The challenge of identifying trends still five years down the road is certainly a daunting one, but is part of Arby's aggressive approach to long-term success and continued expansion. The company, under the supervision of its franchiser, Triarc Restaurant Group, is currently in its twelfth consecutive quarter of positive sales growth.
A key element of quick service menu trend patterns is the trickle-down effect from fine and casual dining. "What is on the menu in a white-tablecloth atmosphere today will be on a drive-thru menuboard tomorrow, only the timespan between then and now is growing shorter and shorter every year, " says Anthony Seta, vice president of menu and product development for TRG. "Just look at the evolution of the Caesar Salad—what had its beginnings in four-star establishments can now be found in a plastic cup at McDonald's." Seta notes that currently, "intense flavors," such as Cajun and Caribbean are found in both fast-casual and quick-serve restaurants.
A new approach to menu planning, Arby's Menu Summit is the first ever to bring together experts from two seemingly unrelated sides of the industry—representatives from both food and equipment manufacturers. "I chose the list of invitees based on their areas of expertise and their vision," said Seta. "I'm looking at the overall package of both the ingredients of the 2005 Menu and their preparation."
Currently, Arby's is known for its proprietary Arby's and Horsey sauces, along with its roast beef sandwiches. The restaurant has traditionally positioned itself as adult-focused. Starting March 5th, a new ad campaign featuring "Home Improvement"'s Patricia Richardson will step up this focus with the new slogan "Arby's. Now that your tastes have grown up." The result of an intense, year-long study of eighteen hundred quick serve junkies, the new ads are expected to reinforce and strengthen the perception of Arby's as an adult brand.
But Triarc believes that it's not just the food that creates loyal customers. According to a company press release, attention has also been turned to developing more modern, relaxing stores. The spacious "Pinnacle" design is found at close to five hundred locations. Its elevated ceilings and bright natural light are, along with improved food selection and hospitality, another part of TRG's equation for an inviting restaurant. These remodeled units have reported a 20 percent increase in sales.
Triarc Restaurant Group is a subsidiary of the Triarc Companies, Inc, that franchises more than thirty-two hundred single- and dual-branded restaurants worldwide, including Arby's, T.J. Cinnamons, and Pasta Connection.