New restaurant / new sign complaint

Cafe Pyala is the newest restaurant on Mission Boulevard. It’s also the latest Fremont business not thrilled about city sign laws.

Kisa Amin says the city ordered her and her husband remove their temporary A-Frame sign board and banner and also move the neon sign from the Mission Boulevard side of the Pakistani/Indian restaurant to the Pine Street side.

When they didn’t comply within a week, the city slapped them with a $100 fine.

Mission San Jose is a historic strict with strict rules about aesthetics.

Amin said business has been so-so since the restaurant opened five weeks ago across from Ohlone College. They’ve got a lot of student specials, and most of the meals are around $5.

Matt Artz


  1. It’s interesting who the City will go after. I have been complaining to Officer Civiletti of Code Inforcement, time and time again now for the last year about the people sell and preparing food on the sidewalk on Sunday infront of the Church of Corpus Christi(Second Street Niles). The last few times I called I can’t even get a call back.

  2. No credit for this matt? :[ I’ve been walking the owners of Cafe Pyala through some things and have been trying to help them for about a week now. Here is a letter from the owner:

    Hello Ishan,

    I spoke to you the other day. This is Sajid from Cafe Pyala. You know, I was thinking about it and thought maybe I could write to you with my concerns about operating business here in Fremont, particularly right here in the historic Mission district.

    The other day we were sent a notice that we needed to remove our temporary sign boards and banner, and also to move our neon sign from the Mission Blvd. side to the Pine street side of the restaurant. Though we were not happy to learn that we would be without what was some of our only marketing means, we did plan to remove the materials. The week passed, and being busy with other things, it slipped our mind, and when the materials were found to still be on premises, we were promptly hit with a $100 fine.

    I’m, first of all, perplexed by this, as at least two neighboring businesses have temporary A-frame signs posted on Mission Blvd., but my bigger concern is the fact that the city of Fremont seems to be working to hinder rather than help its fledgling small business owners.

    As I mentioned, I used to own a restaurant in downtown San Jose and (being a city constantly working to improve) the redevelopment agency members were not only accommodating to our needs and suggestions, they were always themselves suggesting ways that we could bring more business, take advantage of free marketing opportunities, etc. I’m just very disappointed that during our first month of business here, we were forced to do away with the very low-cost marketing materials that were within our budget at this time; and adding insult to injury, we were fined. One hundred dollars may not be a lot in the grand scheme of things, but in these tough times, it makes a big difference to a restaurant (very low profit margin as it it, as I’m sure you know) just trying to get off the ground.

    I’m not sure how it is that other businesses just blocks away are able to keep their A-frame boards posted. Perhaps the City of Fremont allows such things if the owners pay a fee; if that’s the case, they should not make the case in terms of preserving the integrity of the historical Mission district. They should–rather–just come out and say that they’d like money from us. Whatever the case, the experience has left something of a bad taste in my mouth during what has otherwise been a pleasant and relatively hassle-free restaurant launch.

    I realize you may not at all be in the position to address these concerns, but perhaps you can put me in touch with somebody who is in such a position (?). Either way, I enjoyed meeting you and thank you for taking the time to read my concerns. I wish you the best in your campaign.

    Sajid Amin

    Sajid is a very nice man who needs some help; I’m doing everything I can to put him in touch with the people who will get it to him.

  3. Thanks for catching that VOR. Its all good matt, this issue really isnt about me. Its about the small business owners here who can’t do what they need to do to stay afloat and make a living. I’m glad you wrote a post… we truly need more people like Sajid in our city, people who are willing to invest in areas that need to be invested in. Yet, instead of welcoming them we seem to be driving them away. Not gonna happen on my watch. The sign ordinance needs to be redone-period. Its going to be one of my priorities if I win in November.

  4. Ishan, while I understand Mr. Amin’s frustration, especially if similar type A-frame signs are being utilized close by, sign ordinances are adopted because unchecked people go overboard with signage. Drive the highways in the southeastern U.S., within city limits and you are overwhelmed by what I refer to as visual diarrhea. It is impossible to see anything because one business sign tries to outdo the next. No sign ordinances in effect whatsoever.

    Without knowing all the circumstances I pose several questions; was Mr. Amin’s A-frame sign of relatively the same size as the others? Do the other stores take their signs in when they close? Does a curb side sign impede pedestrian traffic?

    I don’t agree with the fine being imposed so quickly. Seems rather Draconian.

  5. I believe that his sign was actually smaller! Not to mention he got another fine for his “Open” sign facing towards mission blvd. That one is actually in his restaurant…

    I know what you mean by the overdone signage though… I one saw an inflated gorilla on the sidewalk of an arizona liquor store…the thing was bigger than the actual building and spilled into the street >.<

    I don't mean an abolishment of the ordinance, I mean a revision that would be friendler to small business owners like Mr. Amin.

  6. Like Glenn says, now I’ll have to go there for dinner after hearing about the restaurant here.

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