Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Sax, Harry A., 1939-


Harry Sax was born May 01, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, the son to first generation American Jews. He spent his childhood on Chicago's Southside, where his family belonged to a progressive Reform congregation. After graduating from Hyde Park High School, he continued his education at Indiana University. In college, Sax was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau Jewish fraternity, participated in a singing group, and was a cadet in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

Upon graduating from college, Sax was stationed in Munich, Germany as a second lieutenant in the Quartermasters Corps. In addition to his required military duties, he also participated in an after-hours acting group; through this group, he was hired as an extra and for small roles, including “The Great Escape.”

When he finished his service, Sax returned to Chicago, where he connected with a high school friend, Mike Schulson. The two became partners and purchased Arby's franchises in Chicago and Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1968, while his partner remained in Chicago, Sax moved to Las Vegas and opened two franchise locations in two weeks. Though it took a few years to stabilize the business and overcome competition, he opened a third location in 1972 on South Decatur Boulevard, what was then the western edge of the city. Today, Sax has nineteen locations in Las Vegas, with additional franchises in Reno, Nevada and Barstow, California, and employs nearly 300 people.

After about twenty years as a "closeted Jew" in Las Vegas, Sax reconnected with Judaism and joined Congregation Ner Tamid in the late 1990s. He served on its board, eventually becoming vice president and then president during 2007-2009. He also dedicated himself to have a bar mitzvah, following up on his Jewish education and confirmation as a teenager. Sax has also served on the Anti-Defamation League's board as well as an active member of the Chamber of Commerce.