Hollywood & Vine’s big sign a block off the courthouse square has been controversial, to say the least. But should it be taken down?
The popular restaurant’s co-owner, Dobber Stephenson, appeared before the Glen Rose Rose City Council Monday night and presented a petition with more than 600 names of people who support the sign.
Many were locals, but some came from as far away as Paris, France.
The restaurant celebrated its one-year anniversary on July 26. In that year, it has contributed to the local economy, Stephenson told the council. The eatery employs 20 to 25 full-time employees, paid $42,407 in real estate, sales and liquor taxes (and projects almost $51,000 for the next year) and recorded 183,749 customer transactions.
Then there were some fun statistics - 11,465 burgers, 3,292 chicken fried steaks, 29,828 beers and 8,964 margaritas sold. And don’t forget all those fried catfish fillets and fries on Thursday nights.
Joking aside, Stephenson said the restaurant moved into a historic building, the former White Gables Inn, that likely would have been torn down and turned it into a viable commercial entity that draws local people and visitors downtown.
Moreover, Hollywood & Vine is “green,” Stephenson added. Much of the materials and decorations in the restaurant were salvaged material from other sites. About 80 percent of the construction, including the sign, came from recycled materials, Stephenson pointed out.
Stephenson appeared before the council because the restaurant likely was going to be cited by the city for violating the sign ordinance, he said after the meeting. He showed up with a copy of the city’s B-3 District rules that state that one free-standing sign is allowed for each free-standing building in the district, not to exceed 50 square feet of signage.
“Mine is 110 square feet,” Stephenson said of the Hollywood sign, but he pointed out that the restaurant site has three freestanding buildings.
He also held up an “encroachment agreement” he signed with the city. It grants Hollywood & Vine permission “to encroach upon, use and occupy portions of the designated utility easement for the purpose of a restaurant” and grants permission “to encroach upon, use and occupy that portion of the designated public right-of-way” at Elm and Vine streets and about 200 feet of the northwest sector to construct a parking lot.
The city’s sign ordinance calls for signs not to exceed 15 feet in height. The Hollywood sign is about 16 feet tall, which Stephenson said was done to allow clearance for 18-wheelers delivering supplies to the restaurant.
After the meeting, Stephenson also said he was “stunned” that no action was taken.
“I don’t know what that means,” he said. Supporters had showed up at the council chambers prepared to stand up and speak on behalf of the sign.
People who signed the petition said they thought it made Glen Rose distinctive. One supporter from Charlotttesville, Va., asked, “Why would you want to try to end a business in a town that looks like it is on the edge of extinction, anyway? Keep the sign.”
Another supporter from San Antonio wrote, “ Glen Rose rocks. Keep the sign. Deal with it.”
Randy Adams of Boyd thought the sign “creates distinction above and beyond.”
And Michael Ellis of Dallas added this suggestion that likely isn’t going to be embraced at Town Hall: “Make the sign bigger.”