By Mary O’KEEFE and Michael YEGHIAYAN
For years, Glendale Police Officer Jerry Uebel was the “cop on the beat” for Montrose. He was seen at every town event from the Montrose Christmas Parade to a new business dedication. Uebel was the community officer who knew everyone’s name.
He retired in 2007 and, although he could still be seen around town, his wasn’t as constant a presence.
“I had little businesses around town, like the bounce house at the Harvest Market,” Uebel said. “But I wanted a brick and mortar [business].”
Making certain the lights were strung just right around the trees that line Honolulu Avenue for the holidays was another of his ventures, but he had another dream in mind.
“When you interviewed me [for another paper] when I retired, I said I wanted to start a restaurant here,” he said. “And now I have.”
Along with business partner Jay Hoehn, Uebel celebrated the opening of a Wingstop franchise at 1975 Verdugo Blvd., just west of the United Artists Theater in La Cañada.
As someone with a self-professed long interest in the restaurant industry, Uebel found himself running a restaurant less than two years after learning about the company.
“I saw a commercial for the restaurant around a year and a half ago, and had never heard of it. As I learned more, it clicked that it would work well for the community,” said Uebel. “We didn’t want to just open any franchise, we wanted to open a Wingstop. I believe in this community, this product and ourselves.”
The restaurant is designed to cater to families and Uebel, who is also a Crescenta Valley High School alumnus, is ready to make his business an active participant in the community.
“We did our best to hire from the area, and I’m proud to be able to create an extra 20 local jobs in a tough economy,” said the former police officer. “Walmart has customers, Wingstop has guests. I want people who come here to get to know me personally.”
Wingstop corporate representatives came by for the soft opening on Aug. 7.
“We almost doubled what the [corporate office] expected earnings would be,” Uebel said. “We were so busy.”
Although the business is a franchise, it has a Crescenta Valley feel about it.
“The weird thing is, this place has taken on a whole mood of its own. I love it. People come in; they move tables around so everyone can sit together. Everyone talks to everyone,” he said.
Being a police officer in the area, Uebel knew that there were very few places to go late at night, especially for teens and young adults. Wingstop is located near the theater, easy to stop by before or after a late night movie.
“Our hours are 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week,” he said.
With television screens positioned throughout, it has a feel of a sports bar and, although they sell beer, it really is a restaurant suitable for all ages, so teens have a place to go, as do families.
Uebel said he liked being a police officer and he really loved the community he served. He looks forward to serving the community again – even if it’s a platter of wings.
“You know what they say: When one door closes another opens,” he said of his retirement and now his second career as a restaurateur.
The grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 7 coinciding with the opening weekend of the NFL.