Longtime readers of Free Keene will remember Isabelle Rose who made headlines when her Vietnamese food truck began accepting cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. For more than a year, Rose has been working hard on transitioning from food truck to full-service restaurant in downtown Keene! Unfortunately, the people calling themselves the “City of Keene” have decided to make Rose’s life much more difficult.
On Christmas Eve, Rose received a call from the new city manager, Elizabeth Dragon, who in a bid to apparently look more ridiculous than her predecessors, demanded Rose take down the recently-placed sign in the windows of her new location announcing her restaurant was coming soon… right next to city hall.
Why did Rose have to take down the sign? The city manager cited the city’s ridiculously restrictive and anti-business sign codes, but secondly the entire name of the business is now being targeted by the city gang. Rose had chosen the name “Pho Keene Great”, as her place will be serving the delicious pho noodle soups that made her food truck a hit with customers and brought much-needed ethnic flavor to Keene.
Rose says that Dragon told her the name of the business is “offensive and not appropriate” and wants to meet to discuss potential changes. Strange timing, considering the city manager was aware of the name back in February of 2018, since the city owns the property that Rose is renting and Rose sent Dragon an email with her business name in February and then signed a lease including the name of the restaurant in April.
Now all of a sudden “Pho Keene Great” is a problem? After the city has been paid rent for most of a year? After Rose has paid thousands of dollars renovating the space, working up signage and even t-shirts featuring her new logo? The shirts were already cool but now with the extra publicity thanks to the city’s stupidity, they are likely going to be a collector’s item! The good news is that as of this article’s writing, there are all sizes available, including ladies tees, exclusively at Route 101 Local Goods at 661 Marlboro St. in Keene! Get over there and get yours while you still can! Yes, you can also order them online.
By the way, the Sentinel only beat Free Keene to the story on this because at her request, I agreed to not break the news until after Rose’s meeting with Dragon, set to happen in the New Year, but apparently the Sentinel didn’t respect that request, so now I’m going ahead with the news since the Sentinel broke it. Rest assured, the ACLU is being contacted regarding this case, and Rose intends to fight for her freedom of speech.
Further, the City of Keene’s sign ordinance is ridiculous and should be abolished entirely, though some have even said that Pho Keene Great’s temporary sign, placed inside the windows, didn’t violate the city’s ordinances at all. However, on the down side, Rose is unfortunately under a lease with the city gang, which means she’s under greater restriction than even the normal insane city sign ordinances. That said, the city is still a municipal corporation and free speech should still have some weight here. It will be interesting to see how this case develops.
Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the real story on Pho Keene Great!