Given those naysayers among us who regularly malign or belittle Waco, we find it encouraging that George’s Restaurant and Catering in South Waco and Ambold’s Key & Lock downtown would add to recent murals the so-called “Flying W” logo. Because of its unique design and typeface, it has come to represent the city of Waco in strikingly positive fashion. And that’s the problem: The logo is trademarked and off limits to businesses, even when businesses undertake murals that seek to play off the very best of Waco.
As Trib staffer Mike Copeland notes in his Sunday story, George’s famous proprietor, Sammy Citrano, and his associates spent the better part of a year securing approval from honorees or their representatives to have their smiling mugs appear on the new George’s mural. No one thought City Hall might object to its trademark hovering above George Washington, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Yet shortly after the mural was unveiled in May, the city contacted George’s about trademark infringement. Oops. Ditto Ambold’s Key & Lock with its striking black and white mural greeting traffic coming down Franklin Avenue.
Killjoys? Maybe. Yet while we believe neither George’s nor Ambold’s would pursue anything that would embarrass the city of Waco, the city by the same token can’t risk allowing a precedent that might then allow, say, a less reputable business to similarly associate with the city via its logo. We’re not just talking about, say, a stripper joint plastering a trademarked city logo on its exterior but some business so poorly managed and unconcerned with customers and neighbors that it reflects badly on the city itself. And the potential for further embarrassment is rich, either from folks poking fun at our city’s trademarked logo linked to businesses of dubious merit or even involved in an ugly lawsuit.
Fortunately, Waco is fertile when it comes to iconic symbols begging for creative interpretation and celebration, beginning with the Waco Suspension Bridge. Indeed, muralist Tony Bryant, tapped by Ambold’s, thoughtfully employed the pedestrian bridge as a wonderful conduit to the future. As for George’s — well, we believe retired 54th State District Judge George Allen, a breakfast regular at George’s, would be perfect to replace the forbidden Flying W logo, neatly complementing the Georges already championed.