Fast-Food Deer-Meat Sandwich Is a Hit with Hunters

▪ 100 sandwiches were sold in the first 75 minutes at the Nashville location alone
▪ Arby's offered the sandwiches at 17 locations with strong deer hunting traditions
▪ Venison meat was imported from New Zealand due to USDA restrictions

Thick-cut venison steak and crispy onions, served on a toasted roll. Credit: Arby’s Restaurant Group

Nashville, Tennessee — A fast-food chain restaurant offering venison sandwiches as part of a promotion scheduled to extend through November 3 has sold out on the first day, Saturday, October 29, 2016. The restaurant in question is the Nashville, Tennessee, MetroCenter Arby’s at 2044 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

Nashville’s MetroCenter Arby’s Location. Credit: Google Maps

Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. announced on October 25 that it would offer deer-meat sandwiches at 17 Arby’s restaurants — mostly those in areas with strong deer-hunting traditions — to mark the beginning of deer-hunting season. The Nashville store was one of the 17, which also include locations in Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The company is primarily known for roast beef sandwiches and has more than 3,300 locations.

Venison meat. Credit: FootosVanRobin / Wikimedia Commons

Arby’s said the sandwich features thick-cut venison steak and crispy onions, served on a toasted roll. Each sandwich’s sauce includes Cabernet seasoning and crushed juniper berries.

According to Rob Lynch, Arby’s brand president and chief marketing officer, the meat in the sandwich is “100% deer.”

Lynch added that the sandwich is part of the chain’s “It’s Meats Season” campaign, which celebrates the start of hunting season and seeks to attract hunters as a unique demographic group in select areas. The stores included in the promotion have a camouflage-motif decor.

“We stuck a nerve, in a good way, with hunters,” said Luke DeRouen, ‎Arby’s senior director of brand communications and content. He affirmed that the Nashville location sold 100 sandwiches in the first 75 minutes and went through more than 250 sandwiches — its allocation for the 6-day promotion — in 5 hours. He reported,

“Some people drove from an hour away to try it,”

Nashville customer Corey Smith, who comes from a family of hunters, bought the $5 sandwich and commented,

“It has good flavor, but it’s a little tough.”

Image by Antranias from Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay / Manfred Antranias / Creative Commons

Nevertheless, Jim Myers, the food and drink columnist for Nashville’s principal daily newspaper The Tennessean, liked the sandwich, saying, “I was pleasantly surprised to find this one more tender than expected.” He went on to observe, “The flavor was good, and the tangy sauce worked to balance the meat, which had just a hint of gaminess.” However, he noted, “My biggest complaint was with the texture, which was too mealy for my taste.”

The stores have limited sales to two venison sandwiches per customer.

“Everyone thought we were going to serve shaved venison,” DeRouen said, but instead each sandwich features a 5.5-ounce cut of premium-cut top and bottom round steak from the hind quarter of the deer.

Because the USDA doesn’t permit American restaurants to serve wild-harvested deer, Arby’s has sourced the meat from New Zealand. The steaks are from free-range farmed red deer that feed on fresh grass. The meat is vacuum-sealed and slow-cooked in hot water baths at 135 F for 3.5 hours before being shipped to the Arby’s restaurants for reheating.

Arby’s brand president Rob Lynch affirmed,

“Bringing venison to our menu also allows us to continue to set ourselves apart from the competition when it comes to proteins,..You simply can’t find this at other restaurant chains.”

Lynch concluded by saying he is confident that “deer hunters are going to love this sandwich.”

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