The Char-Grill Story – Great Burgers & More for Over 60 Years

Char-Grill is proud of our history, making our delicious flame-cooked burgers fresh off the grill invokes the same nostalgia today as it did during our inception in 1959. Take a trip down memory lane with Char-Grill, to discover how we have grown from one small cinderblock building to 10 locations in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and surrounding areas.

Bruce Garner, entrepreneur and restaurateur, builds the first Char-Grill on Raleigh’s Hillsborough Street, patterning the restaurant after Raleigh’s first fast-food hamburger grill, The Charcoal Grill. This small cinderblock building on the edge of downtown offers take-out service only, with orders taken on a ticket and prepared before customers’ eyes.

Bruce Garner’s son-in-law takes over the management. Char-Grill becomes a favorite of NC State students as well as downtowners.

Raleigh resident Jackie Watkins leases the building from Dorothy Garner and repaints it a patriotic red, white, and blue.

Atlantic Christian College graduate Mahlon Aycock and student Ryon Wilder decide to partner-up and form a business together. Wilder, whose family has a long history in the restaurant industry looks into opening a drive-through hamburger restaurant.

Aycock and Wilder research the Raleigh area for a suitable location to open a double-lane drive-through, fast food restaurant. Aycock and Wilder stumble across the Char-Grill building. The pair meets with Dorothy Garner (now Vickers) to discuss the building. Vickers has plans to demolish the building and use the land for a parking lot.

Aycock and Wilder negotiate a three-year rental deal with Vickers. On April 15, Aycock and Wilders reopen the Char-Grill at its current site, operating the business with one hired employee – Gary Parsons. The Char-Grill continues the tradition of serving made-to-order, charcoal-grilled hamburger sandwiches.

Aycock and Wilders purchase the building, with a 15-year loan financed by Vickers.

Owners change menu to add a four-ounce hamburger steak sandwich to the eight-ounce sandwich previously offered.

Wilders and Aycock add air conditioning to the small cinderblock building.

Relying on word-of-mouth advertising alone, Char-Grill’s popularity takes off, and the owners decide to open a second Char-Grill restaurant at Olde Raleigh Village shopping center on Edwards Mill Road.

Owners open their third Char-Grill on Atlantic Avenue near the intersection of Millbrook Road.

Wilder and Aycock open fourth Char-Grill on Strickland Road near the intersection of Six Forks Road.

The first Char-Grill franchise location opens at 3635 SW Cary Parkway at the corner of Waldo Rood Road in Cary, NC.