(Mar. 12/14) The restaurant industry lost a dedicated leader and good friend with the passing of former CRFA President Oscar Grubert on Feb. 11, 2014. The following information was provided by his family:
Oscar began his career in the foodservice industry with a few friends when they opened up a drive-in restaurant on North Main Street in Winnipeg in 1957. In 1958, he wrote to Colonel Harland Sanders about Kentucky Fried Chicken. A few months later, the Colonel showed up unannounced at Oscar’s office. Oscar went to see the only KFC outlet in Western Canada, fell in love with the Colonel’s business formula, and became a KFC franchisee after a handshake on the Winnipeg airport tarmac. Over 25 years, he and his partner built up their territory to more than 20 Champs KFC restaurants. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Oscar’s creativity drove development of restaurants and bars that spanned quick-service to white-tablecloth dining, such as Kamps, Grubees, The Butcher Block, Garden Creperie, G. Willikers, Mamma Trossi’s, Koko’s, Thomas Button’s, The Rec Room, Mother Tucker’s and the Palomino Club. In 1970, Oscar became President of CRFA (now Restaurants Canada) and travelled the country to represent industry interests to all levels of government.
Throughout his life, Oscar cared less about his own success and more about how he could use his accomplishments to make a positive difference in the lives of others. This passion was evident in his commitment to philanthropy and the people he worked with. He gave so many people a hand up. He put thousands of youth through school and provided a respectable livelihood to countless more. He treated each and every one of them with a measure of respect and appreciation, because he understood that fundamentally they were responsible for his success.