Saturday, October 06, 2012

America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir!

That was the phrase that appeared on the buttons we all wore for about three months while we hustled about, making Supers and Juniors and Regulars alongside orders of crispy potato cakes and hot apple and cherry turnovers. "Would you like a delicious Jamocha shake with that today?" Back in those days, when I was an Arby's employee, our goal at the counter was to serve two to three customers in two to three minutes. It was the epitome of fast food. Our store was located on the edge of town, and our lunch trade was made up in large part of IBM cubicle dwellers who roared down the highway and into our lobby with just enough time to roar on back to savor their beefy treats. On any given day, they stood four to five deep at each of our three cash registers, and as soon as one got their bag of food, another would step up.
In those early days, our regular customers knew what they wanted and didn't bother to peruse the menu. They just let us know what permutation they wanted their sliced meat to come in, and we got it to them. In two to three minutes. Even the newbies who were lured to our doors via the coupons that appeared in weekly circulars came because they knew what they wanted: Roast Beef. Yes sir!
Sure, there were those who lived on the edge with the microwaved sensation called the "Hamchy," because calling it a "Ham and Cheese" would be boring. Some wanted their super to be tomato free. Others wanted a slice of Swiss melted on their Junior. There were even those who favored a sliced turkey sandwich. We got it for them. In two to three minutes. And then the big-wigs in corporate decided to introduce new menu items: Sub sandwiches. This meant new combinations, new buns, and a dilution of our efforts. The prep time alone for these seven inch distractions was a drag, but when people started showing up with coupons encouraging them to buy two-for-one the two to three minute world took a hit.
Then came the chicken. Deep-fried and dropped on yet another kind of bun, we were dropping frozen solid planks of white meat into boiling oil and rushing about in the same chaotic way we did when it was a roast beef restaurant, but the two to three minutes became a thing of the past. Suddenly, customers were caught staring up at our menu board, trying to discern just the right choice for their forty minute-less travel time lunch period.
I didn't stick around much longer after that. That was thirty years ago. Now a new logo and a hodge-podge of new menu items are being introduced. No wonder it took me twenty minutes to get my Beef 'n' Cheddar when I went there this past June for my birthday. America's Roast Beef What's That?


Anonymous said...

Jamocha Shake is my new stripper name.


Krs10 said...

We all learned to say "please" and "thank you" working at Arby's.

Anonymous said...

I learned to up-sell. I'm still trying to wash off the shame.