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How Charley's Grilled Subs Sandwiched Its Way to Franchise Success The backstory on Charley Shin's remake of a Philly tradition.

By Jason Daley

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A claim to steak: Charley Shin redid a philly tradition.
A claim to steak: Charley Shin redid a philly tradition.
Photo© Tom Mckenzie

Charley Shin is lucky his family isn't good with maps. While visiting relatives in New York City in the mid-1980s, the Shin family got turned around and ended up in Philadelphia. Instead of stopping for directions, Shin, then a junior at Ohio State University, stopped for a legendary Philly cheesesteak, and an obsession took hold.

Soon after, he convinced his mother to sell her restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, and lend him her life savings to open a 450-square-foot cheesesteak shop across the street from campus.

"I really like traditional Philly cheesesteaks, but I didn't think it was going to fly in Columbus," he says, pointing out that Cheez Whiz and piles of meat warming on greasy grills were a turnoff to college students. Instead, he began experimenting with recipes and plying his friends with cooked-to-order steak topped with provolone, grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms. When he perfected his sandwich, Charley's Grilled Subs was born.

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