CHAMPION - On July 23, 1964, the first Arby's restaurant opened on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman. Headquarters for the soon-to-be national chain opened shortly after on Colonial Drive in Liberty.
Fifty years later, the national chain is opening a remodeled look, which was unveiled Wednesday at the Arby's at 4321 Mahoning Ave. N.W. in Champion. Officials from Trumbull and Mahoning counties, executives from the company and area residents attended.
Paul Brown, chief executive officer with Arby's, said, "We hope to continue to build a few restaurants and certainly remodel a few restaurants here. It is the birthplace of the brand, and some of our oldest restaurants are here. I think it is time to reinvest and hopefully turn it into a great representation of the Arby's brand."
Tribune Chronicle photos / Bob Coupland
Arby’s CEO Paul Brown, right, recognizes Suzanne Dutton of the Austintown Arby’s, left, for her 42 years of service during a 50-year anniversary celebration Wednesday in Champion.
The restaurant's remodeled interior design will be implemented in all company-owned restaurants over the next 10 years.
He recognized five long-time employees for their service in the area: Suzanne Dutton in Austintown for 42 years; Chris Heston of Struthers and Cindy Hergenroder of Alliance, both 34 years; Vicki Vitullo of Struthers, 32 years; and Theresa Mullins of Salem, 28 years.
Brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel started the restaurant chain that featured roast-beef sandwiches. The fast-food chain today has 3,400 locations and 71,000 employees.
"If the public hadn't been so supportive of the brand, then we wouldn't be here today, so we owe a lot to the Mahoning Valley," Brown said.
Jim Pipino, a local Arby's franchise owner in the area for 22 years, said to celebrate the 50th anniversary, at 7 p.m. today at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, 325 W. Federal St. in Youngstown, will be a panel discussion on the history of Arby's with company officials, local historians and authors of books on restaurants. The event will honor Leroy Raffel.
A reunion of former Arby's corporate employees will be held from 5 to 6:30 pm. There will also be a program on Arby's history following the reunion.
Mayor Doug Franklin said he is a lover of the Arby's supersandwich with an apple turnover.
''This is a great 50-year milestone that I am excited to be part of it,'' Franklin said.
Youngstown Mayor John McNally echoed Franklin's comments of his enjoying Arby's roast beef sandwiches and potato cakes.
''It's remarkable for the Mahoning Valley that Arby's started right here 50 years ago this very day,'' McNally said.
Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda, who presented a proclamation, recalled in 1964 he was working and attending college and would often for a $1.49 get two roast beef sandwiches and fries.
''That Arby's was the first nationally franchised coast-to-coast sandwich chain is truly an amazing accomplishment,'' Fuda said.
Local Arby's Restaurants will host a buy-one-get-one offer through Friday during which Arby's will donate a meal to Second Harvest Food Bank in Mahoning Valley for every meal purchased through the week. Ten percent of the sales on Wednesday were also donated to Second Harvest Food Bank
He presented a $15,000 check to Second Harvest Food Bank to help the community that has been a partner for Arby's since its beginnings.