After 50 years, Flip’s sign is gone

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Submitted: Sat, 09/29/2012 - 3:54am
Updated: Sat, 09/29/2012 - 12:02pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington’s sign ordinance is forcing businesses in the Port City to remove signs that do not comply. Today that meant the end of an era for one sign many people say is a Wilmington icon.

After almost 50 years, the city says the iconic Flip’s Bar-B-Que sign has to go. The sign on Oleander Drive does not follow city ordinance. After a long appeal, the city told owner Bob Church the sign had to be gone by Monday. Church says he thinks the sign should have been grandfathered in and allowed to stay.

“It’s just a landmark,” Church said. “It’s been here all these years, and people really like it, and they just don’t understand why it’s coming down.”

Church says he has tried to contact city officials to find out what he could do to save the sign, but he did not hear back. The $200-a-day fine for keeping the sign up is not something Church can afford, so he scheduled to have the sign removed.

He says this is just another sign of the times.

“It’s just getting harder and harder,” Church said. “The taxes are going up, insurance is going up, everything is going up. The cost of living is going up, and it’s getting tougher.”

As for Flip’s patrons, their opinion is simple.

“Leave it up. It’s fine,” one customer said.

But at 2:30 p.m. Friday, the red logo came down. Church says it was a sad moment for him and Wilmington as a whole, which he says has lost another icon.

He says he hopes to restore the sign to its former glory and put it inside the store.

About an hour after the sign came down, we got a phone call from a city spokesman. He said Church could leave the sign up and apply for historic preservation without being fined. The city says it told Church about this option. Church says the city did not.


  • Guester says:

    Umm, it’s just a sign, folks. How long did the reporter have to wait to interview a customer? I thought they closed years ago.

  • Guester says:

    The Battleship isn’t in Wilmington.

  • huh? says:

    I drive by there several times a day and the real estate sign has been there for awhile now.

  • Guest656 says:

    I drove by Saturday night. There’s another sign out front now. A “for sale” sign from a real estate company. Good job Wilmington!

  • Charles Walters says:

    I see the post blaming the Mayor, and the City Council for the problems in Wilmington. I say if you do not like the crap that is going on, get off your A$$ES and vote them out of office. Then put the people in who will preserve Wilmington’s history while leading it into the future. I grew up in Wilmington, and the last time I came back, the city looked like hell. Every where you looked there were unfinished projects, and no one working on them. All the infighting, and crooked deals are killing what used to be a great city and it is sad. The bottom line is if you do not like who you hired to run the city,USE YOUR VOTE TO FIRE THEM!!!!!!!!!

  • Guestin says:

    We need to stand up and say enough is enough and find a way to vote all the city council out like a impeachment process that gets rid of criminal insane city council we have.

  • Guest1966 says:

    Does anyone know if this stupid rule applies to the BATTLESHIP sign, seems its pretty much the same kind of eyesore their getting rid of? Now if they can get rid of that crappy art sign at the corner of MLK parkway, and North College Rd!

  • Guester says:

    If they are moving or selling the place, then the sign would have come down anyway. Next someone will try to convince me that they are moving over the sign thing. Sorry, but if that’s the only reason you go through all the expense of moving your business, you won’t get any sympathy from me.

  • Guest43 says:

    Maybe the best thing Flips could have done is take the sign, cut it in half and separate them by a few inches. Same sign, same square footage, but TWO signs. Make the crony town council look like crap when they have to explain why they have to destroy small business instead of support it.

  • huh? says:

    Maybe I don’t understand. Yeah, that sign has been here as long as I have, but just because it’s OLD doesn’t mean it’s HISTORIC. Did George Washington eat there or something? I drive by that place several times a day and at most I’ve seen three cars there. Get real, people. Old does not mean historic.

  • Guestpep says:

    The Battleship IS in Wilmington:

    1 Battleship Road Northeast Wilimington, NC 28401

  • Thomas says:

    Where you born here? Did you grow up in Wilmington? Or are you a newcomer that wants the area to conform to what YOU think it should be? If you moved here from wherever and want to change this area to what YOU think it should be, then move back ‘home’.

  • Natchez134 says:

    Well it’s no surprise the “city official” now says Flips can leave the sign up… stating they told Flips that (yeah right!) Knowing the city… and their officials I’m sure he was NEVER told this. I wonder if the city will pay for him talking it down and for putting it back up? Come on Flips…… that sign IS HISTORIC and it needs to go back up!

  • Guester says:

    The battleship is not within city limits.

  • Guest? says:

    has a Wilmington address, but they aren’t in the city. I think it’s the same with the battleship. The sign ordinance only applies to city property.

  • qeljfbc says:

    This isn’t the Battleship. The mayor didn’t single handedly take the sign down, etc. The fact is laws and regulations change and so do the times. I wish this entire area would just move forward. The sign does look like something from the fifties and we are now in the twenty first century!

  • Guestgustd says:

    What made locally -owned businesses and small towns unique and stand apart from McDonalds/Burger King/Pizza Hut, etc. is rapidly disappearing because of these petty regulations and corporate greed. Soon Wilmington will look like LA and everywhere else in Boringville, USA. Shameful.

  • bob says:

    i want the damned government out of my life !!!!!!
    fix the roads ,fix the sewers ,pay the police ,firemen ,etc. i`ll pay my taxes and THATS ALL we need you for . you are NOT a celebrity and we don`t care what you think or want . STAY OUT OF OUR LIVES !!!
    i sold my boat so i didn`t have to deal with the gestapo on the water
    and they pop up on oleander dr. at flips.

  • Guest61246 says:

    And, the city could not call him an hour BEFORE the sign came down to tell him of the option. If the city had already told him about historic options, why did they call him again? Total bunch of losers running the show, but for some reason, keep getting voted back in.

  • maskinia says:

    I grew most of the people running our town flew into here. My opinion they can fly the hell right back outta here!! We liked our town before all the new rules and regulations. Who cares if the sign was older than dirt? It was our dirt and we like it. Our poor town is being turned into crap in my opinion like it or not. I am ready to leave here and give it to the outsiders. Wilmington was never meant to get this big.

  • Disgusted says:

    Another fine example of (local) government over stepping its purpose. We have to be protected from signs!? You have to be kidding me? This is absolutely insane. I know planning and zoning et all is necessary, but give me a break, force a business to remove a sign that has been there for nearly 50 years? And not return phone calls? City government employees mean well, but in this case this is an example of being out of touch in a major way. What a great way to encourage small businesses to come to Wilmington. NO THANKS!

  • captsundrop says:

    Well theres your new option. Its down, so restore it, apply for historical preservation and put it back up !

  • Erlkoenig says:

    It’s time to flip Taxo saffo and the other clueless councilwomen like O’Greedy.

  • Guesty 1 says:

    Sign or no sign, Flip’s BBQ sucks. Sorry excuse for NC BBQ in my opinion.

  • Guestre says:

    So after almost 50 years?? What is the problem goodness.

  • Guestarticulatore says:

    BULL BLEEP, BULL BLEEP, BULL BLEEP…. The City of Wilmington is a better place today because Flip’s BBQ sign is gone…. BULL

  • Lynn Rogers says:

    Why not move it somewhere else like on top of the building or somewhere else.

  • Guest7655 says:

    Once the code enforcement mafia says you are going to do something, that’s it. These people let some slide, and others will toe the line.

    Take a look around town and you will see many examples of signs much larger than 50 square feet. It’s all about who you are.

    Selective enforcement at it’s finest!

  • SurfCityTom says:

    that sign was a landmark for many when driving on Oleander. Now, if there is an increase in auto accidents from drivers losing their direction, let’s hope the City will step in with some vehicle repair dollars; assuming they are in the budget.

  • 'Cue Lover says:

    “a city spokesman. He said Church could leave the sign up and apply for historic preservation without being fined. The city says it told Church about this option. Church says the city did not.”

    If all of this is true, why doesn’t the City let him move the sign 5′ away from the road and put it back up?

    …and then we’ll all sit down and have a plate of ‘cue & some iced tea…live and let live…

  • guesty says:

    Whew, I sure am glad city council got that terrible issue handled. Now maybe they can get back to the business of regulating how much of a window can be covered by downtown businesses, or maybe get back to ignoring the taxpayers that don’t want baseball here on our dime. I know, they can start planning on micro-managing some other insignificant non-issue.

  • Guest1948 says:

    Guesty, you hit the nail on the head!!

  • BorninWinterPark says:

    I wonder how many of the “city officials” are native Wilmingtonians…I am and with my husband’s military career moving us all over the world I have come back to a very different Wilmington. Officials have “bettered” our once unique city to look like any other commercialized, concrete city. no one stands up to these bullies…The beautiful .Wilmington that lured everyone here now looks like any other city, anywhere…
    Thank you Mr Church for all of the memories and for trying to stand up to these bullies.

  • RSimmons says:

    I believe the city when they say the told him, But whom did they actually deliver the message to and which underling was assigned to deliver the message? My own experience with the city is you have to fight through the layers of assistants and under-managers to get answers.When you do get an answer it often comes back through an assistant.
    These are the kinds of problems you would expect your city councilman to help you with. But they never return calls or emails in seems unless you are a Developer, Realtor or a Lawyer.

  • B M says:

    Well it’s finally happening to channel 3 too! Last nite I said it was sad that Saffo and company was more interested in a taxpayer funded ballpark than preserving a small business owner and it didn’t get published, dynamics are changing.

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