ShareThis Page
Valley News Dispatch

No. 1 change at Natrona Heights Arby's: Bathrooms moving indoors

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, 2:27 p.m.
Most of the Arby’s along Freeport Road in the Natrona Heights section of Harrison has been torn down to make way for a new building, which franchise owner Jim Noble said will feature bathrooms accessed from inside the restaurant. Noble said construction will start next week, and the restaurant will reopen by the end of August.
Most of the Arby’s along Freeport Road in the Natrona Heights section of Harrison has been torn down to make way for a new building, which franchise owner Jim Noble said will feature bathrooms accessed from inside the restaurant. Noble said construction will start next week, and the restaurant will reopen by the end of August.

When Arby’s reopens in Harrison, the big news won’t be the return of beef ‘n cheddars and curly fries — it’s going to be the bathrooms.

Getting to the bathrooms there meant going outside and around to the back of the building. With the new building, they’ll be inside.

“It was extremely challenging to get the bathrooms inside the building,” franchise owner Jim Noble said. “That was our biggest challenge.”

But, he said, “we had inconvenienced customers so much with the bathrooms being outside, it was past time to get it taken care of and fix that problem.”

Noble expects the restaurant on Freeport Road in Natrona Heights to reopen by the end of the month .

Noble said his family has owned the restaurant for 50 years. They also own an Arby’s in Johnstown.

Arby’s has 3,415 restaurants worldwide. Of those, most — 2,340 — are franchise-owned, while 1,075 are company-owned.

Noble said the Natrona Heights location was probably among the first 100 built.

Having the bathrooms accessed from outside was by design.

“All of the original Arby’s were built the same,” he said. “There were no drive-thrus at that time. The franchises were relatively young and there were not very many of them. The business model wasn’t very developed.”

The building had been remodeled three other times in its five decades, including bumping out the front to get more seating. This time, about 75 percent of the building has been demolished, leaving only the kitchen standing.

Noble said the new building will be quite different and much more modern looking, but will be about the same size with the same amount of seating.

“It’s going to be worlds apart,” he said.

While based on a current Arby’s model, Noble said he had to get custom plans drawn up, because the new Arby’s buildings are wider and would not fit on the space he has available.

Noble is doing much more work than he originally planned on, and more of the building ended up getting torn down.

“Once we started peeling back parts of the building, it became apparent we needed to rethink the project and go deeper,” he said. “The building codes 50 years ago were not the way the codes are now. For us to try to get things up to the current code, we had to do much more extensive work than we thought.”

Noble wouldn’t comment on what his original plans were.

Based on the original plans submitted to the township, the initial plan was to wall-in the “four seasons room” — the glass area at the front of the former building — and to enclose the sidewalk along its side, making it an interior hallway to get back to the bathrooms, said Lindsay Fraser, Harrison’s zoning and ordinance officer. The kitchen and bathrooms would also be reconfigured slightly.

“There were some structural deficiencies that came to light as the renovation got started,” she said. “It required taking a different path and more demolition of the existing structure than anticipated.”

Noble said the restaurant’s employees will be brought back and are being paid through the down time.

Noble said construction will start next week, and walls will be going up quickly.

“It will be fun to watch,” he said.

He wanted to thank customers for being patient.

“We’re looking forward to serving everybody when we get up and running,” he said. “We’re looking forward to opening the new building so our customers can enjoy the nicer atmosphere, the more comfortable atmosphere, and enjoy our indoor restrooms.”

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me