In times of trouble, you find yourself looking for a sign.
But you probably weren’t expecting these signs.
“3 things that never lie: Small children. Drunk people. Yoga pants.”
“Doing crunches twice a day now. Captain in the AM. Nestle in the PM.”
“Funny how 8 cups of H2O a day is absurd, but 8 beers in 2 hours drops like a fat kid on a seesaw.”
“Dear Michigan football, be sure to wish Ohio State happy Father’s Day.”
That’s the joy of heading west on North Street near Mercy Health-St. Rita’s, when you glance over at Mulligans Bar, 702 W. North St., Lima. They’re so unexpected.
These are the handiwork of Nick Lepley, the “sign guy” at Mulligans. The east-facing side of the sign shares the bands playing or specials that weekend, and the other offers a chuckle.
“For me, it was kind of right when the whole pandemic started, just a way to put a smile on people’s faces,” Lepley said. “Keep them positive with all the negative that’s going around.”
Sometimes it means people have to drive by it a few times, said Christine Franklin, the owner of Mulligans.
“They purposely drive by here to see the sign,” she said. “Like literally people say they had to go around the block so they knew they read it right, or they want to get caught by the red light so they can take pictures of it.”
There are plenty of interactions from fans on their Facebook page, facebook.com/mulligansb. They’ll also get phone calls at the bar.
Franklin recalled one conversation after this one was on the sign: “I changed all my passwords to Kenny. I have all Kenny Loggins.”
“I had a gentleman call me, and he’s like, ‘You should not put your password on the sign.’ I’m like, ‘What?’” Franklin recalled. “He was like, ‘That puts you in the ‘Danger Zone.’ I was cracking up. It is so funny. It’s hilarious.”
There are limits to the roughly 15 words of comedy they can fit on the sign. That’s even less than you get on Twitter.
Lepley said they try to keep it PG-13 and avoid hot topics like politics. When he has an idea, he texts it to Franklin to get clearance before laying out the letters on tables at the bar, putting a ladder up outside and updating the sign.
He really enjoyed putting “free beer tomorrow” on the sign once. Any time someone came into the bar to collect that free beer, they’d reiterate what the sign said, that there’d be free beer tomorrow.
Sometimes they’re more autobiographical, like when Lepley put “Divorce is expensive but totally worth it” on the sign shortly after his own breakup.
The sign jokes started from humble beginnings. When the bar moved into the former China Gate space, all it had were the letters for the word “now closed.” Over time, they’ve bought milk crates full of letters. Sometimes Lepley still has to get creative. He’ll pair together Ls and put them upside-down to make Ts, for instance.
It’s often a collaborative process, with people at the bar sharing ideas or funny sayings they’d seen online from places like El Arroyo, an Austin, Texas, restaurant famous for its creative signs. Then it’s up to Lepley to figure out how to share it using the limited space he has available on the sign.
“There’s only so much space, so most of them are paraphrased,” Lepley said. “Then I also have to figure out, OK, if I’ve got to take some of these words out, how can I keep it funny? … I would say honestly maybe 30% of them are probably out of my brain.”
They’re a gift to the community, and we should all be grateful for that.
“We could use that side for advertising specials — this, that or the other,” Franklin said. “This gives way more. Way more.”
By David Trinko
The Lima News
ONLY ON LIMAOHIO.COM
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