making our delicious flame-cooked burgers fresh off the grill invokes the same nostalgia today as it did during our inception in 1960. Take a trip down memory lane with Char-Grill, to discover how we have grown from one small cinder block building to multiple locations in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Benson, and Clayton.
The Char-Grill Story Great Burgers & More for Over 50 Years
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 cinder block 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.
May 2007 – Char-Grill Cary NC location opens. 1st Franchise Location opens at 3635 SW Cary Parkway at the corner of Waldo Rood Road in Cary, NC.
November 2008 – Char-Grill Durham NC location opens. 2nd Franchise Location
June 2010 – Char-Grill Garner NC location opens. 3rd Franchise Location.
October 2010 – Char-Grill named “Best Burger Joint in the State”—USA Today
March 2011 – Char-Grill Davidson NC location opens. 4th Franchise Location
June 2012 – Char-Grill Benson, NC location opens. 5th Franchise Location. First Drive Thru location.
September 2013 – Char-Grill Clayton, NC location opens. 6th Franchise Location. Second Drive Thru location.
April 2014 – Char-Grill RDU Airport, Raleigh, NC / Terminal A opens. 7th Franchise Location.