It isn’t often that you meet a guy who can tell you about driving the ice roads of Alaska just after he’s told you about his professional boxing career, all while grilling you a steak to perfection. Then again, it isn’t often that you have a chance to experience a place like the St. Joe Pub and Grill in Avery, Idaho.
Located 48 miles from St. Maries, Avery is a small town known for its hardworking men and women.
And Tommy Gray fits right in.
Tommy and his 20-year-old son Brandon moved back to the area from Alaska to be closer to family and to simplify. So they, and business partner Tim Flynn, purchased the St. Joe Pub and Grill, formerly the Avery Trading Post.
Not everyone would think running a restaurant and bunk house a simple task, but this outdoorsman does.
“It’s about quality of life,” Tommy explains. “When you start your day on a four wheeler or hunting, you’re right there, right in it. I’ve never been happier.”
And Tommy has experienced a lot of happy in his 54 years.
Throughout his life, Tommy spent decades driving and owning trucks. He’s driven log truck and done long-hauling. He ran all lower 48 states and Canada and covered a route from Washington state to Boston for years.
He also boxed as both an amateur and professional, earning a record of 90-10 as an amateur before turning pro in 1980 where he won nine fights and lost only two.
Most recently, he worked in Alaska and appeared on The History Channel’s Ice Road Trucker series.
He smiles a bit and shrugs when he remembers those years. “Sure, I won Golden Gloves a couple times as an amateur,” he remembers. “And was named to an Army boxing team in Europe in 1975 and 1977.”
But it’s the work he’s doing now, with his son, that seems to bring him the most joy.
And the cooking and tending to the restaurant are things Tommy is finding he really, really likes.
“Now that I’m older – after I’ve spent my life as a logger, a trucker, a fighter – I’ve realized how important those things are,” he says.
Part storyteller, part chef, part celebrity, all effort – Tommy runs his new venture the same way he’s run his life, with passion.