Arby's co-founder reminisces about the beginning
Leroy Raffel said it all started when he and his brother, Forrest, thought that their Youngstown restaurant equipment business was in jeopardy with the dawning of fast food places. So in 1964, the Raffel Brothers, or R-B, opened Arby's in Boardman and sold roast beef sandwiches.
"On the day we opened, the McDonald's hamburger was 15 cents and our sandwich was 69 cents. So, you had to be a little more affluent to buy our sandwich," said Raffel.
There was no French Dip or Beef and Cheddar, just one kind of roast beef sandwich, with a bun that was designed by Schwebel's.
"It was an egg bun with dimples on the top and sesame seeds and we buttered it and toasted it," said Raffel.
In 1976, the Raffel Brothers sold the Arby's chain, which at that point had 400 restaurants, to the Royal Crown Cola Company.
"Because of what happened to us on Wall Street, not because our stores weren't profitable," explained Raffel.
But before that happened, as the Arby's franchise was growing, Raffel credits the people of the valley who got the restaurants that followed up and running, "The people that we had here in Youngstown, that was a very important factor in the success of our company."