Famous Dave’s didn't have a drive-through until Monday afternoon when a car drove through the dining room in the middle of the restaurant’s grand opening.
Before a Honda Civic came crashing through the front plate glass windows, the new Famous Dave’s at 2851 W. 95th St. was doing a brisk grand opening day business.
“The restaurant had a tremendous lunch and it carried on through the afternoon,” Famous Dave’s Vice President of Marketing Aric Nissen said.
While there is typically a lull between the lunch and dinner rush, Nissen said the restaurant was full when he came back at 3 p.m. to talk to a reporter about the grand opening.
“Then this incredible thing happened,” he said. “A car comes completely through the dining room. It shocked everyone involved. It sounded like an aquarium burst.”
Evergreen Park Police would not comment on the accident except to say that there were no injuries. Nissen said that the driver was a woman who appeared to be in her 50s.
Nissen said the car drove all they way through the dining room and stopped when it hit the counter. About 20 to 30 team members were working in the serving and kitchen area when the accident occurred.
There were eight to ten patrons dining in along the back wall, and another ten customers were sitting on the west side of the dining room waiting to pick up carryout orders.
“Literally this lady drove through the only space in the restaurant where she would not have hit anyone,” Nissen said. “We’re just very thankful no one was seriously hurt in this. We’re counting our blessings.”
Nissen said it appeared that the driver came into the parking lot too quickly and missed the parking space.
“She got so scared that she jammed on the accelerator multiple times,” he said, pointing to tire tracks across the restaurant’s dining room floor. “She kept speeding up as she was going through instead of hitting the brake.
Some employees were sent home early. Famous Dave’s is working through the night to make the necessary repairs. The restaurant will try again to have a “re-grand opening” at 4 p.m. Tuesday “but no cars this time.”
Asked if he thought a car driving through the dining room on the restaurant’s grand opening was a good or bad sign, Nissen said the way the beams fell preventing the car from going into the employees' work area formed the sign of a cross.
“There are a lot of people feeling very fortunate and blessed tonight,” he said.