FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio -- The Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce recently presented the owners of Gunselman's Tavern -- John Caine, Scott Eppler, David Grace and Joseph McDonough -- with its 2019 Business of the Year Award.
"The Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize these four Fairview Park High School graduates for their accomplishments raising the bar not only on their delicious award-winning menu and friendly neighborhood service, but also because these guys give back to the community in so many ways," Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce President Mike Aerni said.
Receiving the award was quite surreal to McDonough, who not only grew up on West 215th Street, which is the cross street where Gunselman's Tavern is located, but as a kid he delivered The Plain Dealer to the Lorain Road establishment.
"It was very surprising, we didn't see the Business of the Year award coming," said McDonough, 51, a 1986 Fairview High School graduate, who now calls North Olmsted home. "We didn't know we were nominated. Since day one, we've been trying to give back as much as we received from the community."
It was roughly five years ago when McDonough and his classmates/business partners were searching for a restaurant to buy. That's when the group caught wind a certain hometown bar was for sale.
"We're looking at everywhere but Fairview to buy," McDonough said. "Then my business partner David Grace called me and said, 'I think Gunselman's is for sale.' We were like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' We jumped on it, gave them an offer and they took it. It's really funny because I would say Gunselman's found us more than we found it."
Over the last half decade the iconic Gunselman's Tavern, which dates back to 1936, has once again become a community hotbed with live music, a busy kitchen and popular patio. Not only did it win cleveland.com's 2018 Best Burger, but the establishment started an annual Leprechaun Chase 5K fundraiser for local charity.
"We do everything from birthdays to wakes, fundraisers and class reunions," McDonough said. "We've really gone from having a couple of guys sitting around drinking beers to a waiting list for tables."
As far as being named the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year Award, McDonough said he and his partners are grateful for the honor.
"We were already excited and really happy having purchased Gunselman's Tavern," McDonough said. "This just kind of solidifies the fact that all of those nights we've done fundraisers and rented out the back room were totally worth it.
"With fundraising, you can turn that down and just try to make money, but we've really tried to make sure we were a part of the community rather than just being another establishment in the community. Now being named Business of Year makes us want to do more."