Underpass Lounge owner no stranger to challenges
Underpass Lounge Owner Dave Guerin shows a picture on his phone to his parents Bruce and Diane and some of their friends. The Underpass Lounge held an Octoberfest celebration Sunday during the Bears game. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 12, 2012 10:36AM
FRANKLIN PARK — When Dave Guerin first opened the Underpass Lounge, 9400 Grand Avenue, it wasn’t easy.
The driveways to the parking lot were gone due to construction of the Grand Avenue underpass a bit to the east.
“It was a long year,” Guerin said with a laugh. “We had to have flares — like a runway of lights — to let people know we were open.”
Guerin, however, is no stranger to challenges in business. He opened his first business at age 20 with $2,000.
Guerin was raised in River Grove, where he now owns a house. He attended River Grove Elementary, East Leyden High School and has completed restaurant certifications at Triton College.
Throughout high school he worked at a Cock Robin restaurants in River Grove along Des Plaines River Road. Another of the chain’s restaurants located at 14th and Lake Street in Melrose Park had closed. One day in 1998 Guerin met the owner of the property.
“I spoke about wanting to open it up,” Guerin said. “He called me back and said he’d finance the property.”
Even with the owner financing, costs were tight.
“We couldn’t get a loan,” Guerin said. “My partner and I were working 80 hours a week, there from open to close. We were there by ourselves and lived (with our parents). We slowly fixed the place up.”
After a year the business did well enough where the partners could afford to hire employees. The business continued until 2005, when the partners sold it to West Lake Hospital, which converted the property into a parking lot.
Guerin next opened up Buddy’s Pizza in Franklin Park with three partners. They ran it for three years then sold it. Guerin worked as a property manager for six months then heard a space down the road that has held an Italian eatery was available. Underpass Lounge was named after the road project down the Avenue.
To bring in customers Guerin has thought up various promotions. Tuesday is $1 taco day, Wednesday is trivia night with cash prizes, on Sundays customers get free food during the Bears games as long as they buy a drink.
Space is also available for various fundraisers. In the next couple months fundraisers are scheduled for early onset Parkinson’s disease and East Leyden High School hockey.