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.