A Sure Sign at Olneyville New York System in Providence

Bad news turns good as local craftspeople help the historic hot wiener joint restore their iconic neon sign.
New York System
Courtesy of New York System/ Instagram.

Bad news turned good at Olneyville New York System in Providence. This summer, the owner of the historic hot wieners joint learned the original, sixty-seven-year-old neon sign from 1954 had deteriorated so much that it could not be restored. Removing the neon would not save the iconic marker. “I always say how I think the secret to our success is keeping everything the same,” says owner Greg Stevens. “I was scared that its replacement wouldn’t be the same.” Stevens consulted with Shawn Gilheeney from Providence Painted Signs about what it would take to replicate the sign. Gilheeney tapped a group of local craftspeople to help, including neon techs Elizabeth Potenza and Geometric Folk. Neon fabrication was commissioned to Nebula Neon in Brooklyn, New York. Welding company Old Bristol Line Fabrication Company facilitated the work on the frame, and the Wurks wood, metal and print shop completed the aluminum fabrication. Steel Giraffe crane moved the original ten-foot, 600-pound behemoth and installed the new one. As the new sign was hoisted up to its rightful place, Gilheeney felt a sense of relief. “It was something I had been obsessing over to make sure it came out right,” he says. “It’s our mission to preserve sign painting as an art form and keep the tradition alive.” The switch flipped and the sign lit up again. Customers might not even notice anything has changed. “That first night the neon came back on, I was spellbound by how much it looked like the original,” Stevens says. 18 Plainfield St., Providence, 621-9500, olneyvillenewyorksystem.com