Pizza chain's 'shrooms are safe in Raleigh

March 14, 2002

Owners of a Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant in Raleigh, N.C., learned March 11 that they can keep the three giant purple mushrooms in front of their building, though, technically, they violate the city's sign laws.

"I'm stoked," Kent Hodges, one of the restaurant's owners, told the News Observer. "It's the first time in my life that something like this has turned out so well."

The city's Board of Adjustment decided unanimously that Hodges and partner Casey Fox deserved an exception to the city's sign rules.

After erecting the mushrooms in January just days before the store's grand opening, city officials said that while the mushrooms had no writing on them, they were signs because they drew attention to the business. As signs, they didn't meet the city's height and light restrictions.

In defense of their $10,000 sculptures, the Mellow Mushroom owners said the mushrooms were art, not signs.

At a public meeting on March 11, four people the owners didn't even know spoke on behalf of the pizza restaurant, citing examples of other Raleigh businesses with sculptures.

"We had a lot of people say some cool things," Hodges said. "It was a good day."

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