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March 15, 2016

Mary Rowley of Goose Blind Grill & Bar Named 2016 Restaurateur of the Year

MILWAUKEE, WI – Mary Rowley, owner of Goose Blind Grill & Bar, was honored as the Restaurateur of the Year by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. The Restaurateur of the Year is the industry’s top honor and is given to only one restaurant operator each year. Rowley was announced as the winner at the Association’s annual Awards Dinner, held at the Grain Exchange on March 8th in conjunction with the Midwest Foodservice Expo.

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.

Rowley got her start in the restaurant industry during her high school years working at Burger King, Dog ‘n Suds and a fine dining restaurant. In 1985 Rowley purchased the Goose Blind on property that once housed a historic hotel and then a tavern. She has since expanded both the menu and the operation to include live music and private parties. The restaurant is popular with locals and tourists who appreciate the vast selection of beer, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and Wisconsin classics like Friday fish fry – all served in a lively and fun environment. In fact the restaurant’s tagline is “Where the Fun Begins and Never Ends!”

Rowley has been involved with the WRA Big Four Chapter since the early 1990’s and held several positions on the chapter board including Treasurer, Vice President and President. She was named the Chapter Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year in 1996.

Always an active advocate for the restaurant industry, Rowley has traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the Wisconsin delegation for the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference. She understands the power of grassroots action at the local, state and national level.

A WRA member since 1986, Rowley served a 10 year term on the WRA Board of Directors and was Chairman of the board from 2011 to 2012. She remains an active participant at board meetings and WRA events. During her time as chairman, she was an agent of change who was not afraid to ask the tough questions. Perhaps her proudest legacy as chairman is leading a very successful membership drive that revitalized the board’s own involvement in recruiting new WRA members.

Rowley has been a volunteer with local groups like the Green Lake Chamber of Commerce, Green Lake County Visitor’s Bureau and Downtown Green Lake Renewal Project. She has also volunteered for non-profits like Girls on The Run and has taught Sunday school at her church.

She has much to be proud of – overseeing a successful business as a single mom with four kids (now grown), Jonathan, Nicholas, Samantha and Mitchell who all worked along their mom’s side at the restaurant during their formative years.

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