Mar 11, 2020

Charlie Gray Owner of Culver’s Restaurants in Wausau Named 2020 Restaurateur of the Year


MILWAUKEE, WI – Charlie Gray, owner and operator of two Culver’s locations in the greater Wausau metro area, was honored as the Restaurateur of the Year by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. The Restaurateur of the Year (ROY) award is the industry’s top honor. Gray was announced as the winner at the Association’s annual Awards Gala, held at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee on March 10th in conjunction with the 2020 Midwest Foodservice Expo.

Charlie Gray owns and operates two Culver’s Restaurants in the Wausau metro area with his wife Torri.  The Restaurateur of the Year award is given to an operator who demonstrates participation and service to the restaurant association, success within their own restaurant and contributions to their community. The winner is selected at a private meeting of past Restaurateur of the Year recipients and is kept a secret until the official announcement at the Awards Dinner.

Gray’s family was in the soft drink bottling business so he grew up sorting bottles, loading trucks and later getting his own delivery route.  He graduated from UW Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in business and worked for G. Heileman Brewing Co. as a field sales rep and as a sales manager for Central Beer Distributors.  In 1996, Charlie and his wife Torri opened their first Culver’s.  They opened a second location in 2002.  

Gray has been an active supporter of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association for many years having been active in the Wisconsin River Valley chapter, acting as a PAC Trustee and serving on WRA’s board of directors. He is proud to be the first franchisee to serve as Chairman of the WRA Board.  Gray is passionate about representing the restaurant industry to government leaders and has been an active advocate at the state and national level.  He also continues to educate the next generation of restaurateurs on the importance of involvement in their industry.

Gray is very involved in his community and has served as Director of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce.  

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Since 1933, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has been dedicated to the success of the foodservice and hospitality industry.