A realtor sign placed at the former location of Shore Distributors indicating the property had been sold with another sign asking, “Curly Fries?” caused significant excitement in Milford. Since the fast-food chain, Arby’s, is known for their spiced curly fries, speculation was that Arby’s would be returning to Milford after a location on the north end of town closed many years ago.
“We have meetings scheduled with Arby’s to review an entrance and exit plan on the east side of Route 113 and the west side of North Walnut Street,” Louise Holt, Public Information Officer for DelDOT said. “As long as the entrances and exits do not interfere with traffic and are safe for both pedestrians and drivers, we would have no objection to them going into that location.”
Shore Distributors opened in 1946 in Salisbury, founded by John E. Morris a mechanical contractor from Baltimore who struggled to find the supplies he needed for his business. He opened a plumbing, heating and electrical supply store in downtown Salisbury and the company grew to become the oldest locally owned distributor on Delmarva. The Milford location closed in March 2021.
Arby’s opened a restaurant in Milford at 697 North Dupont Boulevard, but the location did not work out and they closed several years ago. The location is now a Popeye’s.
Founded in Boardman, Ohio, by Leroy and Forrest Raffel, brothers who named the restaurant after their initials “RB.” The brothers, noticing the success Ray Kroc had in building the McDonald’s chain just ten years earlier, wanted to get into the fast-food franchise industry but wanted to separate from the standard burgers and fries menu.
The first Arby’s opened in 1964, offering slow-cooked roast beef sandwiches, calling themselves “R-B’s” initially. By 1967, there were more than 100 R-B stores whose menu focused on roast beef and extra-large iced tea. When the company attempted to go public, they did so on April 24, a day that the market collapsed. They pulled the stock options and were left without the cash they needed for planned expansion. Banks swept in to protect investment, fired most of the employees at the corporate headquarters and slashed franchisee services.
Five months later, the Raffel Brothers gained control of the company and, after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, spent the next few years restoring profitability. By 1975, there were nearly 500 restaurants throughout the country. The brothers then merged with Royal Crown Cola, although they retained control of what was then known as Arby’s. The Raffel’s retired in 1980 and the company once again fell into decline. In 1984, the DWG Corporation purchased Royal Crown and Leonard Roberts took over as Chief Executive of Arby’s.
Roberts scaled back the menu, removing items that could be purchased at any fast-food restaurant and returned the focus to roast beef, using the same recipe created by the Raffel’s. Arby’s then added deli-style sandwiches and roasted chicken.
“The Milford Arby’s is planned to open in January 2022,” Anna Nelson of Arby’s said. “As of now, this is all the information we are able to provide at this time.”
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