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Mourners Say Goodbye to Landmark Arby’s Sign


Nicholas Upton

“Oh Arby’s sign, the meats, the meats are calling,” sang a group of mourners to the tune of “Danny Boy.” The crowd was gathered February 9 in the parking lot of a recently shuttered Arby’s restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis.

A few hundred people stopped by to pay their respects to a vintage Arby’s sign, a monstrous neon hat, that had been at the site for 47 years.

Most people were just there to get a selfie for Instagram and wish each other good will—“rest in beef” was a common refrain. In all, the memorial for the 47-year-old restaurant was among the silliest vigils in history.

Attendees held candles, they held signs commemorating the sign and even marched one final procession through the drive-thru as one organizer belted, “Do you want curly fries with that?” through a handheld loudspeaker. And while the sign has already departed to be auctioned off, there was a ghostly image of the sign projected on a sheet. Fire dancers and grief counselors were also on hand. Many mourners, however, chose to sip from flasks in lieu of counseling.

Organizer Noah Hevey admitted it was all really, really strange, but for him and other Uptown residents, the sign really did hold a little significance.

“It’s an Uptown landmark. I grew up in the suburbs, so when we came into town, this is how we got around,” said Hevey.

For others, the 10-foot ten-gallon hat was a reminder of the quirky neighborhood that once was, before the condos and corporate retail poured into the area. As the story goes, developers bought the land beneath the Arby’s, ending the lease and forcing the restaurant to shut down. And a few recalled some drunken Uptown nights that ended beneath the orange glow of the sign—hazy memories of beef and cheddar nightcaps.

Hevey said he had no idea the event would resonate as much as it did. He made the event on a Friday evening and on the day of the event, more than 5,000 people had expressed interest on Facebook. He appeared on several radio shows and was interviewed by a handful of local media organizations.

Arby’s, of course, jumped in for the organic good will. The brand contacted Hevey, sending T-shirts and sandwich gift cards. The president of Arby’s sent along a thank you to the super fans who braved the cold, reminding them of the other 60 Minneapolis-area Arby’s at which they could redeem those gift cards.

Scroll down for more images from the vigil. But for anyone wishing to sing a mournful song in solidarity, here are the full lyrics of “Arby’s Sign” in the tune of “Danny Boy.”

Oh Arby’s Sign, the meats, the meats are calling

With curly fries and all the tasty sides

The sign is gone and now I will be bawling

‘Tis you ‘tis you, must go and I must bide


But come the back when hunger’s in the belly

Or when the City’s Hushed and white with snow

‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Oh Arby’s Sign, oh Arby’s sign, I love you so


Of you I dream, oh when the night is falling

And then I’m fed, as fed as I may well be

I pray you find the place where I am lying

And kneel and place an Arby’s there for me


And I will know the sixty other metro locations

And so my plate still warm and sweet shall be

For you shall serve and show me that you love me

And I will eat in peace, oh Arby’s come to me


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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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