To some the ice cream cone and the mouth about to munch on a hand-held hamburger might be a work of art.
But not to the City Council, who ordered the owners of MaGoo's Sandwiches and Yogurt, the hamburger place sporting the larger-than-life painting, to get rid of the sign.
Not even a "save the cone" petition drive, started by concerned patrons, or admissions by council members that they liked the painting could spare the vanilla swirl with sprinkles.
"Your signs are adorable," said Mayor Rhonda McCune, an admirer of the cone. "The point is you painted an illegal sign."
The cone problem started last November after a conscientious city official noticed the sign and notified code enforcement officials that it could be a possible violation. It then became the subject of an investigation and, as city officials said, "the subject of code enforcement activity." The shop was found to exceed its sign limits under a section of the city code which permits only two signs per business. The mouth, hamburger and cone were also not in conformance because they were painted on the wall--a no-no for the shopping center.
MaGoo's is one of several restaurants in the commercial center at the northeast corner of Knott and Lincoln avenues. It caters to the lunch crowd and impulse buyers with a hankering for something sweet.
The paintings had actually been there for several months before Gerald Dicker bought the center last year. He decided to keep them because they would give him a leg up on the competition, he said. "We are just trying to build a better mousetrap," Dicker told the council.
After being told the signs were illegal, he applied to the Planning Commission for a variance that would exempt the restaurant from the sign restraints, but the commission turned him down. Dicker then turned to the City Council for help.
Trying to dodge the sign issue, he argued that the paintings weren't even a sign but a mural, so the city code didn't apply. He also told the council he felt he was being unfairly treated by a hostile staff. "We think the sign is a mural and doesn't violate anything and therefore we shouldn't even be here," he said.
City staff members, who recommended that the paintings be removed, didn't buy the argument. Even pleas by Dicker that he was losing money at the center and needed the cone to get people's attention didn't help.
"An ice cream cone and a hamburger at a sandwich shop depicts advertising," said Rick Warsinski, assistant director of development services.
Dicker now has a "reasonable amount of time" to get rid of the cone, mouth and hamburger, officials said. A couple of weeks would be considered reasonable, Warsinski said.