Saturday, September 23, 2017

Retro Roast Beef

Place: Rax
Lunch: Mushroom Melt, Cheese and Bacon Potato, Sprite

Ex-Girlfriend-From-Hell #1 loved Rax.  She'd want to go there any chance she got.  While their specialty was roast beef sandwiches, the big novelty for her was the line of loaded baked potatoes.  She'd just order one of those most of the time.

With 500 locations in 38 states, the chain was a slightly bigger deal then than now.  There's just eight locations in three states now, and six of those are in Ohio.

The food's still good, especially this potato.  Everything down to the interior is old school.  If you want to feel the eighties again, come on down wearing your best shoulder padded top and big poofy hairdo.

My visit got me thinking about roast beef sandwiches from days gone by.  It hasn't always been all about Arby's even if these days it seems like it.  Here's some of the rare-to-extinct names from the roast beef sandwich glory days.

Barn'rds - Ex-Arby's guy Sam Marvin started this chain in 1981 in Council Bluffs, IA.  Their buildings had a barn shape that included a silo used to prominently display their signage.  The food featured sandwiches, soup, and salads, all made fresh on site with fresh ingredients.  No pressed meat.  You'd think that would go over well today, wouldn't you.  There's one left in operation, and it's in Wichita.  We had one locally, but when it became a Subway, they took the silo down.

Kentucky Beef - KFC launched this spinoff idea in the late sixties.  The menu featured roast beef and ham sandwiches.  Their existing chicken franchisees built a hundred or so locations scattered across the country before the idea quickly fizzled out.  There were a couple of them locally.  One is still a restaurant nearly structurally identical to its Kentucky Beef days and even has the original shield signage. (Side note to locals, it’s Little John’ LJ's... on 2nd north of Euclid.)

Roy Rogers - Where you had chains specializing in burgers or roast beef or chicken, the Marriott-created chain named after the legendary actor capitalized on all three, and did all three pretty well.  The chain once had over 600 outlets across the US.  There's still about 50 of them operating in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey.  The chain is currently owned by the sons of a guy who helped put the concept together for Marriott's restaurant division, himself a longtime Roy Rogers franchisee.  The brothers also franchise a number of Marriott hotels.

Hardee's - Hardee's of the eighties was pretty awesome and considered to have a premium product over the typical fast food burger chains, and that included their Big Roast Beef sandwich.  It had a more buttery taste than Arby's.  You can still find it at a few Hardee's here and there, usually in smaller towns.  However, they tend to make it with their new "fresh baked buns", and something is lost in translation.

It's supposed to finally cool down next week.

I'll believe it when I see it.