Mundelein board won't save Franks for the Memories sign

  • Franks for the Memories was the first restaurant in Lake County to serve Buffalo-style chicken wings. The owners wanted to keep the pole sign that's outside the business, but the village board on Monday said it has to go because it doesn't meet strict village standards.

      Franks for the Memories was the first restaurant in Lake County to serve Buffalo-style chicken wings. The owners wanted to keep the pole sign that's outside the business, but the village board on Monday said it has to go because it doesn't meet strict village standards. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Franks for the Memories was the first restaurant in Lake County to serve Buffalo-style chicken wings. The owners wanted to keep the pole sign that's outside the business, but the village board on Monday said it has to go because it doesn't meet strict village standards.

      Franks for the Memories was the first restaurant in Lake County to serve Buffalo-style chicken wings. The owners wanted to keep the pole sign that's outside the business, but the village board on Monday said it has to go because it doesn't meet strict village standards. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/12/2019 8:30 AM
Editor's note: Mayor Steve Lentz suggested re-using the rectangular sign containing the Franks for the Memories logo within a brick monument that conforms to the ordinance.

The first restaurant in Lake County to serve Buffalo-style chicken wings, Franks for the Memories is a beloved Mundelein landmark.

But the village board on Monday said the eye-catching pole sign that's stood outside the award-winning restaurant at 645 E. Hawley St. for more than 30 years needs to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

With Mayor Steve Lentz breaking a tie, the board voted 4-3 to reject a formal request from the restaurant's owners to leave the bright-yellow sign in place even though it doesn't meet the strict requirements of the sign ordinance the village board approved in 2015 to improve the village's aesthetics.

Several types of signs are banned under the regulations, including those on poles and those that use strobe lights or floodlights. Message boards with changeable text are forbidden, too.

Franks for the Memories' pole and sign are about 16 feet tall. The sign bears the name of the restaurant, but the "F" in Franks is made out of three hot dog links and the "M" in Memories resembles a musical note.

A separate message board was on the pole beneath the main sign.

Trustee Dawn Abernathy thought those design elements were quirky enough to save the sign.

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"Their logo is remarkable," Abernathy said. "It's a unique sign."

Trustee Erich Schwenk disagreed.

"It's a rectangle sign," Schwenk said before his "no" vote.

Schwenk and Lentz were joined in the majority by trustees Kara Lambert and Kerston Russell.

Abernathy, Trustee Ray Semple and Trustee Robin Meier voted to save the sign.

Under the ordinance, the sign will have to be removed by mid-April. Once it's gone, the owners can install a ground-level, monument-style sign if they choose.

Open since 1984, Franks is one of Mundelein's better-known restaurants. It was a regular eatery for members of the Chicago Bears' 1985 championship team.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The pole sign has been in place since 1973, when a different restaurant was on the site, documents indicate.

In his application to keep the sign, co-owner James Schultz Jr. insisted the sign -- the color of which matches the paint job on the triangular part of the distinctive building -- is an important feature of the restaurant. Many customers post photos of the sign on social media to inform friends and relatives of their visits, he said.

"(It) has become an integral part of our brand," Schultz said.

Schultz also said a shorter monument sign wouldn't be as visible.

After the vote, Lentz suggested re-using the rectangular sign containing the logo within a brick monument that conforms to the ordinance. He encouraged Schultz and his wife, Jodi, to apply for a village grant to help cover the cost of the new sign.

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