‘Gets under your skin.’ Plaza’s iconic Penguin Drive-In sign comes down


PLAZA MIDWOOD (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – The iconic Penguin sign in Plaza Midwood is being removed.

“I don’t understand why they are taking it down,” life-long Charlotte resident John Ross said.

For those who have called Charlotte their home for their entire lives, saying goodbye to a part of their history can be hard to swallow.

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“I mean everything around here has just been wiped out… it doesn’t mean anything to the builders,” Ross said.

But they do mean something to Christopher Lawing, who devoted seven years of his life documenting Charlotte’s most historic signs.

“It’s really been a fun project getting to know people, really getting to know the community in a deeper way,” author and historian Christopher Lawing said.  “Not only was it just a really good imagery, how many signs have a penguin on them?  That’s pretty cool.  But it was also the personal connection.”

Others in the community also feel a personal connection to the spot.

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“You can’t really buy what we had there. It’s the people and the atmosphere.  It was just magic; you can’t really recreate that,” one of the former owners of the Penguin Jeremy King said.

What he did create was the new and improves logo that has stood tall over the Plaza Midwood neighborhood since the early 2000s.

“I had an old ice chest that had that bird on it, and I put the little red eye in because it is a bar and we went from there,” King said.

His business was taken over in 2014.  It was most recently bought by the owners of Calle Sol Latin Café, who will be donating the sign the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association.

The associations said parts of the signs will be given to the Charlotte History Museum and the Plaza Midwood Park.

“You grow up with something like that and see it torn down, of course, it gets under your skin, but after a while, you just have to accept it,” Ross said.

The Calle Sol Latin Café is holding an event Friday at 3:30 p.m. as a final goodbye to the sign.


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