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Arby's doubles down on venison

Quick-service chain also to offer elk at three locations

Last year Arby's became the first national quick-service chain to offer game meat with the launch of a venison sandwich.

But history books would likely put an asterisk by that claim as the limited-time offer was only available at 17 of the Atlanta-based chain's more than 3,200 units — all in areas with avid deer hunters — and only 500 sandwiches were available at each location, which the chain reported sold out in minutes.

Now Arby's is relaunching the sandwich, made with thick-cut red tailed deer farm-raised in New Zealand nationwide on Oct. 21.

The sandwich, comprised of the marinated deer meat, juniper-infused Cabernet steak sauce and fried onions on a toasted specialty roll, will still be available for a limited time and, even with a $7 price tag, $2 higher than last year, an Arby's spokeswoman said it is expected to sell out quickly.

Arby's also is introducing an elk sandwich on the same day at three locations, one each in the Denver suburb of Thornton, Colo., Casper, Wyo., and Billings, Mont.

It's also $7.

“The positive response to our limited offering of venison last year was so widespread and passionate that we knew we had to find a way to offer it nationwide,” Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc., chief marketing officer Jim Taylor said in a press release. “On October 21, we want hunters and meat enthusiasts across the country to visit their local Arby’s and enjoy this amazing sandwich. It’s a perfect example of the level of innovation coming from our teams and our commitment to creating experiences that guests can only get at Arby’s.”

The venison and elk sandwiches come on the heels of another extreme LTO at Arby's: a smoked turkey leg seasoned with salt and brown sugar that was available on Aug. 27 for the season finale of the HBO series Game of Thrones, but only at nine locations (representing the seven kingdoms of Westeros, the Riverlands and King's Landing).

Arby's also has leaned into its "We have the meats" slogan with LTOs such as a Smoked Italian Porchetta sandwich that was available from late July through early August. It was made with pork loin that was wrapped in pork fat that was smoked for eight hours, thinly sliced and topped with melted provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, banana peppers, red wine vinaigrette and garlic aïoli, all on a toasted sub roll for $5.49.

Similarly, Arby's introduced a Smokehouse Pork Belly Sandwich in late April, available through May. It featured three pieces of thick-cut, hickory smoked pork belly, melted smoked cheddar cheese, fried onions, barbecue sauce and mayonnaise on a toasted specialty roll and was also $5.49

Although Arby's is the first national quick-service chain to offer venison, Darden casual-dining subsidiary Seasons 52 has offered venison as a seasonal special for several years.

Seasons 52 had 41 locations as of the end of 2016.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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