it as one’s “last chance” to try the sandwich before it goes for good on Nov. 20 but, given the massive spikes in sales every time the McRib is brought back, many doubt the chain’s dramatic “gone for good” declaration.

“You need consistency because that’s the brand mantra,” Alexander Chernev, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said of the McRib to CNN in 2019. “But no matter how much you like something, consuming something different … increases the enjoyment of what you consumed before.”

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