Arby’s has been an integral part of our Sandpoint community ever since it opened back in 1987. This restaurant has always held a special place in the heart of Journalism teacher Mark Webber, who used to go there as a kid:
“There’s just this feeling of nostalgia going back in there, like a time machine back to 1984. I do miss the old look before the remodel, but I understand that the solarium leaked and they needed to update the interior. However, I just wish they stayed more retro with the décor.”
Our journalism staff recently visited Arby’s during their ‘Happy Hour’ which is from 2 to 5 PM and offers certain small menu items for $1 each. Lolisa, the supervisor, talked to us about the history of the restaurant and her experience working there. She said she loved meeting all the people who come in, and that it is a pleasure working for Pierre and Denise Huguenin, the owners. Denise was kind enough to take time out of her vacation and answer a few of my questions:
Leah: “Why did you decide to buy this restaurant?”
Denise: “We had a restaurant called RAX from 1991 to 1994 in the same location. RAX, as a national franchise company, was failing nationwide and we felt it was time to make a change. Arby’s was expanding its franchise locations at the time, so it was a logical move to buy an Arby’s franchise. We opened Arby’s in July, 1994.”
Leah: “How are you connected to Lost in the 50’s?”
Denise: “We love Lost in the 50’s! Carolyn Gleason is a good friend and we are happy to support her in any way we can. We started “Locals Nite” about 10 years ago to give our local car club, The Injectors, the opportunity to show off their cars before the 50’s car show. It has become a tradition between Arby’s and The Injectors and a kickoff for the 50’s activities.”
Leah: “Why did you decide to remodel?”
Denise: “We remodeled Arby’s because our license as an Arby’s franchisee was expiring after 23 years and Arby’s wanted us to update our building inside and out in order to continue as an Arby’s franchise for the next 20 years. We are very excited about the changes in the building…it’s great to have a fresh, new look!”
Leah: “What is your favorite part about owning Arby’s?”
Denise: “My favorite part about owning Arby’s is working with so many wonderful people in our community…our guests, our suppliers and most of all our crew members!
Our manager, Stacy Johnson has been with me at Arby’s for 20 years…her Mom, Alena Zantow, worked with me for 23 years before she retired last year. I love teaching young people how to be responsible employees. My philosophy for young workers is…if you can succeed at Arby’s, you will succeed at any career you pursue! It’s all about the people!”
Leah: “Which sandwich would you personally recommend to someone who has never eaten at Arby’s?”
Denise: “That’s a difficult question! I personally like every one of our sandwiches! I’d say our two signature sandwiches are the Classic…simply roast beef on a sesame seed bun, or the Beef and Cheddar…roast beef, cheese sauce, red ranch sauce on an onion bun.”
Our Arby’s is a family owned and operated restaurant that provides jobs for many local high school students, including 3 of our very own Forrest Bird High School students. If you haven’t been into Arby’s in a while head on down during Happy Hour and see the new remodel!
All Photos by Kai Eagley