The electronic sign outside Austin’s Saloon & Eatery, 481 Peterson Road, has been up for less than a year, but it is pulling its weight, according to Austin’s owner Mark Khayat.
“For the first time in a long time we’ve been able to put what’s the inside of Austin’s on the outside,” Khayat said referring to the sign’s ability to promote the food aspect of the business to people who thought the venue was just for music and shows.
Since the 18-foot sign was put up in April, Khayat says menu specials promoted on the electronic sign have seen increases in sales.
“Some products as much as 50 percent and some products not as much,” Khayat said. “But every one of them have moved, so people do react” to the sign.
The Village Board approved the 32-square-foot electronic message board in January. It is subject to similar regulations as the one at the Tranel Financial Group, 1509 N. Milwaukee Ave. Both electronic signs are not allowed to have flashing messages or spinning fade-ins or fade-outs.
Sign Not Reaching Full Potential
While the sign has been helping to increase awareness of Austin’s food specials, Khayat says the restrictions are holding back the sign’s full potential.
Under village ordinance, messages on the sign have to remain for 10 seconds.
“For people driving by at the speed limit, that’s too long of a time frame,” said Duane Laska, president of North Shore Sign, the company that installed Austin’s electronic message board.
Khayat says the time restriction poses a challenge for him because drivers either see the front part of the message or the end but not the full message.
“We’ve promoted a lot of charity events, fundraisers, but again, you can’t get a lot of information on that,” Khayat said. “You might be able to get a logo of the charity, but you can’t fit when the event happens.”
Business Would Like More Flexibility
Khayat and Laska say they are considering reaching out to the Village Board to see if they would allow the sign to reach its full potential and have six seconds per frame of hold time instead of 10 seconds, and more movement within the body of the message.
Some people have raised concerns that movement on an electronic sign could distract drivers, but Laska, who is also the vice chair of International Sign Association, says, “There’s never been an accident that’s been blamed on the fact that a sign caused the distraction.”
“We know that if we got crazy, it would only impact our business,” Khayat said. “Our customers are not going to like the Las Vegas quality of signs, so that’s the last thing we are going to do.”