YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — One of the founders of Arby’s has died. The restaurant chain announced the death of Leroy Raffel, 96, on its Facebook page Thursday.
While details regarding Raffel’s death weren’t immediately available, an obituary for the Ohio native says he passed away peacefully at his home.
Raffel was an active member in the Jewish community, according to his obituary, and his family has asked for contributions in memory of him to be made to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. In a statement Thursday, Arby’s President Jim Taylor said the restaurant chain will make a donation to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation in Leroy’s name.
Leroy and his brother, Forrest, founded Arby’s in 1964. The “RB” in the name is a nod to the Raffel brothers. Forrest died in 2008, according to WFMJ.
The first restaurant actually opened along US-224 in Boardman, Ohio. It had 10 seats and only about 20 parking spots outside. The restaurant was different from others at the time: it served only roast beef sandwiches instead of the ubiquitous hamburger. The idea caught on, however, and the business quickly expanded with a number of chains throughout the U.S.
The Raffel brothers were from New Castle, Pennsylvania, where their father owned a hotel and restaurant with a bar.
Leroy visited the area in 2014 to reunite with some of his former employees and reminisce about the first Arby’s.
At the time, Leroy told WYTV that he hoped that they would remember their original concept, which was “high quality, take good care of customers” and “treat everybody nice.”