AP NEWS

Springfield owner amuses his customers with quirky messages

March 18, 2019

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — Scott Murphy took a pair milk crates filled with letters and dumped them in the snow.

He laid the letters out and used a long letter changer pole to place them on the two sides of the marquee in front of his business, Mr. Don’s Restaurant in Springfield.

The sign reads, “ROLLIN DOWN THE STREET EATING ANGUS BEEF SIPPING ON A LEPRECHAUN SHAKE,” a parody a Snoop Dogg song.

″‘Gin and Juice’ is one of the longer ones I’ve put up in a long time,” Murphy explained to the Battle Creek Enquirer. “People say ‘You should get a digital sign.’ I don’t want the headache of it breaking down all the time. Plus, there is some charm to being out there and putting letters up.”

Murphy has been posting humorous messages with pop culture references since he and his wife, Kim, bought Mr. Don’s in 2010.

Before that, the foundation for the quirky signs was laid by his brother-in-law and business neighbor, Jason Taft.

Taft is Murphy’s predecessor as the former owner of Mr. Don’s. He now owns Maudie’s Laundromat next door. He, too, uses his business’ marquee to share humorous messages.

“We’ve gone viral coast-to-coast several times,” Taft said. “Ones that are kind of edgy are the ones people love: ‘You skid, we rid.’ ‘Skid marks, we fix those.’ Those ones get people stopping in the middle of the road and creating a disturbance, taking photos out their windows.”

Don Taft, the original ‘Mr. Don,’ opened the city’s first fast-food restaurant in the 1950s. His son, George Taft, ran the business until 2001, when he sold it to his son, Jason. In 2006, Jason Taft switched gears and purchased the laundromat next door, which was named after its original owner, his maternal grandmother.

“It became quickly apparent to me that the laundromat business, people knew inherently,” Jason Taft said. “There wasn’t anything we did specifically that our competitors didn’t do. We use the same machines, same capacity, same water, same gas. So what can we do do differentiate ourselves? So I thought, well, I’ll use my humor.”

Both Taft and Murphy admit that some of the messages that have graced their marquees have pushed the envelope of good taste, “DROP YOUR PANTS HERE,” for example, or, on Mr. Don’s, “OUR NUGGETS ARE BIGGER THAN THEIRS.”

A more recent sign in front of Maudie’s Laundromat referenced a Dr. Dre song, “MR. NUTS WASHES HERE SO DOES HIS SON DEEZ.”

“We try and push the limit to the point of not being disrespectful,” Taft said. “If you take offense to one of our signs, you are not getting it. You are taking it in a way that shouldn’t be taken. I’m not doing it to be offensive or in malice, so if they take it wrong, it’s on them. You’ve got your socks wound too tight.”

Their messages can also be obscure.

One that Murphy posted in front of Mr. Don’s read, “LEMONADE THAT COOL REFRESHING DRINK.” It was a reference to the Eddie Murphy 1983 comedy special “Delirious” in a bit about Elvis Presley’s inability to act, so he just sang all his lines in his movies.

“Sometimes, it just pops in my head,” Murphy said. “I’ll be listening to a song in the kitchen and change the lyrics to fit in chili dogs or something. I try to keep it current too. During that whole Pokemon Go craze, I said, ‘STOP HERE AND MAYBE PIKACHU WILL EATWICHU.’”

Taft says as many as 15,000 cars pass by their businesses each day, and the signs simply aim to draw the attention of potential customers. He also noted that the marquees present a creative outlet for the two of them, although there are some things that only one of them can get away with given Murphy works in the food industry.

“He’s in the intake business, I’m in the outtake business,” Taft said. “So, I deal with things on a different end then he does. Literally.”

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Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer, http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com

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