City Living

The Great Beef 'n Cheddar Tragedy of '08

We had a good conversation this morning about chain restaurant reviews in the New York Times. Here's our talk with David Corcoran, who reviewed T.G.I. Friday's for the Times, and blogger Ezra Klein, who reacted to the reviews.

Working on this segment yesterday got me thinking about Arby's, hands down my favorite chain meal. I lack the literary ability to convey the soul-nourishing deliciousness of the Beef 'n Cheddar, so I don't dare try. Seconds after finishing the day's work, I met up with my girlfriend (I know what you're thinking: a date at Arby's can't be romantic. I also know you are wrong.) and we hustled to the Manhattan Mall, site of the ONLY Arby's in Manhattan. Nothing prepared us for what we found.

My keyboard is soaked in tears as I write this, but Arby's, and the entire food court of the mall, is under renovation. We knew something was wrong when we saw scaffolding and plastic sheeting up. A free-standing sign confirmed there would be no dining satisfaction on that night. I'm sorry Manhattan Mall, but I refuse to pardon this "progress."

Any act that means the closest Beef 'n Cheddar is in Jersey City cannot be called progress. My lack of automobile ownership means I am multiple modes of public transportation removed from the heavenly BnC.

My next trip out of this BnC-free zone is set for later this month. I am a patient man. Until then, I have only these extreme close-ups of Arby's menu items.

My hunger cannot be assuaged now. But I urge you, BPP nation, or at least those of you in the 48 states and five countries (yes, I'm talking to you, readers in Turkey and Qatar) with Arby's franchises, not to forsake the BnC near you. You'll never know what you stand to lose until it's gone.



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OMG! I was so happy when I discovered this Arby's, in the Manhattan Mall. Previously, the only Arby's in NYC was down near the West 4th St subway entrance. I cried real tears when it became a Burger King a few years ago.

Let us pray for a rapid development of renovation at the Manhattan Mall. I haven't had a Beef & Cheddar now in a few weeks, but seeing this blogpost has elevated my need!

Sent by Steve W | 10:11 AM | 5-8-2008

Wow. So New York is not such a hot place after all. Only one Arby's? Fail

Sent by J Rees | 10:15 AM | 5-8-2008

ha! I live down the block from an Arby's. My sister shares your affinity for Beef 'n Cheddar sandwiches. The only thing I really enjoy there is Arby's curly fries (and their sauce, obvs.)

Sent by eliz.s. (@elizs) | 10:27 AM | 5-8-2008

Here in Vermont I can't say I've ever seen an Arby's. For that matter a White Castle or IHOP. We do have hundreds of Dunkin Donuts, if that makes a difference?

Sent by James Cutler | 11:17 AM | 5-8-2008

I live on Puerto Rico. The last time I ate at Arby's was the summer of 2001; I was at West Virginia University and Arby's was sometimes dinner ... for the lack of a Chick-fil-A :p

Sent by Addis | 11:26 AM | 5-8-2008

@James, I know the pain you feel. Vermont and Rhode Island are the only two states of our nation that lack Arby's.

Sent by Mark Garrison, NPR | 11:34 AM | 5-8-2008

while I don't share your affinity for Arby's, I do feel your pain. I moved to Atlanta from Austin,TX for work, and I haven't had a decent taco in a year and a half!

Sent by MamaShaun | 11:35 AM | 5-8-2008

@MamaShaun, been to Atlanta and know what you mean. Try along Buford Highway. There is some authentic Mexican there, and much more.

Sent by Mark Garrison, NPR | 12:06 PM | 5-8-2008

It appears that living in the Midwest is the way to go if you need fast food. Even some of the smallest Iowa and Nebraska towns have *at least* one fast food joint. In Omaha you can't throw your shoe without hitting some fast food place or other national chain restaurant (In my work building we have a Chic fil-A and Blimpie's and it's only one company in my building). Having said that, we don't have any White Castles and the nearest Steak n Shake to me is, I believe, in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 12:08 PM | 5-8-2008

I've never been to Arby's, but my personal guilty pleasure is Taco Bell Bean Burritos. After careful and detailed study by my schol-hall (go Battenfeld!) we determined that TBBBs were the best mass-per-dollar value of any fast food. In short order monetary necessity morphed into tummy love and I still crave them to this day. Fortunately Taco Bell's are in plentiful supply everywhere.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 2:06 PM | 5-8-2008

As much as I enjoy a big juicy hamburger (no lettuce, no tomato, no mustard, just ketchup -- and a lot of it), Arby's really stands out among other fast food joints for embracing the sandwich. You can't really go wrong with hot beef and melted cheese.

It almost makes Mark's journey MORE tragic...all he wanted was a simple sandwich. And nada...

Sent by smacm | 4:45 PM | 5-8-2008

When I was in the hospital for a week when I was 12 my mom brought me a Beef and Cheddar and a Jamocha Shake everyday.

Sent by NHS | 5:28 PM | 5-8-2008

What is a White Castle? or Blimpies?... I haven't been to a fast food place since I was in middle school, is that weird? It never seemed weird before, but I have no idea what you guys are talking about.

Sent by m.rawlins | 11:13 PM | 5-9-2008

About a year ago the Burger King in our small town (off I-90 in SD) became an Arby's. Oh Joy! I do miss BK sometimes, but I love me some Arby's too. Right now they are running the Round-up in which you can get three, yes three Beef and Cheddars for $5. That's such a deal to be able to feed the whole family for just a few bucks. Yum!

Sent by Dmama | 7:22 PM | 5-26-2008

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