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Creative Sign Resources Keeps Customers “Hoppy”

A Fort Wayne, IN bistro/brewpub enjoys new signage



Restaurant concepts have certainly changed from a generation ago. Back then, most cities’ offerings divided into four groups: fast-food, family-style, gourmet or “ethnic” restaurants. Today, however, eateries are more difficult to classify. The entrees on the menu and beer- and wine-list libations often differ little between corner bistros and Michelin Guide-rated brasseries.
The Hoppy Gnome bistro and brewpub in Fort Wayne, IN underscores how many entrepreneurs in smaller Midwestern cities are shaking the rust off their burgs’ collective belts and helping create dynamic downtowns.
The Hoppy Gnome’s ownership group turned to Ft. Wayne-based Creative Sign Resources to develop its signage after another vendor’s efforts had proven uninspiring. The sign program, which the shop designed using CorelDRAW x6 for the concept design and SketchUp for 3-D production, entails a three-sided sign installed under a canopy, a wall-mounted flat sign, an “etched-glass” vinyl logo, a wall-wrap mural and wayfinding signage.
The main 3-D-sign panels entailed waterjet-cut (which the shop outsourced) Chemetal 380 weathered steel with 1-in.-thick Plexiglas® acrylic letters processed on a MultiCam 3000 CNC router. Installers populated the signs’ aluminum and steel cabinets – the shop chemically bonded the cabinets together with Lord 406/19 epoxy and ASI 504 silicone – with Osram BoxLED Plus 6500K modules. A photocell switch controls them. A layer of 3M’s 3635-30 white diffuser film on the second-surface letters enabled even illumination. Creative Sign Resources finished the cabinet with a Matthews polyurethane clearcoat to prevent rusting.
“The building is located in an historic district in downtown Fort Wayne, so we encountered tight square-footage and height restrictions,” Creative Sign Resources Design Director Rick Stemmler said. “And, for the three-sided sign, a variance was required. Because the sign is located at the intersection of two one-way streets, this approval was essential.”
He continued, “Using the Chemetal product was a challenge because we wanted its weathered look, but it has a patina finish that’s designed to weather in the elements. To stop this process, and to keep the plastic clean, we assembled the sign in the shop and tested tolerances that would enable clearcoating the signface without staining the acrylic. To prevent any future weathering, we applied six coats of gloss-finish clearcoat.”



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