April 29, 2003

Arby's Ablaze!

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At approximately 5:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, dry mulch and shrubs in front of the Ithaca Arby’s restaurant on Elmira Road erupted into flames.

An Arby’s employee who identified himself as “John Fish” initially stated, “We don’t have any official statement at this time.”

When prompted, Fish added, “The shrubs in the front of the store caught on fire and it burned a plastic streamer on the sign. A bunch of firefighters came.”

A witness to the fire, Ari B. Cantor ’05, commented, “That joint was like Arby’s, roast beef!”

Fish noted that after the flames were under control, the firefighters went inside the Arby’s for sodas but did not enjoy any roast beef sandwiches.

“There was a burn to the shrubbery, mulch and the sign,” said Lt. Richard Tracy of the Ithaca Fire Department, which responded to the brush fire by sending three fire trucks. Tracy added that the cause of the blaze was still under investigation.

“It had some hickory flavor with all the mulch,” Cantor said. “I think it might have been more effective for them to cook outside.”

Fish, contacted by The Sun at the store at 9 p.m., noted that the employees were going home early last night but that business would be back to normal by today.

Arby’s is currently trying to improve its image through a new marketing campaign. Recent television commercials feature a talking oven mitt as it proclaims the virtues of their “Fresh Take on Taste.” In a recent commercial, the talking mitt is squashed by a roast hot from the oven.

Arby’s was founded in 1964 by Forrest Raffel and his brother Leroy. According to the restaurant’s website, Raffel is a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell. However, he is not listed in the alumni directory.

Arby’s currently operates over 3,100 restaurants worldwide, including the Ithaca restaurant where the brush fire occurred.

Archived article by Chris Mitchell