Industry News | October 11, 2017 | By Trevor Lenzmeier | QSR Exclusive Brief

Arby’s to Launch Venison Sandwich Nationwide

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Although Arby’s might be best known for roast beef, the quick-serve concept backed up its slogan on Wednesday—“We have the meats”—by announcing the nationwide debut of its specialty Venison Sandwich. Don’t expect supplies to last long when the Venison Sandwich returns on October 21, though. When Arby’s first launched the sandwich last year in Nashville, Tennessee, it sold out in one day.

After releasing the sandwich—made with thick-cut venison steak, topped with crisped onions and a juniper berry sauce, and served on a toasted roll—to coincide with the start of hunting season last year, Arby’s received an overwhelmingly positive response from customers. While initially aimed at fewer than 20 Arby’s units in hunting-heavy locations, the brand is bringing the sandwich to more than 3,200 units for $7.

“The positive response to our limited offering of venison last year was so widespread and passionate that we knew we had to find a way to offer it nationwide,” Arby’s CMO Jim Taylor said in a statement. “On October 21, we want hunters and meat enthusiasts across the country to visit their local Arby’s and enjoy this amazing sandwich. It’s a perfect example of the level of innovation coming from our teams and our commitment to creating experiences that guests can only get at Arby’s.”

Building on the mainstream success of the Venison Sandwich, Arby’s is launching a new limited time offering on the same day in three select locations. Starting October 21, Arby’s customers and gamesmen in Thornton, Colorado; Casper, Wyoming; and Billings, Montana, can bag the new Elk Sandwich for a limited time.

Arby’s latest creation features elk steak covered in blackberry port steak sauce and crispy onions, all on a toasted roll. The Elk Sandwich will lead a series of limited-offering sandwiches from the brand.     

While both game meat sandwiches are intended for mass appeal (at least the Venison Sandwich, for now), the prioritization of specialty sandwiches signals a move by Arby’s to target the consumer base of American hunters, a demographic of 20 million potential customers. The brand’s goal is to please those already familiar with eating venison, elk, and other atypical quick-serve meats, as well as to entice first-time eaters.

If the limited release success of the Venison Sandwich is any indication, Arby’s customers are warming up to the idea just fine.