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Turning a 1850s Farmhouse Into an Arby’s


I’ve heard my fair share of creative real estate plays in the franchise world, but newly released plans for a new Arby’s in Pennsylvania takes the cake as the most creative adaptive reuse in the franchised restaurant business.

After nearly two years of working with developers and township commissioners, Arby’s franchisee Dave Bhasin is on the verge of breaking ground on one of the most unique Arby’s in the company’s history. Helping to maintain a historic site in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dave is transitioning a one-time farmhouse built in the 1850s into a modern-day Arby’s.

Located in front of the Hamilton Crossings shopping center, the restaurant development project has been an ongoing collaboration between Bhasin, Arby’s, Red Architecture and the local township.

The original stone walls, gable roof, windows and shutters of the farmhouse are expected to be preserved and will provide guests with a unique dining experience. Additionally, Bhasin and his team are adding wood plank flooring and a second level of seating in the interior, as well as an outdoor seating area.

A multi-brand franchisee, this isn’t Bhasin's first attempt at trying something different. He helped Arby’s test its “Kitchen of the Future” concept in 1990s, which led to a growth spurt for the brand. When he saw the opportunity to acquire a prime piece of real estate in the township, he couldn’t pass up the chance to once again be ahead of the curve.

“As we continue to grow in to new markets, we have to get even more creative in how we build our restaurants,” said Wade Cooper, vice president of architecture and design for Arby’s. “Innovation often comes from our franchisees, and Dave is no stranger to innovation. He’s a skilled operator, and it was our privilege to help him develop what will be a remarkable Arby’s restaurant.”

The estimated 3,000-square-foot Arby’s is expected to break ground in October or November, with a grand opening anticipated in 2019. The restaurant will create approximately 35 new jobs.

I’m not sure if this unique Arby’s indicates any trends on the horizon, other than operators getting more creative than ever to find available real estate. Or maybe somebody spent a little too much time watching HGTV last weekend? Whatever the cause, I love it and hope I get to see it for myself once it’s up and running. Very cool, Arby’s.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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