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Dave Grundy: Not Afraid Of Work

By Peek Hames – Article originally featured in the Voice’s 2012 Founder’s Day Review

Dave Grundy was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania near Pittsburg. It was at an early age he learned that hard work would lead to success. At the age of twelve he had two paper routes with his brother. One was a six day a week route and the second one only on Sundays. He remembers pulling a red wagon stacked high with the newspapers. He worked the route for four years and also found time to shovel snow and cut grass.

“I liked having money in my pocket,” he said. “Many Saturdays my mother wouldn’t see me from daylight to dark.”

After high school in New Castle, where he played recreational baseball and basketball, He went to work for Merle Cross in the roofing business and rebuilding chimneys. After four years he took over the business and in 1987 he was looking for a change of life and came to Florida. He is grateful that his former partner, Merle Cross and wife Linda, were living in Moss Bluff and offered him a place to stay. He decided quickly that he didn’t want to get back in the roofing business in Florida because of the heat. With only $300.00 in his pocket, he earned money by buying corn and carrots at Zellwood and selling them by the roadside.

Remembering that his grandfather had a restaurant and bar during the depression and that he did pretty well, he consulted with Merle and Linda about opening a breakfast and lunch restaurant on the hill up by Publix and specializing selling Coney Island hotdogs. The hot dog deal never took off and after one year he bought Merle and Linda out and continued to operate his Plaza Lunch restaurant there for six years. Dave did the cooking as well as running the everyday business. “I knew if I kept working hard that I would make it”, he said. But he had to get bigger to survive. “Pic n Save” was in the shopping center where Kent Furniture is now and Dave knew that would be a draw for his restaurant, so he moved his business to one end of the center. The move provided a larger and more spacious environment for his customers. Things were going well for three years and then “Pic n Save” moved out. “Oh Boy, here we go!” Dave thought as he was the only one left in the center.

Dave kept working hard providing good meals at a reasonable price and this May will be 25 years of his successful people friendly restaurant. With breakfast and lunch specials along with The Plaza Lunch’s Friday night fish dinners make it one of the more popular restaurants in this area. He also gives back to the community each Christmas by providing a free Christmas dinner party for his customers and Santa comes to present toys to the kids. Last Christmas he provided for 400 people at the popular restaurant.

Dave’s father in law, Larry Gross, asked him in 1999 if he was interested in buying a car business at Baseline and S.E Hames Rd. Some friends told Dave, “Don’t get in the used car business.” Dave thought about his dad working for American Motors and later having a used car business. “He did pretty good.” Dave said, “So I thought, why not?” Again hard work and by treating people right he was able to reach a goal in two months that he originally thought would take six. “I’m lucky that I have two businesses that I love, Grundy Auto Sales and Plaza Lunch, and am able to enjoy working. It was all possible because Merle and Linda Cross believed in me and helped me get started. For them I am forever thankful.”

Dave has two daughters, Sumer Grundy and Amber Fried. Sumer lives in Pennsylvania and visited in the summers. Amber grew up in the restaurant business with Dave, busing tables and washing dishes after school. She also washed cars at the car lot. She attended FSU and is now married and lives in Tallahassee.

When Dave isn’t working, he and his wife Lora, enjoy the beach, shopping and hanging together. “I truly love my wife” said Dave, “ without her I don’t know where I would have ended up.”

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