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updated: 12/23/2019 5:18 PM

‘Do this don’t do that let us keep our sign’: Franks for the Memories owners protesting sign vote

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  • The owners of Franks for the Memories are unhappy with the Mundelein village board's decision to reject a request to keep the pole sign outside the restaurant. This is the message on the sign's east side.

    The owners of Franks for the Memories are unhappy with the Mundelein village board's decision to reject a request to keep the pole sign outside the restaurant. This is the message on the sign's east side.
    Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • The owners of Franks for the Memories are unhappy with the Mundelein village board's decision to reject a request to keep the pole sign outside the restaurant. This is the message on the sign's west side.

    The owners of Franks for the Memories are unhappy with the Mundelein village board's decision to reject a request to keep the pole sign outside the restaurant. This is the message on the sign's west side.
    Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 

The owners of a famed Mundelein restaurant are protesting the village board's recent decision not to let them keep the eatery's pole-mounted sign -- and they're using the sign itself to do it.

Both sides of the yellow message board outside Franks for the Memories, 645 E. Hawley St., paraphrase the classic 1970 song "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band.

"Do this don't do that let us keep our sign" the east side of the sign reads. "Sign sign everywhere a pole sign" is on the other side.

Co-owner Jim Schultz said he put up the messages after his request for a permit to keep the pole sign was rejected two weeks ago.

"It's just a light-humored jab at the village," said Schultz, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Jodi.

Franks opened in 1984 and became the first restaurant in Lake County to serve Buffalo-style chicken wings. The winner of several culinary awards, it's still known for that spicy delicacy.

But the restaurant's 16-foot-tall display doesn't meet the strict requirements of the sign ordinance trustees approved in 2015 to improve the village's aesthetics.

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

Under the ordinance, signs that don't comply with the rules must be removed by mid-April. Owners can install ground-level, monument-style signs if they choose.

Replacing the sign will cost several thousand dollars, Schultz said. He's also disappointed about losing the iconic display, which many customers photograph during visits.

"That's what people look for," Schultz said. "It's always been there."

Schultz said he added the paraphrased lyrics to the message board because he felt "defeated" after the board's vote.

"I felt we should have been grandfathered in, that (our) strength and longevity in Mundelein would've meant something," he said.

Trustees Dawn Abernathy, Ray Semple and Robin Meier voted to save the sign. Trustees Erich Schwenk, Kara Lambert and Kerston Russell rejected the request.

Mayor Steve Lentz broke the 3-3 tie with a "no" vote.

Schultz isn't the only person who is angry about the vote -- so are Franks for the Memories fans, many of whom voiced their displeasure on social media and at dailyherald.com after an initial article was published.

"Lame decision by the board," one person said.

"Absolutely disgraceful," wrote another.

Others called for Mundelein residents to vote Schwenk, Lambert, Russell and Lentz out of office.

On Friday, Lentz acknowledged the Franks sign is "highly recognizable." But he stuck by his decision and said the pole has to come down.

Lentz insisted the Schultzes can save the sign portion of the display by installing it within a monument. As he has in the past, Lentz urged the Schultzes to apply for a village grant to help cover the cost.