Surely There Must Be Some Mistake

Remember the old joke about the New York Times?  “Tsunami wipes out Manhattan.  Women and Minorities Hardest Hit?”

The Arby’s that’s been cranking out the rubbery beef, the crunchy chicken and the gloriously addictive potato cakes (that I can’t touch anymore) in downtown Minneapolis for a solid quarter century picked up and vanished like a carnival tent a few weeks ago.  It was the last nationwide fast-food restaurant in downtown.  All the rest – McDonald’s, BK, Wendy’s, Taco Bell – have long disappeared.   There are a few Subways, at least one Jimmy Johns,

The reasons are between the lines – rising rents and, ahem, rising labor costs (Minneapolis has high mandatory minimum wages and compulsory sick time for part-time workers).   They also blame the tsunami of food trucks that line the streets downtown from March through October.

But Minneapolis has become a place where it’s easy to get lunch for $9-15, but very, very hard to find anything below $7.   Arby’s was one of the last of them.

And so it seems that after years of trying to stigmatize and economically hobble Big Fast Food, they’ve gotten their wish…

…but, naturally, the usual suspects are the ones taking it on the chin:

Remaining food options are generally more expensive, pricing out low-wage workers and the homeless, who often gravitate toward city centers. Arby’s was one of the last places in downtown Minneapolis with a sandwich and fries for $5.

“I wondered why they closed, because they were so economical,” Marva Overton, a downtown worker, said as she bought a sandwich last week at Twin City Bites next to the former Arby’s. “It was so cheap to eat there and that was helpful to a lot of people.”

I recommend the Sicilian olives ($2.50 for a one-pound tub) at Sorrento Cucina.

6 thoughts on “Surely There Must Be Some Mistake

  1. Two things killed them.

    1. The cost of doing business in the big city. Min Wage, sick time, and other city rules. The cost of rent and taxes downtown. Yep, that’s a killer.

    2. The insistence from HQ that franchises run the loss leader low ball meal deals that are advertised on national TV. Two beef and chedder for $6 Two “gyros” for $6. Same goes for 2 Whoppers or Big Macs for a low price. Every chain has got them. Franchises are finding out that’s all people are buying. Then they don’t order fries or a drink. Its killing the franchisee. The actual store owners, not the corporate HQ, are getting killed. Fast food companies are not a good long term investment.

  2. The insistence from HQ that franchises run the loss leader low ball meal deals that are advertised on national TV.

    I’ll admit that I am guily (?) of this. Ever since Taco Bell came out with the $5 crave boxes, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ordered anything else. (and I eat there usually at least once per week, if not more).

    I hope Marva Overton realizes that if she lives in Minneapolis, and votes DFL, she only has herself to blame.

  3. Come on people! Save the planet by eating at Fig and Farro. Fried cauliflower for just 12 bucks.

  4. Just for giggles, I looked up where McDonald’s locations are in both downtown Minneapolis and inside Chicago’s Loop. Score: 0 in the Mini Apple (one Subway apparently), 8 between the Chicago River and Millenium Park. The Loop area also has two Arby’s locations east of the river plus one in the west loop.

    When your business climate makes Chicago’s look pretty good in comparison, you know you’ve got problems. And really, overall, Minneapolis downtown is pretty awful in terms of retail of any kind. It’s like the government sector has pushed out all actual business except for prestige offices.

  5. bike;

    You are totally correct on costs of Minneapolis vs Chicago. A corporate meeting planner friend of mine in Cincinnati, told me a few years ago, that although she loves the city and state, she now avoids sending corporate groups here, especially conventions. The costs of food and lodging in Minneapolis, is 3% higher here than downtown Chicago and that doesn’t count the cost of airfare. For decades the “lift” at MSP (as it’s referred to in the travel industry), has been bouncing between the number 3rd and 5th highest in the country. Unless one her corporate clients insists, she doesn’t send them here. Also, according to her, it’s pretty common knowledge within the meeting planning community.

    Somehow, the city does seem to draw companies in, but how many ever return, I mean besides the boat and home shows?

  6. Sorrento Cucina has fabulous food. Their marinara sauce gets very close to my wife’s homemade stuff. It is such a shame that they serve on styrofoam plates as the food is tops.

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