Charleys Philly Cheese Steaks



With nearly 600 locations across 46 states and 17 countries, Charleys Philly Steaks is one of the largest Philly Cheesesteak concepts in the country. Since their first space opened in 1986 near Ohio State University, they’ve rapidly expanded and can be found in university food courts, retail shopping centers and airports worldwide. While successful and still enjoying growth, Charleys tasked Boxman Studios with creating a space that would allow them to expand their street presence as a stand-alone restaurant.


Boxman worked closely with the Philly cheesesteak connoisseur to transform shipping container-like building components into a restaurant space that maintained the brand’s college-town heritage and loyalist fan following. While shipping container construction afforded Charleys lower construction costs, tax benefits and faster time to market, it also provided design flexibility that would allow them to adapt their typical restaurant design to a smaller footprint while preserving the unique Charleys look. Additional benefits? The ability to serve menu favorites and the ability to move locations, if necessary.

While Charleys’ construction team was focused on site preparation near its headquarters in Ohio, Boxman Studios’ priority was the construction path, all happening under the protective roof of our 70,000-square-foot enclosed, conditioned manufacturing facility in North Carolina: collaborative design with Charleys; building out the unit with no weather delays; and, managing inspections on our site with state-contracted inspectors. As a modular unit being constructed in North Carolina, inspections are managed by the state rather than local municipalities, with approvals from engineer drawings to electrical happening at our manufacturing site and with less time than would have been required for local approvals.

Key to the project was preserving the restaurant’s essence and ability to serve large crowds while transitioning from the big, open space of mall ways to a more compact, efficient structure. Through a philosophy of purpose-built construction, Boxman maximized on square footage through details such as commercial kitchen equipment choices and equipment placement; every piece was intentional, and every millimeter considered.

With logistics planned by our in-house logistics team and the world’s first stand-alone Charleys store on one of our rigs and ready for transport, our team hit the road. Designed, developed and now deployed, the structure was soon set on its foundation, power and water attached, and doors quick to open.


Restaurant sales at the new location are exceeding sales goals for the company’s shipping container prototype restaurant, and looking to the future, the maker of the #1 Cheesesteak in the World® now has an approved plan and successful launch model that can expedite the build process for future Charleys stand-alone locations. That’s great news for the company, and enough to make our mouths water as we wait for one near us.