Sunday, August 19, 2007

Smoky Hearth owners explain Billboard ad

Last week I wrote urging that you "vote" on Oregon's proliferation of billboards since the passage of Measure 37. You can cast at least one vote by emailing the owners of one billboard message. The billboard's "tenants" are Don & Jeannine Hokanson of Smoky Hearth Pizza, whose sign looms over U.S. 26 outside Sandy. Don's e-mail is

Back in June, the Hokansons wrote the following letter to those who complained about their sign. I thought you might find it interesting and indicative of the couple's possible openness to reconsider.

Re: Smoky Hearth’s Billboard Advertisement
Dear Customer and Community Member,

Thank you for your comments regarding our advertisement on the new billboards off Hwy 26. Jeannine and I appreciate your concern for the corridor between Gresham and Sandy and recognize that it is only by community concern and direct involvement that such corridors can be protected.

Unfortunately, Measure 37 has had some unintended consequences for all of us, – including the new billboards. We would have preferred not to have billboards there. Perhaps someday decisions will be reversed and the boards will be removed. It is unlikely that the owner and operator will remove them willingly because of a local public boycott since most of the advertisers are state or national accounts and the signs are booked for several months in advance. We should point out that Smoky Hearth is not affiliated with either the billboard advertising company or the landowner. We are merely a client of the advertising company.

As you know, we pride ourselves on serving one of the best pizzas to be found anywhere in Portland and we strive to please every customer. We treasure referrals because they have been the key to our growth. We have been in business for two and a half years now and community support for our restaurant has been great, but our growth has not been as good as it needs to be. Smoky Hearth must grow in order to become financially viable. Since we are tucked in by the Cinema and off the highway, we are not able to get our name and message to the majority of the 50,000 people who travel on Highway 26 each day.

A billboard on the highway appeared like the only answer to achieving the growth we need to stay in Sandy. We understand that many of our customers will not like the billboard and some will decide not to return. We wished we had a better solution, but due to restrictive sign ordinances within Sandy, the billboard seemed like our only cost effective solution.

We appreciate your comments and hope that you understand a little better why we placed the advertisement. We hope that sometime in the future, we might see you in the restaurant again. Either way, we will remain fellow citizens committed to our community, our environment and our children.

Very Truly,

Don & Jeannine Hokanson
Owners, Managers

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