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Arby’s, which made a name for itself with salty roast beef, horseradish sauce and curly fries, unexpectedly closed on Wednesday at the former Gage and Tollner building on Fulton Street Mall. It was 7 months old.
Details are sketchy on the incidents leading up to the death, but mourners on the scene on Thursday were groaning — and not just from hunger.
“Oh my god! Why?” said Elizabeth Butler, a Downtown worker who said she ate lunch at the high-calorie hotspot almost every day.
Indeed, for Butler, the loss is doubly painful: “I used to have to go all the way to Manhattan — Manhattan! — for Arby’s.”
Franchise owner Ray Chera, obviously in shock from the loss, wouldn’t comment on the shuttering of the fast-food restaurant in the chic landmarked building.
Perhaps more unsettling is the fact that this is the building’s third failed restaurant since 2004, when white-tablecloth institution, Gage and Tollner, closed after more than 100 years serving seafood and chops. Then, T.G.I. Friday’s had just a three-year run. A Harlem restaurateur then planned to bring Amy Ruth’s to Brooklyn, but the fried-chicken-and-waffles joint never served a leg at the location, possibly because the owner never paid rent before its official opening.
In Arby’s case, there may be multiple causes of death:
• Heart attack: Each Arby’s beef and cheddar sandwich has more than 1,200 calories and 67 grams of fat.
• Purseitis: Rents have been soaring along the Fulton Mall.
“Nothing lasts here,” said Carl Kaiser, who said that he just got out of jail and made Arby’s his first stop in freedom. “The rent’s just too much.”
• Complications from cosmetic surgery: Before Arby’s even opened, Chera’s company was put through Landmarks Preservation Commission ringer to comply with city laws about Gage and Tollner’s landmarked interior. But that interior made Arby’s the swankiest fast food restaurant in the borough.
In the end, lots of people are saddened by the death, which was first mentioned on Brownstoner.
“We were planning our whole lunch around this,” Ted Spitzer. “Now we’re gonna have to settle for Mickey D’s.”
Arby’s is survived by thousands of fast food restaurants, rising public obesity, declining standards and a vindicated Brooklyn Paper staff.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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