MATTHEWS – Brakeman’s Coffee & Supply may have violated a town ordinance for its unique sign, but the downtown destination isn’t necessarily in hot water.
The Town of Matthews is working with the ownership team to fix the problem.
The company has introduced an amendment to the town ordinances that would allow downtown companies to add lettering in front of or on top of a canopy over an entryway or the front edge of a lower incidental roofline.
“I know that’s a mouthful but the point we are making is this is kind of, sort of a rooftop sign, but we do not want to allow rooftop signs in downtown,” Senior Planner Jay Camp told town commissioners Jan. 8.
Co-owner Mark Moore apologized to town leaders for violating the sign ordinance. He didn’t realize the town didn’t allow such signs.
‘We were very picky about what we wanted the sign to look like,” Moore said. “And very picky – if you’ve been to Brakeman’s – about the kind of ambiance we’re trying to present. We’re very picky about our theme, we’re very picky about our coffee and we’re very picky about our sign.”
The shop reached out to Camp after learning of the violation to see if there was a way to keep the sign.
“We think it’s a cool sign,” Moore said. “We think it’s better than probably any sign in Matthews and that’s just our opinion as artists.”
Brakeman’s Coffee researched sign ordinances in Alexandria, Virginia and Clearwater, Florida – places Moore described as “super cool towns” that have developed like Matthews over hundreds of years.
Commissioner Jeff Miller complimented town staff for trying to find common ground with the owners.
“Being that this is a repurposing of a former residence, I think the business owners are being creative and working with what they have,” Miller said. “I think they have done a great job. Although it may have been against the ordinance, I found their sign to be tasteful.”
Other commissioners are cautiously approaching the text amendment.
Commissioner Chris Melton expressed concerns about fairness for companies that may have had grander aspirations for their signs, but chose to comply with the rules.
Commissioner John Urban tested the text amendment by throwing out a few scenarios, such how it would affect buildings with multiple stories and canopies. Urban wants to strengthen the amendment to prevent companies from adding signs that don’t fit the character of Matthews.
Resident Jim Johnson appreciates Brakeman’s Coffee and is encouraged that the town is working with the company on a solution.
“Brakeman’s has really helped add something to downtown,” Johnson said.