Local News

Art or ad? Owner of Wilson restaurant may be forced to remove massive mural

Posted May 29

— The owner of a bar and restaurant in Wilson says the city is painting too broad a brush over his new mural.

Morkos Youssef said he hired an artist friend to create a mural on the side of his restaurant, Brewmasters. It is 12 feet by 85 feet of cinder block that is now transformed into a work of art.

But the city said the mural serves as an advertisement because it spells out the name of the restaurant in big, bold letters.

Under city code, the maximum size for a wall sign is 250 square feet. The one on Youssef's restaurant is four times the size.

Jill Cain, a regular at Brewmasters, said the new mural is a head turner.

"When you come down, you're like, 'Oh, wow, look at that,'" Cain said. "It makes you stop. You're like, 'That's comforting.'"

Wilson's zoning administrator, Rodger Lentz, says the mural alone is entirely fine.

"Regardless of how artistically or creatively it is done, the placement of the name of a business on a wall of that business serves as an advertisement for that business," Lentz said in a statement.

He said that despite the mural's popularity, "the ordinance must be applied fairly and consistently."

"Out of thousands that have commented, the overwhelming majority are for it because it feels like Wilson has dubbed itself as friendly to the arts," Youssef said.

Youssef is appealing the decision to the city's board of adjustment. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.


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  • Jim Frei May 30, 3:39 p.m.
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    Really, Wilson? Crime isn't a priority in your town?

    Looks like art to me.

  • Albert Holmes May 30, 12:33 p.m.
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    You would think Wilson would have more to worry about than a mural on the side of the building, I could see if it were offensive !

  • Catherine Edwards May 30, 9:36 a.m.
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    They just need to fill in the name of the business with art and the mural can stay.

  • Jj Parker May 30, 7:38 a.m.
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    If the name of the place is within the artwork then its advertisment. Plain and simple. The owner and artist should have checked with the city before the artwork was started.

  • Henry Davis May 29, 9:49 p.m.
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    Overstepping . They just want to have more control of people.

  • Len White May 29, 9:00 p.m.
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    So, from reading the complaint, it seems that the name of the business is the pivot point of the town's objection, that is, if the name of the business is in the ‘artwork’ then it’s advertising….

    Good and well. Chances are that the Law is on their side – clearly the name of the business is, in fact, in the artwork.

    Suggestion: Change the name of the business….