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Arby's comes home to mark 50th

Published: Thu, July 24, 2014 @ 12:15 a.m.


Paul Brown, chief executive officer of Arby’s, speaks at the fast-food chain’s 50th anniversary celebration in Champion. He spoke Wednesday about the Mahoning Valley’s impact on the global brand that started in Boardman on July 23, 1964.




Two men had a vision to bring roast beef sandwiches to the Mahoning Valley 50 years ago. That vision turned into the global fast food chain we know as Arby’s.

On Wednesday, the vision, the reality and the future of the company were celebrated to mark Arby’s half-century of providing roast beef sandwiches, shakes and smiles to customers.

“If [Valley residents] hadn’t been so supportive of the brand then, we wouldn’t be here today, so we owe a lot to the Mahoning Valley,” said Paul Brown, chief executive officer of Arby’s.

The celebration took place at the recently remodeled Arby’s at 4321 Mahoning Ave. NW in Champion.

But Arby’s first location fon U.S. Route 224 in Boardman on July 23, 1964, by brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel of New Castle, Pa.

The two first decided to call the restaurant “Big Tex” but realized another restaurant in Akron had that name so they went with Arby’s to stand for Raffel brothers or R.B. By 1967, there were 150 Arby’s locations. The chain has since grown to nearly 3,400 restaurants worldwide. Now the company is focused on growing and has a new campaign to help it do so.

“Our dream is to have significantly more than we have now,” Brown said.

An important piece to making that dream happen is having the team members necessary for growth. A total of 22 Arby’s restaurants operate in the Mahoning Valley, with more than 500 employees.

Six of the team members were honored at the event for their years of service. They included Theresa Mullins for 28 years of service; Cindy Hergenroder, 34 years; Susanne Dutton, 42 years; Chris Heston, 34 years; Terri Jones, 33 years, and Vicki Vitullo, 30 years.

Dutton began her tenure with the company as a part-time employee while attending school. She never thought she’d be with the company 42 years.

“It’s just been perfect for me,” Dutton said. “They are a really good company to work for.”

Also at the event, The

Arby’s Foundation presented a $15,000 check to Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

“With this generous gift we will be able to provide 90,000 meals across the Valley,” said Steve Horger, president of Second Harvest’s board of directors.

Three fans of Arby’s — Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda — expressed their thanks and saluted the company on its anniversary.

“It says something about the Mahoning Valley,” Brown said of the public support. “Maybe one reason a global brand started here is because of the [public] support of the business community.”

Arby’s announced a nationwide brand-revitalization initiative in June. The revitalization includes a new building image, team member retraining program and franchisee financing solutions. Arby’s plans to remodel at least 30 company-owned restaurants to the new image this year in key markets, including Youngstown; Huntsville, Ala.; Indianapolis and Salt Lake City. The company plans to significantly expand the number of remodels in 2015.

Five Valley Arby’s are to be remodeled by the end of this year.


1handymandave(578 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Much better beef sandwiches when they were made years ago with actual beef instead of what appears to be a mix of kangaroo and horse.

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2grand4dad(218 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Agree with you Dave. The sandwiches I remember were terrific and tasted like the ones my mother would make from left over roast beef dinners. Now it's just that chopped and compressed stuff that tastes like nothing. Used to love Arby's but unfortunately quality has gone downhill. Can't stand to eat there anymore.

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3WilliamP(70 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

A nice story about a successful Valley company, and 2 of the first 3 people to comment go negative. Only in Youngstown.

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4topsailwatch(79 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Just publish something positive about Youngstown and the naysayers come out of the woodwork.

I venture to say that these people never lifted a finger to do something positive for Youngstown.

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5valleypoboy(224 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The valley supported them but clearly they chose not to support the valley. Some big company from Atlanta wants a feel good moment. What's to celebrate here?

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6walter_sobchak(2674 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I remember distinctly as a little bot when they built the first Arby's on 224 as my mom cleaned a nearby building in the evenings. The commercial building they tore down on the site had an outside pop vending machine with the bottles horizontal in the old pull slots. Sometimes I went with her and she would give me a nickel for a bottle of Golden Age Cherry or Grape. I was mad when it went away. Amazing how it seems like yesterday. But, like many things in Y-town, it started here and but left town to make it big. I'm glad corporate came back but it would have been nice to do it on 224 even if the original building sells bird seed and feeders.

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7michael1757(489 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Does Arbys really stand for,"Arbys Roast Beef Youngstown Store"?

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8joebag09(352 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Started in Boardman on 224, but they couldn't celebrate it there? Why?

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9paulydel(1598 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I love Arby's Ruben Sandwich. I'm glad they are still in business. Happy Anniversary Arby's.

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