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Seven-foot neon penguin glows again at Warsaw's Penguin Point

A Warsaw landmark recently received new life after spending more than a decade in the dark.

Repair work was completed Wednesday, July 1, on the seven-foot-tall penguin perched atop regional fast food chain Penguin Point’s corporate headquarters, located at 2691 U.S. 30.

The sign’s neon glow had greeted motorists since the mid-60s, but over time, Penguin Point president Wes Stouder said, the cost of operating such a large sign became too much for the independent chain now celebrating its 65th anniversary. 

“It was such a high-maintenance cost that we moved away from it,” Stouder said. “Neon is extremely fragile. One of our reasons for deciding to try again at the home office, while we were constantly having problems with breakage, is the heavier style of neon is now available. It’s more resistant.” 

Stouder cited the convenient timing of a corporate surplus as an additional prompt to restore the sign.  

“We’ve had some changes in structure and we had the available funds to attend to it. Whenever we had excess funds, it was spent in the field. We would buy restaurant equipment or remodel a store — do things that were going to reach our customers more directly,” Stouder said. “And we had an opportunity to get this sign repaired, we had the funds to do it this year and so we pulled the trigger.”

Repairs to the neon tubing, transformers and electrical components – all performed by Johnson Brothers Signs in South Whitley – took about six weeks to complete.

Stouder declined to comment when asked about the total cost of repairs.

Les Cripe of Johnson Brothers Signs said he received a call on July 7, notifying him of an electrical issue with the sign which is now temporarily inoperable. Cripe expects the sign to be running again soon, but said he wasn’t sure exactly when that would be.

“Being one of the last regional independent restaurant chains is a pretty daunting task in today’s environment,” Stouder said. “And to know that there are people who care about those little things is very gratifying and motivating for our people and certainly for us.”

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