Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Color of Money Brings Fortune to Chicago's GingerMan Tavern

Photo from
Reader Don Patterson sent in this story in a few months back. It's about his friend  Dan Schnitta, owner of the GingerMan Tavern in Chicago and the GingerMan Raceway in southwest Michigan. 

The year is 1986 and Dan was at work behind the bar at his GingerMan Tavern. He is staring at a stack of unpaid bills and a empty bar.  He is trying to decide whether to pull the plug and call it quits or try to keep the doors open, when two gentleman in suits walk in and order a couple drinks.  Dan goes about his business as the two gentleman walk around the bar pointing and talking.  The two men then approach Dan after their drinks and tell Dan they have a proposition for him.  The proposition is that they'll pay him a large sum of money and completely remodel his bar if he closes for a month or so, while they shoot scenes for a movie.  Dan has little reason to ask many questions other then where do I sign.  
Tom Cruise and Paul Newman
Dan watches as his bar is remodeled and transformed into a movie set.  The day comes when they're ready for shooting the scenes and much to Dan's surprise, he shows up to find Paul Newman and Tom Cruise on the set.  Production comes to an end and Dan now has a newly remodeled bar that was used as a movie set.  He reopens to a new clientele and business is good, the bills are paid and the bar is making money.  Dan is thinking life could get no better.
Several months later, his manger calls him all excited and asks Dan what should he do, he has arrived to find hundreds of people standing in line all the way down the block and waiting for the bar to open.  "The Color of Money" has just opened in theaters and the GingerMan Tavern is now one of Chicago's main attractions.  Dan is quick to recognize the opportunity and applies a cover charge and takes it one step further, the table that Newman and Cruise played on is roped off and a significant addition charge is applied to playing on "The Table".  The moral of the story can best be summed up as: Even in your darkest hour, one never knows when financial good fortune will walk through your door, but when it does,  you had better have a good understanding of "The Color of Money".

Dan got to know Paul Newman quite well during the filming and that both men discovered a common love for fast cars and racing.  When Dan opened his track in Michigan, Paul was a regular patron and made several visit, testing various cars. You can find the GingerMan Tavern at 3740 N. Clark Street, in Chicago. And if you're a racing fan, here's the link to Schnitta's GingerMan Raceway.

Thanks to Don Patterson for the great story.