Arby’s was founded in 1964 in Boardman, Ohio by Forrest and Leroy Raffel. The Raffel’s owned a restaurant equipment business and saw a need for a fast food chain that served something other than hamburgers. The first restaurant served roast beef sandwiches, chips, and soda.
The brothers originally wanted to call their restaurant “Big Tex” but discovered the name was taken, so they settled for their initial’s of R.B and came up with Arby’s.
In 1965, the first franchise opened in Akron, Ohio.
Arby’s expanded at a store per week pace during the 1970s. New menu items like the Beef N’ Cheddar and Jamocha Shakes were also added.
By 1981, there were 1000 locations.
In 1984, Southeastern Public Service Company purchased Arby’s.
In 1997, the company sold all 354 company-owned restaurants to its largest franchisee.
In 2002, Arby’s purchased Sybia, Inc, its 2nd largest franchisee.
In 2005, Arby’s purchased RTM Restaurant Group, its largest franchisee.
In early 2017 the company returned to Kuwait with two franchises. Also in 2017, the company announced that they would acquire Buffalo Wild Wings for $2.4 billion.
In October of 2017, the company announced that they would be selling Elk meat burgers in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana for a limited time. The popularity of this product has hunters angry, stating that elk and deer should remain free-range animals and not become a domesticated food source.
Arby’s was recently ranked the #3 fast food restaurant chain by QSR Magazine, in a survey done in March 2019. The magazine noted that this might be more about their humorous commercials than food quality.