Sign code stymies entrepreneur

By Pat Sunderland


Sign code stymies entrepreneur | Business, Sign Code

Tammy Murray has big plans for a restaurant at 420 Main Street in Delta. She purchased the building formerly occupied by Gabriela's and is completely remodeling the interior, as well as renovating the building to incorporate a smoker to impart flavor, primarily to chicken, but other meats as well. The restaurant will be known as "The Chicken Roost."

Murray is also the owner of Delta Dab and Doobie, a smoke shop located just south of her new restaurant. She explains that she purchased the restaurant at the urging of her personal assistant, Cyd Menzel. Menzel's grandparents operated Terrell's Restaurant in that location for many years, and Cyd has restaurant experience of her own.

Murray hopes to open the restaurant July 1, in advance of Deltarado Days.

In keeping with the theme "We Smoke Everything," the restaurant will also feature smoked salmon, smoked roast beef and smoked pork ribs. Instead of liquid smoke, the restaurant will use locally sourced peach and cherry wood to add flavor to the meat.

Murray believes the food will make The Chicken Roost one of the most popular restaurants in Delta, but to really make the business stand out she planned to paint flames up the front of the building and place a 10-foot-tall rooster on the roof. She soon found out city sign codes prohibit the rooster (or any sign that rises above the parapet or ridgeline of the building).

And because the flames are a marketing tool, the city views them as part of the signage and subject to the 50-square-foot limit on a building of that size.

Murray says it doesn't make sense that Delta Dab and Doobie is allotted the same amount of signage, even though that storefront is half the size. Community development director Glen Black explains sign size allowances are based on the linear frontage of the building, but all structures are provided a minimum of 50 square feet. That's why Delta Dab and Doobie, which is on a partial lot measuring just 12.5 feet across, is allowed the same amount of signage as the restaurant, which is considerably larger.

And while she argues that the flames are artistic, and should be considered a mural, the city says her intent is clear -- to market the business. So even though she isn't using any words, the flames are still part of the signage, on equal footing with the sign over the door announcing the restaurant's name.

In the end, Murray submitted a sign permit application that did not include the flames, so Black said his department never had an opportunity to review her request.

Murray is a military veteran and a self-described entrepreneuer who invested in real estate in California for over 20 years. The money she collected from rentals propelled ventures in California and Colorado, including Paonia Peace Pipe in Paonia. In addition to her downtown businesses, Murray had planned to operate a food truck on property she owns in North Delta.

Again, she ran into roadblocks when the city said she would have to obtain a transient vendor license and go through the site development process. Black said the Lunch Box, a variation on the food truck, went through that process before it was granted approval to operate near Delta Hardware.

If she can't get approval for a food truck, Murray is already thinking of other possibilities for her three-acre parcel in North Delta. Murray says she was in the military, so she understands systems and structures, but she's having a hard time figuring out why it's easier to open a medical marijuana dispensary in California than it is to get flames on a building in Delta.