Randy’s Donuts is projected to open their new Costa Mesa location in January after stalled approval for the store’s sign disrupted the initial plan to open around Thanksgiving.
The original location in Inglewood opened in 1954, and its iconic 32-foot-tall donut sign is considered to be a landmark of Los Angeles. The infamous sign has been featured in movies like “Iron Man” and referenced in shows like “The Simpsons,” adding to the shop’s popularity and growing fan base. The sign sits on top of the shop in Inglewood, making it visible from a mile away.
The company has since expanded to six locations in California and one in South Korea, with plans to open three more stores in Southern California. Each location shows tribute to the original by having a form of the sign at or near the store’s entrance.
“Anyone who’s familiar with our brand knows our doughnut is our identity — it’s our soul,” Mark Kelegian, owner of Randy’s Donuts, said in an interview with the LA Times.
When expanding to Costa Mesa, Kelegian faced challenges with the city’s signage regulations. The shop’s location sits on Harbor Boulevard where the sign ordinance states that new signs must be under 30 feet tall and no larger than 89 square feet in dimensions. However, the boulevard has older buildings that were not restricted by these new regulations, with signage around 45 feet tall.
Kelegian submitted a proposal in adherence to the parameters of Costa Mesa’s sign ordinance, and requested a 16-foot donut to be placed on top of two 7-foot poles right outside the shop next to the sidewalk.
Despite the sign meeting all regulations, the proposal was not approved by the city commissioners.
“It just does not look attractive to me. I’m concerned this would end up being an ugly sign along our major arterial. Having a doughnut sign like this on top of a building, at least in my mind, would be preferential,” Costa Mesa City Commissioner Jon Zich said in an interview with the LA Times.
In response to Zich, Kelegian proposed a doughnut sign on the roof. The proposed sign was estimated to be at least 26 feet in diameter and 25 feet tall, which, added to the 20-foot height of the building, would breach city regulations.
The proposal was unanimously approved on Nov. 23. City commissioners found the roof signage to be preferable to the sidewalk sign, which would have obstructed the line of sight for drivers on the boulevard. No appeals were filed on Monday, Nov. 30, making the decision final.
“I was hopeful a solution like this was possible. Taking on a business like the Jack in the Box location and turning it into what is really a Southern California iconic business — I think we’re lucky to have that kind of business make that kind of investment in the city,” Zich said in an interview with the LA Times.
The sign alone is estimated to cost the company $150,000, not including the costs of hoisting the 15,000 pound sign into place.
“We consider it money well spent, because it’s part of our identity, part of who we are. And, from a marketing standpoint, it beats the heck out of a billboard,” Kelegian said in response to the sign’s costs.
Amy Duong is a City News Intern for the 2020 fall quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com.