Chapter 2

The Great Escape

In 1976, Paul left the Charley’s Saloon Group and took a general manager’s position at the Great Escape in Weymouth, Massachusetts. The owners had one location, but were looking to expand. The operation did not have the disciplines and structure of the Charley Saloons, and it served as a restaurant, bar, and night club. This was a great opportunity for Paul. It provided him the chance to implement the controls and disciplines he had learned at the Charley Saloons. With the renewed success of the business, the owners decided to expand the building , itself, rather than take on new locations. They also decided to expand the night club instead of the restaurant. This was not the direction Paul wanted his career to take, but his roots came calling just in time. Paul was contacted by Mr. Sullivan’s partner in the Charley Saloons, Charley Sarkis. Charley had two restaurants of his own under the name J.C. Hillary’s. Paul took over the position of general manager of J.C. Hillary’s in Dedham, Massachusetts.

At about the same time that Paul joined Charley’s organization; Charlie purchased and renovated Wonderland Greyhound Dog Track. The track became very successful and gave Charley the financial resources to start building his restaurant empire. Charley was negotiating the purchase of Red Coach Grill, a dinner house restaurant group owned by Howard Johnsons. Unfortunately, W.R. Grace was also interested in the locations. W.R. Grace was in a much stronger financial position and purchased them to develop El Toritos, a Mexican concept restaurant. Anxious, maybe too anxious, to create the restaurant division, Charley’s Westwood Group bought five restaurants in Florida.