APEX — Timothy McCrimmon bought Chevy’s Ale House in March with dreams of converting the restaurant into a thriving family-friendly hangout with homemade food.
In theory, opening a new restaurant at the site of an existing restaurant seemed like an easy proposition. But six months later, McCrimmon is a frustrated business owner worn out by struggles with town and county inspections, permitting and sign regulations.
“My impression is Apex doesn’t want me here,” he said.
The town of Apex and the Apex Chamber of Commerce realize that new business owners have questions about everything from zoning to sign rules to inspections. In response, they have partnered to put on a free workshop Sept. 18 at The Halle Cultural Arts Center.
The workshop will feature a general information session followed by breakout sessions addressing specific questions and issues, said Graham Wilson, executive director of the chamber.
“We get so many phone calls about town regulations and how to start a business,” Wilson said. “We’re hoping for two things: One, that people can gain a better understanding of what you can and can’t do. And two, that it will give the town a better understanding of the issues that businesses have.”
The chamber has fielded a lot of calls about sign rules. In McCrimmon’s case, he wanted to rename the restaurant and put up a new sign.
He was told that as a new business he fell under the town’s new sign rules and would only be allowed to put up a smaller sign. McCrimmon said he already struggles to attract business with the existing sign.
“I hear all the time when people come in – they say, ‘I didn’t know you were here,’” he said. “My biggest problem is a lack of ability to communicate with my prime marketing channel, (N.C.)Highway 55. This is not me trying to deface the highway. It’s me talking to an audience of about 30,000 who drive by Highway 55 every day.”