Sometimes a story seems important enough to veer off the Lincoln Highway and onto other roads. A story in GTR Newspapers (source of the image below) about a Tex-Mex restaurant on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the restoration of its neon sign should serve as inspiration to any roadside business owner wondering if it’s worth investing time and money into preservation.
El Rancho Grande opened at its current spot on 11th Street in 1953 and the neon sign followed soon after. While bypasses drained traffic and other businesses withered, “El Rancho Grande held on to its customer base, stayed open and is today the oldest operating restaurant along the [city’s] old Route 66 corridor.” The sign however had faded and stopped working; new owners “felt the restoration of the sign would be the icing on the cake and it would once again reach out to passing motorists that a Tulsa tradition is alive and well.”
But showing how regulations can be out of step with public opinion:
it was determined the sign would need to remain attached to the building during restoration. Taking it down would trigger city sign permit requirements that could render the old sign totally out of compliance for further use. Therefore the sign was restored in place.
Here’s hoping citry planners will be the next to realize the vcalue in preserving and restoring vintage signs and businesses.