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Restaurant earns sign with persistence
Workers put the final touches on a sign at Juan’s Mexicali restaurant Wednesday afternoon. According to owner Michael Moody, it was a project that took four years to complete. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon
It took four years of negotiating, but Juan’s Mexicali owner Michael Moody finally got the city of Hinesville to approve a new sign for his restaurant. The sign was posted where a Wendy’s sign once stood.
On Wednesday afternoon, the final bolts were adjusted and the electricity was connected. The sign now alerts diners to the presence of the restaurant, which offers a blend of Mexican and Southern California cuisine.
“We are a little piece of Baja,” restaurant manager Mary Ann Harrison said as she watched workers install the sign. “Now folks will know where we are and once they come in they are hooked.”
Moody, who opened the restaurant four years ago, said the snag came when the previous owners removed the sign façade, leaving behind just the iron posts. He said city officials did not consider the existing posts a sign, thereby exempting them from being grandfathered in under the city’s amended sign ordinance.
“Even though there is nowhere else on this property to erect a sign,” he said, “I felt from day one that we had a special circumstance here, being that we have a commercial property and no other option for a sign.
“Folks would drive back and forth right by us. Like all other retail businesses in Hinesville, when you face a deployment, we need every edge that we can get. Over the last four years, we’ve had countless people ask us, ‘How long have you been here? I didn’t know you were here and I’ve been in Hinesville all my life.’”
“On occasion,” the owner said, “I’ve given friends directions here and they’ll drive back and forth looking for us and they just don’t see us because the oak tree hides us and we sit back off the road. It’s very busy and there’s a lot of traffic out here. I have always felt that a sign was critical to our success.”
He said frequent appeals to the city eventually paid off.
“We got a new mayor and new council members and now we have a sign,” he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, workers cut away one of the posts and started prepping the remaining one for the new sign. By Wednesday afternoon, the sign was ready and Moody said he was elated the project finally came to fruition.
Moody and Harrison describe their restaurant as fast casual, a fairly new concept in dining.
“I guarantee them they will be completely surprised because everybody is,” Moody said of new customers’ reactions. Our décor is very upscale. Everything we make is fresh, no preservatives, no MSG, and we have something for all likes.”
The menu includes traditional Mexican plates, California cuisines, Thai peanut wraps, Cubano wraps and more.
“I would put our steak burrito up against any in the world,” Moody said. “There is none better.”
Juan’s Mexicali is at 207 W. Gen. Screven Way. It is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays. They deliver and cater. For information, call 408-5826.
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