Tag Archives: neon

Fox’s Donut Den

4 May

Fox's Donut Den

Amidst a lackluster sea of chain restaurant signage, Fox’s Donut Den breaks up the monotony of commercialism with a nostalgic pop of neon. With its dancing doughnuts and Dutch boy mascot, the sign has become a Green Hills showpiece.

 

In 1973, Norman Fox, a then recent graduate of Lipscomb University, purchased a portion of the Memphis based “Harlow’s Honey Fluff Doughnuts” franchise. At the suggestion of his wife, he dubbed his business “Fox’s Doughnut Den” and began cranking out a steady supply of delicious sugary golden rings. In 1977, the business moved to its current location in Green Hills. It was at this time that Norman purchased the beloved sign from Harlow’s for $1,200, and had it moved from Memphis to its new home in Nashville. Over the years, the neon beauty has become one of Green Hills’ most recognizable landmarks.

 

In 2009, Brookside Properties began a remodel of the Hillsboro Plaza, requiring all of its tenants to update their signage. Hoping to create a more modern and uniform look, the quirky sign was removed by the property owners with no intentions of being returned. Fans of the beloved Donut Den were dismayed, and demanded the return of the neon landmark. A great loss was felt at the sign’s removal. Many believed the character of the area, which was in low supply to begin with, would be greatly affected if the iconic “dancing” letters were replaced with a static piece of painted fiberglass.

 

During its absence, hundreds of Donut Den customers expressed their wish to see the sign returned. Brookside was not deaf to the outpour of requests. After much deliberation, the property owners opted to restore, rather than replace, the glowing Green Hills attraction. After a few coats of fresh paint and some much needed TLC, the famous sign was returned to its proper location.  The Dutch boy had never looked better.

 

Today, it’s hard to imagine Green Hills without its most loved icon, and if you’re willing to brave the mall traffic, you can see the sign for yourself. The restored neon still hangs proudly above the Hillsboro Pike storefront. And if the sign alone doesn’t justify the venture, a few dozen treats from Fox’s bakery shelves are sure to make the jaunt seem worthwhile. No matter how frustrating that mall traffic can be.

 

Post written by: Natalie Hosselton

 

(To view an animated gif of the sign, click here.)

Harlow's Donuts

Before it was moved to Nashville, the famous sign belonged to Harlow’s in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Sources:

Blackwood, Suzanne Normand (2004, March 25) Donut Den: A delectable treat for many. The Tennessean.

“Donut Signs.” RoadsideArchitecture.com. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <http://www.agilitynut.com/sca/donuts3.html&gt;.

Williams, William. “Donut Den Dims the Lights after More than 30 Years.” Nashville City Paper. 13 Aug. 2009. Web. 04 May 2012. <http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/lifestyles/donut-den-dims-lights-after-more-30-years&gt;.

(sign photos found here.)

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Becker’s Bakery

27 Apr
Becker's Bakery

Donelson Location

Becker’s Bakery

2543 Lebanon Pike
Nashville, TN 37214

by Josh Rowe

Founded in 1925, Becker’s Bakery has been a part of the Nashville landscape since before the second world war. Initially opened in one location by Frank Anderson Becker at 12 Avenue South in Nashville and the second was opened in Old Hickory by Ed Becker (later moved to Donelson), the story of this bakery has been one of both change and continuity, stories of overwhelming success and heart-breaking failure and a story that is above all about a family and their commitment to quality made goods. They are committed to tradition in not only their goods, but also their aesthetic. Given that their clientele stretches back 81 years in my family alone, the reliability that tradition breeds seems to be a key to staying open for 87 years in a business that sees over half close in the first year.

Donelson

The consistency isn’t just in the rolls however. When the walls were painted yellow instead of blue some of their veteran customers were sure to let them know how the change made them feel. Even something as progressive as them allowing payment by check in 1996 was met with some resistance. Obviously they weren’t opposed to more diverse payment option, but the customers have literally grown up with this business and that is bond formed over decades. Though some change has occurred over time of course, the name for instance was originally Standard Baking Company for the Nashville location and Modern Baking Company at the Old Hickory/Donelson location. The bakeries have also been passed through the generations at least three times at each location. Sadly the advent of the package goods style of bakery found within your local mega-mart lead to the closing of the Nashville location on January 6th, 2004.

We can’t compete against a $3 pie… people aren’t willing to drive an extra 15 minutes to get a better product

Becker’s of Denelson has managed to adapt to the ever changing market better though. Raymond Becker and his wife Carolyn have managed to run a successful business in spite of the growth of multiple shopping centers around them. Both stores began from the same recipe book as well, so even though the one location is no longer around their legacy carries on. When the Nashville location closed Donelson received and influx of customers as well. People weren’t willing to stop having their Birthday cakes made by Becker’s just as they had for fifty years in the case of one customer. Kathrine Fletcher has been a customer for over 60 years and she has “got her my girls a cake for their birthday every year from here and my youngest just had her 52nd birthday” and if you ask Carolyn Becker then you’ll quickly find out that there is no reason that should change anytime soon.

Where the Magic Happens

Sources:
http://beckersbakery.com
Nashville Scene
Tennessean
Interview with Kathrine Fletcher

Weiss Liquors

20 Apr

Weiss Liquors

Weiss Liquors Neon Sign

824 Main St in East Nashville

By John Whitman

East Nashville is no stranger to iconic vintage neon, and the long stretch of businesses along Gallatin Road feature some fantastic old signage. From the northern edge of Nashville with Madison Bowling’s giant bowling pin neon, down to Weiss Liquors sitting just across the Cumberland from downtown, vintage signs abound, some in great condition and others rusted into disrepair. Weiss and their massive neon sign featuring an overturned jug pouring neon liquor drops has been at their current location of 824 Main street since 1961. When I lived down in lower East Nashville, Weiss was my liquor store of choice because it was walking distance from my apartment and showcased some of the sweetest staff and craziest clientele of any liquor store ever. Or as Janet S. of Nashville wrote on Weiss’ Yelp Page,

“Ahh, a great place for character observation. If you need book material, hang out in the cluster—k that is Weiss Carpark. Never a dull moment, but watch your fender, its a jigsaw puzzle getting out.”

Weiss has surely created a history for itself at its current location, but what many may not realize is that Weiss and its sign date back to the 1930s and earlier. Nicholas Weiss started his liquor business in downtown Nashville on North First Street in the 1890s. In the 1930s the business moved to 218 Meridian Street near the railroad tracks. It was here that Weiss purchased the neon sign. In the late 1950s Weiss moved to 4th and Main Street, but was quickly forced to relocate due expansion of I-24. As Kenneth Weiss, current owner and grandson of Nicholas, put it, “We didn’t have the asphalt down hardly, before we had to move.” As a result Weiss moved four blocks north to their current location in 1961. From what Kenneth can gather, Cummings Signs made the bulk of the sign in the 1930s, adding the large triangular arrows sometime in the 1940s. After moving to their current location, Weiss expanded by opening a next-door corner market in the fall of 1964. Like the newer market, the “Drive In” neon sign sitting atop that store dates back to 1964.

Weiss’ neon sign has been the backdrop for many a Nashville musician press photos as well as being featured in 2010’s Hollywood film Redemption Road. As Jennifer Justus noted in August 26, 2011’s Tennessean,

“In a scene from the film Redemption Road, actor Luke Perry leans against the hood of a car, channeling James Dean. But behind Perry, it’s not Los Angeles or a Warner Brothers set that we see. It’s the neon lights of the Weiss Liquors sign off Gallatin road in East Nashville.”

After a century, Weiss Liquors continues to thrive alongside its iconic, seventy year old neon.

Weiss Liquors

Weiss Liquors

Weiss Market

Weiss Liquors