The news isn’t all bad for the North Shore. There’s still an impressive showing at the Cabot Street Cinema in Beverly, Steve’s Quality Market in Salem and Kappy’s in Danvers — and that’s only a few. There’s also the green and gold Pickled Onion Bar & Grille with light encircling and the well-known moving neon sign with a man eating noodles at the China Jade restaurant that can be seen from Route 128 in Beverly.
Hanson said he works with a number of business owners on the North Shore looking to preserve their neon signs, including Sunnyside Bowladrome.
“We used to make a million of them,” he said. “Every time one is taken down because they are old and falling apart a new one can’t be put up because of permitting. The only option is to refurbish, which can be costly.”
Hanson admitted neon can be a “nightmare” to maintain as compared to LED, but the natural glow and flare of neon can’t be replicated, he said. The letters of neon signs are made with glass tubing with neon and other gases flowing through them that illuminate with electricity, he said.
“You can make it look like neon, but when you put them side-by-side the neon is much brighter and more vibrant,” he said. “It just has a certain look that can’t be replicated by LED.”
Looking outside of the Star Sign offices on Rantoul Street, Hanson said he can see two neon signs: the Pickled Onion Bar & Grille sign and a “Liquors” sign at ChrisPy’s Liquors. The Pickled Onion sign was retrofitted in 2002 by Star Sign from the old Freddie’s Restaurant neon sign — a local landmark which greeted visitors to downtown Beverly for more than half a century.