Danville, Illinois-based Watchfire Signs, a provider of exterior and interior LED signs, was selected by Fisherman’s Inn in Grasonville, Maryland, to manufacture a digital display as part of a new sign for the 90-year-old restaurant. The sign helped in the restaurant’s successful reopening following the state’s mandatory COVID-19 shutdown.
Since 1930, Fisherman’s Inn is the go-to place for fresh seafood on the Chesapeake Bay and is open year-round. The Crab Deck, an outdoor dining area that opened in 1991, along with the adjacent Seafood Market, are open April through October to take advantage of seasonal demand.
When the pandemic hit in March, Fisherman’s Inn was forced to close and delay the seasonal opening of the Crab Deck, which reopened for carryout, and eventually outdoor dining, in May.
“The Watchfire sign allowed us to change up our messages as we opened in phases,” says Andy Schulz, co-owner of the restaurant with his two brothers. “When it came time to open the Seafood Market and Crab Deck, we cranked up the sign, so people knew we were open for carry out, and then we were able to add messages when outdoor dining resumed. Finally, when indoor dining was allowed, we advertised that Fisherman’s Inn was finally open. We couldn’t have picked a better time to have the digital sign. Customers stopped in just because they saw the sign and knew we were open.”
Phillips Signs Inc. designed the new landmark sign, which includes the Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck logos above a 5’4” X 10’3” 8mm high-resolution Watchfire LED display. The tight pixel pitch of the sign allows the restaurant to display photos and graphics that showcase the meals and beverages inside.
Schulz looked at several sign companies and ideas before giving the business to Phillips Signs. “I didn’t just want to plunk a message center in an old sign; I was looking for a new design. This was a big investment for us, and I wanted it done right,” adds Schulz.