Raleigh lost a well-known piece of commercial kitsch on Wednesday with the dismantling of a giant cowboy hat proclaiming that “Arby’s Roast Beef is delicious.”
The sign, its letters lit up in yellow and white at night, stood for decades in front of the Arby’s fast-food restaurant on Hillsborough Street, between N.C. State University’s main campus and Meredith College.
The restaurant is now closed.
It took less than a day Wednesday for workers to cut the giant hat apart and load the pieces on to trailers bound for a scrap yard.
It’s another blow for those who worry Raleigh is losing places that give it character. Last week, developers announced plans to demolish the original Char-Grill burger stand downtown, a few blocks from the round Holiday Inn, which also may come down soon.
Pieces of Hillsborough Street history
Also gone from Hillsborough Street in recent years: Sadlack’s Heroes, East Village Bar and Grill, The Alley bowling lanes and an original International House of Pancakes.
The first Arby’s opened in Ohio in 1964, and the ten-gallon hat signs were standard on its restaurants in the 1960s and 1970s. The buildings themselves were shaped like Conestoga wagons, finished in wood and stone.
The old Arby’s on Hillsborough Street was razed in 1998, replaced by a boxy modern version with a drive-thru window. But the sign survived.
Four years earlier, the City Council had designated the sign a landmark, exempt from the city’s strict sign ordinance. To qualify as a landmark sign, it had to be more than 20 years old and add some historical character to the city’s streets.
The designation was not the same as declaring it a Raleigh historic landmark, which would have prevented it from being demolished.
This story was originally published July 6, 2022 6:54 PM.
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