Lodi ice cream shop owners could be eating their words.
After painting “Eat Me” on the outer wall of their new business, House of Ice Cream, Roderick and Aminda Tyler have been subjected to scrutiny by city officials who say the business is violating municipal code outlining the city’s sign ordinance.
“There were several complaints that the city’s development department received about the sign. A lot of people felt it was inappropriate to have a sign like that so close to an elementary school,” city spokesman Jeff Hood said.
House of Ice Cream, located at 409 S. Cherokee Lane, is near Heritage Elementary School, where classes resumed on Tuesday following the summer break.
The large block letters were painted in white against a black wall, which Roderick Tyler said he did to serve as a backdrop for customers to pose and take pictures of their ice cream.
The couple, who also own House of Ice Cream in Stockton, have a reputation for developing one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors such as Horchata, Hot Cheeto, and Vietnamese Coffee, and turning those unique flavors into photo-worthy creations.
House of Ice Cream is known for its super-sweet toppings like cotton candy, doughnuts and concha sandwiches.
“People like to take pictures of their ice cream, (and the wall) was meant for Instagram followers that visit us and take pictures of our ice cream. I was bewildered by the city’s reaction,” Tyler said.
According to Tyler, he feels the message is being misconstrued.
“This (wall sign) has been up since we opened a few weeks ago (on July 20). I don’t know why the city is saying people are complaining. Most of the people that visit our shop have difficulty finding our shop, and the people that come don’t even know it (the sign) exists,” Tyler said.
Despite the Tylers’ intention, the term “Eat Me” is viewed by many to hold a vulgar connotation, which is what prompted the officials to reach out to Tyler and inform him the sign needed to meet the standards of the city’s sign ordinance.
Following an exchange between Tyler and Lodi City Planner Craig Hoffman, Tyler took to social media to ask residents if they thought the sign crossed the line.
While some online users sympathized with Tyler’s frustration, many felt the sign lacked context that would let people know it was an ice cream parlor and not just a raunchy message being painted on the side of the building.
“I have no problem removing it. At the end of the day this is about my business, and if this is what it takes for me to be successful and run my business, I’ll do it. It is not that big of a deal,” Tyler said.
Tyler said he has had an artist reach out to him that is willing to repaint the wall, without compensation.
“Our hope as a city is that they sell a lot of ice cream and their business does well,” Hood said.
Despite the city’s concern over the sign, Hood said this is not the first time the city has dealt with this issue, he said the city requires businesses to submit applications for their signs to ensure they comply with municipal code.