Sneak peek at Stella’s restaurant sign in Nevada City

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-7-34-58-amHere’s a sneak peek at the signage planned for Stella’s Mexican restaurant in Nevada City.

Stella’s is going to be on Broad Street where Las Katarinas was once located.

The owner of the business is Gerardo Torres.


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

21 thoughts on “Sneak peek at Stella’s restaurant sign in Nevada City”

  1. To say the least, this signage would have needed a lot of work in order to pass my vote be it used elsewhere or here in Quainty Town USA. There is nothing historical about it other than the fork and spoon used in its image. The colors are horrendously horrible and have no connection to the product. Had I been in town, this would have received a criticle comment or two and I would have sent it directly back to the drawing board. Had I been the business owner, I would have never settled for less. Sloppy at best. Then again, as an art major someone who is trained in graphic design, I do have extremely very high standards and a trained eye to see what most don’t. I should know better than expect something with class to happen here.

    Logo design in today’s world is totally under rated. People do not understand how important a good logo is and how valuable it is to their business. One should never try to cut corners and save money in this area and why your logo is not something you should take lightly. In broad terms, there are far too many “cheap logo designs” out there and within Nevada City in comparison to proper “professional logo design” and why professional logo designers do not charge such low fees. One should always invest in a professional logo design as it is the best investment on can make in a new business if they are looking for success. Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen. This was a chance to be creative and go the extra mile!

    To understand what a logo is meant to do, one must first must know what a logo is. Before you even design a logo, you must understand what a logo is, what it represents and what it is supposed to do. A logo is not just a mark – a logo reflects a business’s commercial brand via the use of shape, fonts, colour, and / or images. It is a good designers job to create a logo that will do its job. A logo’s design is for immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand, or economic entity, and its shapes, colours, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market.

    Missed the mark on this one, then again…this is Nevada City and a place where unfortunately businesses are looked upon as “pop-ups” rather than stationary in form.

  2. “A logo’s design is for immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. ”
    Kind of like the “professional logo design” for Fred’s or the equally successful Mine Shaft down the street? I will agree though, except for the words “Mexican Restaurant” the logo falls somewhat north of suggesting that an actual Mexican Restaurant resides within. However, IMHO, the food, ambience, price point and service is what will make or break Stella’s, not the logo.

  3. I would have liked to see some folk art in the logo like maybe a luchador or some sugar skulls.
    But it’s not my store.
    And yes, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting!
    Welcome Stella’s.

    1. Once again, Judith, you have the answer to someone else’s life. Delusional narcissism is a circus of its own. Luckily, since there is no self awareness involved or possible, so you won’t be offended.

  4. We artists have to take critique all the time Bruce.
    It makes us resilient.
    Gayle made some good points about logos, which are supposed to be prohibited in the downtown.
    Business owners want them anyway so they are here to stay.
    I see them as a personal thing like a calling card.
    From what I understand the signage best exemplifying the “mother-lode” mandate for this city’s look are the ones that reflect 19th century historic character and charm.
    I didn’t make the rules here, but if you plan on living here you have to understand that this is a unique town that is trying to stay that way instead of becoming part of the urban sprawl.
    We need to continue to offer our city guests a retreat from “the madding crowd”.
    We must all to try and do our part to offer a great experience for our visitors.
    That said, I have seen years of folks coming up wth signs, (remember “Stick It”?) and having them get rejected by the planners, sometimes over and over.
    Maybe there should be an artistic consultant and an archive, say at the Searles or the Foley, with enough material knowledge of 19th typeface and advertising art to help business owners research and come up with something wonderful that won’t get rejected.
    So much of our local government’s time gets wasted on talking about the the signs without the advantage of having much background understanding.
    There has to be a better way.
    Maybe signage approval should be held in a separate specialized body from the commission that deals with infrastructure, streets and buildings.

  5. Judith:

    You are correct when you say, “There has to be a better way” to deal with downtown signage. The solution is actually pretty darn simple. And it’s available today –– no need for new studies, new ordinances or new decision-making bodies.

    There is already an objective signage guide at City Hall, and for many years it served as the signage Bible. It’s titled “A Guideline for Signs –– Old Sacramento Historic District.” And I’m confident that City Hall still retains a copy for the public’s use:

    Granted, I served on the planning commission 25 years ago, but the direction given merchants in those “olden days” was simple: If you could find the graphic or font in the Old Sacramento book, it could be used on your sign.

    If it was not in the Old Sacramento guidelines, you had to present evidence through 19th century photos or 19th century newspapers showing the font style or graphic you wanted to use.

    That made the process objective and fair to all applicants. They knew what to expect from the planning commission (and city council on appeals) and so did local sign makers.

    A classic example was the original sign for Java John’s on Broad Street. When John and Niel first appeared before the planning commission, their preferred sign was denied because it included a coffee cup, and we felt the cup graphic was not a “historic business symbol” –– like a mortar & pestle for a drugstore, or scales of justice for an attorney.

    We told John and Niel that if they could find a coffee cup in the Old Sacramento guide, or in a local 19th century newspaper advertisement, we would allow it on their sign. Otherwise, they would need to resubmit for approval –– without the cup.

    Well, lo and behold, they did what we asked and appeared at the next commission meeting with evidence that a coffee cup qualified as a 19th century historic business symbol. Needless to say, their original sign request was approved.

    And at no time were “logos” allowed. That nonsense crept into sign approvals in the late 1990s and early 21st century. It was wrong then and it’s wrong today –– but it’s hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube once it’s been squeezed out. And very hard to correct such a pattern of approval if three or more council members think the planning commission is doing the right thing.

    If the current city council would give the planning commission direction to respect the sign ordinance and only allow historic business symbols and fonts found in the Old Sacramento guide or local 19th century newspaper ads, life would be so much simpler for everyone.

    For sure, this sign would not have been approved when us old-timers were the decision-makers. In fact, it wouldn’t have even made it through staff review. Instead, staff would have loaned the applicant a copy of the Old Sacramento book and suggested they work with their sign maker to create appropriate graphics and lettering (and color, for that matter).

    But that was then and this is now –– as I am so often reminded on this blog and elsewhere by folks who believe that individual taste should trump ordinances and past practices, and who believe that good intentions should have greater influence with decision-makers than the rule book.

    1. Hi Steve,
      I believe the Old Sac book has disappeared or was stopped being used. Gail should check on this .
      Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and have a Great New Year !!!

  6. I would agree that a seperate committe should be established that possess that critical artistic eye. This has been the responsibilty of past commissioners but my feeling is that this process no longer holds clout, especially since none of the new commissioners have yet to be given or supplied with ANY of the required knowledge or paperwork that describes the perimeters of the historical review or the ordinances which is to be recognized and followed. With that being said, without this historical knowledge being in front of them at all times, each pretty much relies on the city planners (staff’s) recommendation. John Parent who served on the planning commission for years, was the city historian. And as much as people criticize Laurie O, she too has done a terrific job as a historic overseer. Our new city planner comes freshly from the “county” and echos as much repeatedly in the decision making that takes place. In my mind, the political infrastructure of our city is broken. Once the crack in the door is discovered, it serves as a “pass go” on the game board. As a Mac user, I have also discovered that for many of us that use our iPads as quick reference, the Municipal Code has been programmed into Adobe Flash. iPads do not support this this software due to a disagreement between Steve Jobs and Adobe. Therefore, we are out of luck when looking for the written word. It wasn’t always this way but with the city’s new web page and the third party they use to manage the code, all is gone. I can bring the code up on my iPhone, but not all the information that a planning commission should have in their possession.

  7. Steve, the Old Sacramento material is good to have but somewhat limited in scope.
    I have always wondered why San Francisco couldn’t also provide signage information.
    After all, half of that city emptied into these hills during the gold rush and it certainly was an influence on Nevada City.
    If you consider signs like the one on The Stinking Rose in North Beach you add the possibility of more visual gaiety into the town’s period,”mother-lode” theme.
    Why not?

  8. There is word that the above signage was not acted upon at this last Thursday’s planning commissioners meeting. Because there are no archived or recorded PC meeting on the city’s website posted since this last October, I remain clueless. Therefore I retract all comments directed at the possible passage of such signage. If this item has truly not been heard and judged at the PC table, I have fallen subject and masterfully munipulated to the phenomenon that is sweeping the Internet…fake news. However, I do not retract the inner makings of the citys broken political infrastructure. Guess this is why I haven’t voiced an option in the last 4 months.

  9. Just curious, I am wondering how new ideas and design movements were incorporated into common usage in small towns and cities in California the 19th century?

    When the neo-gothic style declined as a major global design movement and was replaced by aestheticism and then Orientalism and art nouveau and arts and crafts did we approve the color and font changes that came with it?

    How did we control the intrusion of unwanted cultural and design influences in the 19th century?

    When Harpers went to full color illustrated covers and features in the 1880’s did the 19th century style change in newspaper advertising that is now the design guideline cross check being used or proposed to be used?

    When a makers mark or symbol intended to convey the message that a particular craft could be obtained under its sign shifted to an abstract conveyance of that message and was called a logo how did we control this invasion of our psychic link to our nostalgic past?

    Just curious because I am wondering why and how modernism was allowed to creep into our lives with the insidious influence of jazz, gender equity, Wright’s stark angles, and our dreaded use of steel, stone and glass?

  10. “We need to continue to offer our city guests a retreat from “the madding crowd”.

    I am having a hard time figuring out exactly what this means [yes, I get that Judith meant ‘maddening.]

    Do we really want to be a ‘retreat’?

    I may be a minority but I don’t want to be a ‘retreat’, I want to be a place where the new happens…where things are born…not where they go to rest. Rest is cool of course but do we want to brand our communities as the resting place or as the creating place?

  11. For your enjoyment, I give you …Nevada City Signage Guidelines!

    Regarding the colors proposed for the signage on the Stella’s application, the applicant said colors would be chosen from the Benjamin Moore ‘historical’ color pallete – but the colors they chose where from the Benjamin Moore ‘classic’ color palette. Perhaps, in this case, the applicant did not know there was a difference between ‘historical’ and ‘classic’.
    I do not know if the applicant provided sample chips of the paint colors – perhaps the color chips do not look the same as the colors (from an inkjet printer, I assume) on the graphic inlcuded in the application.

  12. Steven,
    Nice treatise on art evolution.
    You ought to try reading Hitler and the Artists, that one will really get you going.

    So, why can a retreat not also be a place of creative regeneration?
    My point is that this city operates under some very unique rules but they are not clear enough.
    Those rules need to be further defined and, in that way, broadened out creatively.
    Right now everything is pretty loose and therefore vulnerable to subjectivity and arbitrary decision making.
    It is well known that old timers and folks in charge here very much believe the historic character of the city is its main attraction.
    If that is the case, then there should be a concerted effort, with each new generation of leaders to define what that means.
    For instance, a new generation may recognize the need to remove all vehicles from street parking in the city and create sheltered, (ivy covered?) parking structures to house hundreds of heat trapping, or freezing, cars and trucks.
    They might value the idea of making Nevada City a walking town and would also be able to remove those starkly 20th century parking meters so the sidewalks could be widened, smoothed (especially nice for wheelchairs) and tree shaded.

    Nevada City will never be able to turn back the mother lode clock completely, otherwise the city would be all canvas tents and muddy streets full of horse dung.
    The main effort ought to be the retention of historic charm.
    “Charm” being the operative word.

    1. I have to admit I don’t get the “Hitler and the Artists” reference.

      I couldn’t agree with you more that with each new generation a new interpretation is going to occur and should. That was kind of the perhaps too subtle point of my design missive…that the lens we look at these issues through is constantly changing.

      But what I’m really pointing out is how palpable the tension between the old and the new seems to be in Nevada City and that how we respond to the changing lens is always a source of some humor to me.

  13. For everyones information, the signage was never discussed at the last planning commissions meeting on December 15th. We’ve all been duped and as all fake news does, it went kind of viral. However and great interplay and directive came forth and it’s nice to see that many of us do care about the lack of inner workings within our little city and how important it still is to standup for a cause.

  14. Judith, your last point about “the city operating under some very unique rules” couldn’t be more truthfully stated and something that has irked me for years. There are written city ordinances, which should be respected, however they have unfortunately been left like all written law, to the interpretation by one and only one city official to defend. This is how lawsuits come about and why the city is now being sued. If you have a room full of lawyers discussing a rainbow of topics, you’re always end up with mud as each has their own agenda.

    Your idea about there being a concerted effort with each new generation of leaders to define what the city’s history & character means to each individual is a brilliant idea. You’d think that we’d all be on the same page, but not so. If you’re a business owner, you are more than likely to have a completely different agenda in mind than an individual like myself who has been a long-time citizen and homeowner and renders the expectant preformance of our city government very differently. I’m progressive but very conservative when it comes down to our history. Once it’s changed, Pandora’s Box remains open for all to sample and it will be gone in no time at all.

    It’s sometimes questionable if we still live in a democratic society or not, especially after our last election. Tie a knot and hang on and by all means, please keep the dialog going to oppose all that seems objectionable. The only thing we still have going for ourselves is the freedom to speak.

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