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Gradkowski teaming up with Gateway project

By Jason Mack
On February 24, 2011

Former University of Toledo star quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is coming home to partner with Arnie's to open a sports bar called "Gradkowski's" as part of UT's Gateway project.

"I consider Toledo home for me, so I'm excited to come back and try to give back to the university and help out any way I can," Gradkowski said. "I want to be part of it for years to come. I'm not looking to make this a one or two-year thing. I want to make it known for years to come, just like how Arnie's has been around. I have so much respect for how long they've been around, their 30-year history and what they've been for the town of Toledo."

The UT Foundation and Fairmount Properties are teaming up for a $12 million, 26,000 square-foot retail development located at the intersection of Secor and Dorr.

Gradkowski's is the second confirmed business after Barnes and Noble, which will move out of the Student Union Building and into a two-story, 6,000 square foot building.

"The Gateway project, they've done a great job with the people that are going to get into the complex," Gradkowski said. "It's going to be an all-around great project for the university and for the community. It will be a great place that people of all different ages can enjoy."

Gradkowski has been in the NFL since he was drafted in 2006 and currently plays for the Oakland Raiders. He was placed on injured reserve last December with a third-degree separation of his throwing shoulder, but he has already recovered.

"I'm back to 100 percent, throwing, lifting and running," Gradkowski said. "I'm just getting ready to get this next season underway and see what's in store."

With a labor strike potentially looming in the NFL, Gradkowski is confident they will be playing next season.

"We just need to get that signed," he said. "That's something I'm sure they're all working on. They'll come to an agreement that's for the players, the owners and especially the fans."

Gradkowski plans to use his connections in the NFL to help the restaurant grow.

"With my relationships throughout the NFL, I know I'll be bringing a lot of guys in throughout the years to come," he said. "There will be many NFL players there throughout the years."

For now, Gradkowski is partnering with Arnie's and owner Singh Grewal to develop the restaurant.

"I have a great relationship with him," Gradkowski said. "What they have done for the community of Toledo has been awesome. It's going to be something that Toledo hasn't seen. It's going to be something new and exciting for people to come and enjoy.

"Arnie's is actually the first place I went on my recruiting trip. Hopefully people will be saying that about Gradkowski's in the near future."

While football fans are an obvious market for the restaurant, Gradkowski plans to cater to all athletics at UT.

"Of course we're going to be excited for football and showcase football, but we also want to showcase all UT athletes and all the sports," he said. "We want to tie everyone into it. It's going to be an awesome atmosphere."

However, the opening of the restaurant could be centered on the football season as they are planning to open in summer or fall of 2012.

"I'm sure we'll have all kinds of specials set up for games and all kinds of different events," Gradkowski said. "It would be awesome to open waiting for school to start and the football season to start. That would be ideal, but we're just going to communicate with the Gateway project and see when we can get going. Everyone is excited and it can never get started soon enough, but we definitely want to make sure it's right before we do it."

Most of the details are up in the air, but the menu at Gradkowski's will feature Chicago-style food.

"All I know is the food will be good," Gradkowski said. "I might have both my grandmas involved in it. One thing I know for sure is it will be some good eating, and I'm looking forward to it.

"I've always wanted to be tied back with Toledo. It's been so good to me and it's a place I consider home. That's why I'm excited about this. We want it to be something for everyone to enjoy. It's for UT athletes and students, but also for all the administration and the community of Toledo."

Toledo and Gradkowski were good to each other during his years at UT. He threw for 9,225 yards and 85 touchdowns and rushed for 1,018 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the Rockets to a Mid-American Conference championship and two bowl games in three years as the starter.

Gradkowski also met his fiancé at UT. They are returning to Toledo this summer for their wedding.

"She's definitely excited [for the restaurant] because she's from the Toledo area and her family is around that way," he said. "It's just awesome to have something to bring us back. I always come back to the university. It's been so good to me. It's my turn to try to give something back and make something nice for people to enjoy."

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