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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.

Comment on this Story

  • Thomas

    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’.

  • Guester

    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.

  • maskinia

    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.

  • Guest?

    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.

  • Guester

    The battleship is not within city limits.

  • Guestpep

    The Battleship IS in Wilmington:

    1 Battleship Road Northeast Wilimington, NC 28401

  • huh?

    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.

  • Guest43

    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.

  • Guest1966

    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!

  • Guestin

    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.

  • Charles Walters

    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!!!!!!!!!

  • Guest656

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

  • huh?

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

  • Guester

    The Battleship isn’t in Wilmington.

  • Guester

    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.

  • Guesty 1

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

  • Erlkoenig

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

  • captsundrop

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

  • Disgusted

    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!

  • Guest61246

    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.

  • bob

    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.

  • Guestgustd

    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.

  • qeljfbc

    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!

  • Natchez134

    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!

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