Arby’s lands deal for Egypt expansion Haigwood Studios Photography

Arby’s lands deal for Egypt expansion

Roast beef purveyor plans to open 50 restaurants starting in 2018

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. is expanding its presence in the Middle East with a deal to bring its iconic roast beef sandwich to Egypt.

Arby’s, owned by Roark Capital Group, and restaurant operator Vantage Egypt for Tourism and Entertainment announced Tuesday plans to open 50 new Arby’s restaurants, starting next year.

Atlanta-based Arby’s currently has restaurants in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The first Kuwait franchise was opened in late September.

Vantage Egypt already operates a number of different restaurants in Egypt and is a franchisee of pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc.

And the company said demand for American food is growing in the region.

“We are seeing a growing affinity for American restaurants in Egypt,” an Arby’s spokesman said in an email. “We believe that Arby’s offers a unique alternative to burgers and other existing quick serve options.”

The initial menu will focus on Arby’s staples, but there will be room for tweaking if needed.

“Our initial research suggests that the Arby's menu will cross cultures in Egypt seamlessly, and we expect the menus to be very similar,” the spokesman said. “We are always willing to consider the right local menu item(s) to make our brand the most relevant for our guests.”

That includes meeting religious dietary requirements.

“We will have halal roast beef on the menu in Egypt,” the spokesman said.

The international expansion comes hot on the heels of a major domestic acquisition by Roark.

Under private-equity firm’s direction, Arby’s Restaurant Group on Nov. 28 acquired Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings. Arby’s CEO Paul Brown runs the combined entity, which added more than 1,250 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants to the more than 3,300 Arby’s locations in its portfolio.

Roark has been an aggressive player in the restaurant industry, with stakes in more than 60 franchised or multi-unit brands. The firm’s portfolio generates $27 billion in annual revenue with more than 29,000 locations under its control.

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