By Bob Uphues
Even if you don't know the name of Tony's Family restaurant on Ogden Avenue in Brookfield, you know where it is. It's the place with the cow on the roof.
That's the kind of automatic association the owners of Beach Avenue BBQ, soon to open at 3453 Grand Blvd. at Eight Corners, are looking to promote by placing a 3-by-5-foot, fire engine-red Fiberglas pig atop the roof of the business.
Eight Corners in Brookfield is not the easiest piece of real estate in the village to navigate, with four collector routes – Washington, Grand, Maple and Broadway – forming the eight points that frame the Veterans Memorial Circle where they all meet.
"People navigate by landmarks," said Beach Avenue BBQ co-owner Christopher Chinn. "If we can say it has a red pig on the roof, that makes the business eye-catching and easy to find."
Chinn said the pig went up on the roof in early January, but it's not officially legal from a code perspective. Although a prior building department director gave Chinn the impression that the pig would be allowable, the planning staff in place today consider the pig a sign.
And because roof signs are not allowed in the Eight Corners business district, Beach Avenue BBQ needs a zoning variance for the pig to remain atop the restaurant. The variance request will be considered at the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.
Chinn said he's cautiously optimistic about the pig's chances.
"It's been up there since December-January," Chinn said. "I don't feel it's going to be a problem."
Should the Planning and Zoning Commission recommend the variance for the rooftop sign, the village board would discuss the matter at its March 9 meeting and vote on the recommendation on March 23.
It's been almost a year since Chinn and his partner, Juan Silva, leased the former Lagori's diner space at the corner flanked on either side by Grand Boulevard and Maple Avenue.
In the intervening months, the duo has completely built out the interior, which was damaged by a 2017 fire, installing new electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems and making room for two smokers – one for cooking whole hogs and another wood-fired smoker that will handle the rest of the meat products, from brisket to ribs, chicken and sausages.
The restaurant has a seating capacity of about 45, with bar seating in front of a galley kitchen on the east side of the building. Bench seating at tables are along the north and west sides of the dining area.
Final inspections are still pending. As soon as they get the village's final OK, Chinn and Silva would begin the process of ordering products and moving toward opening Beach Avenue BBQ as soon as possible – red pig or no red pig.
Chinn said the restaurant could open its doors sometime in March, if all goes well.