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Downtown sub shop closes doors

July 07, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Chubb Chubb and his downtown sub shop are a memory now.

After an ongoing controversy between the owners of Fat Boys Subs and Charles Town officials about how the sub shop could use the cartoon figure named Chubb Chubb, owners of the business have decided to leave town.

Shop owners moved out of their location June 15, and all the equipment now is in storage, said Craig Ricketts, who ran the shop with his brother and sister-in-law.

Ricketts said he and his family do not plan to reopen - at least for now.

"Someday maybe. Somewhere else," Ricketts said.

Chubb Chubb, a plump sub-munching character who was used to promote the sub shop, was the center of controversy as owners of the business tried to find an acceptable spot for him to be used.

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The shop had a poster of the cartoon figure, which showed Chubb Chubb with his stomach hanging below his T-shirt as he gets ready to munch down on a sub.

When the shop at 219 W. Washington St. opened, owners of the business and the city's Historic Landmarks Commission entered into an agreement that prohibited the caricature from being used outside the business.

The downtown area was designated as a historical district about five years ago and the city wants to have business signs that are appropriate for the area, Mayor Randy Hilton has said.

After the agreement between the city and Fat Boys was made, the Chubb Chubb character was hung inside the front window of the business, which prompted city officials to remind shop owners about their agreement.

The cartoon figure was moved about 4 feet from the window, but city building inspector Scott Coyle said it still was not back far enough.

At one point, shop owners received a letter from the city saying the business was in violation of the zoning ordinance because of the sign's visibility and that violations of the ordinance are punishable by a possible fine of $500 or imprisonment in Eastern Regional Jail for no more than six months.

The logo eventually was moved to an inside door in the middle of the store and sub shop owners said they did not hear anything from city officials for months.

Then, during the city's $7.1 million revitalization of the downtown shopping area, sub shop owners decided to put the logo back in the front window.

Business was down during the work and shop owners felt city officials would not worry about the sign, considering all of the activity going on.

Fat Boys owners received another letter from the city saying the business could be fined up to $300 per day for each day the Chubb Chubb logo was in the front window. Chubb Chubb was taken down.

Last week, Craig Ricketts said he has returned to the computer job he had before opening Fat Boys.

Looking back, Ricketts said he felt the city was stiff and inflexible in dealing with his store.

Hilton said Sunday he did not believe the city did anything wrong in how it dealt with the sub shop.

Hilton said he believed the controversy over the shop's sign was "minor and overblown."

Council members Geraldine Willingham and Russell Miller declined to comment, saying it was strictly a Historical Landmarks Commission issue.




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