Where Are They Now? - May 2015

Learn what your favorite retired faculty members are up to.

Where Are They Now? provides an update on a few of RIT's best known and most beloved faculty and staff retirees. You may be surprised to find out what they've been doing since they left campus!

If you have a favorite retired faculty or staff person you’d like to hear about, let us know! We’ll track them down where ever they are and update you in the next Tiger’s Tale. Email us to tell us who you’re interested in.

This month we feature faculty member Warren Sackler from the College of Applied Science and Technology, who has recently retired in Florida.


Warren Sackler — Professor from the College of Applied Science and Technology
Two weeks after I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale to begin my retirement, I had a meeting with Mr. Steve Kamelhair, an owner of 13 Original Pancake Houses in Florida. He was looking for an investor – someone interested in selling franchises for a burger concept, and we would be the franchisor of the concept for all of the United States. I was interested. It's a small world, because the person who gave me the heads-up on this opportunity is Gary Ostrow ’85, an RIT hotel restaurant alumnus that I have stayed in contact with for some time.

Keeping with the “small world” theme, I had been in the restaurant business in Florida with Jeff Zadoff ’92, another RIT alum from Boca Raton. We had three restaurants in Town Center Mall in Boca for three years before I retired. We were running a franchise burger joint in the mall called Flamers and we were going to change over the concept when the lease expired. We had decided on a Nathan's Hot Dog stand, but negotiated to allow us to serve our own hamburgers along with their hot dogs. Jeff suggested we get the best name in burgers in south Florida, a Char-Hut burger. We used those burgers till we vacated the mall when they remodeled.

That’s when I met Steve to discuss being an investor in his burger concept. He said the concept was to franchise Char-Huts – it had to be fate! I consulted with a lot of people about the opportunity, but I was very close friends with Phil Gelsimino ’86, a Saunders College alumnus in Rochester who was in the franchise business running Perkins Restaurants with Bud Rusitzky ’56, ’91, a board member at RIT. Phil is now an adjunct in Saunders College, and I asked him to look over the deal. He declared it good.

Steve and I agreed to develop the franchise. For 18 months we came up with the franchise documents that you need to file with all the states – roughly 180 pages of legal lingo. We hired an interior designer, equipment dealer, construction person, realtor, and we started. We than decided we had to have a corporate store, so we found a location and opened the store November 3, 2014. We opened our first franchisee location December 9, 2014, and are in discussions with a number of groups to open another 10 to 15 in south Florida. I looked for investors for our corporate store and recruited Roy Welch ’86, a hotel and resort management alumnus who lives in Rochester. His name is Roy Welsh. He is very happy to be involved in the venture. Also for the first franchisee store, we hired Gary Ostrow to be acting general manager between jobs. And, I was able to reach out to some alums from the Saunders College that developed an app for employee scheduling called Shift Alertz. The system is great and we hope to have all franchisees use it.

If any alums have products or services for the industry, we would be more than glad to test them out. I am also looking to hire former students looking for management jobs here in South Florida. My current title is Director Franchise Management. I get the stores opened and running for right now and then turn them over to the franchisees.

Anyone interested in the opportunity should contact me at:
Char-Hut Franchising, LLC
2240 S.W. 70th Avenue, Suite D
Davie, Florida 33317
Cell (preferred) 585.202.8260
Office 954.332.7140

See the Char-Hut menu »