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Renovated Nelson's Buffeteria Sign To Hang In New Home

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The owners of Nelson's Buffeteria got special permission to hang an old school neon sign at its new location. The owners of Nelson's Buffeteria got special permission to hang an old school neon sign at its new location.
Matt Johnson is the neon artist who will restore the sign. Matt Johnson is the neon artist who will restore the sign.
The sign is part of Tulsa's downtown restaurant history. The sign is part of Tulsa's downtown restaurant history.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Nelson's Buffeteria was a downtown Tulsa breakfast and lunchtime landmark. It closed almost ten years ago, but reopened on South Memorial in January.

The family wants to hang the old Buffeteria sign at the new place - but that's turning out to be quite a chore.

Matt Johnson is bending some glass for a sign at Acura Neon. He's got his work cut out for him over the next few weeks.

Acura is renovating the old Nelson's Buffeteria sign, and it's gonna be a project.

"First of all there's old paint, there's old neon and there's old electrical," said Peter Janzen of Acura Neon.

So basically they'll be starting over almost from scratch.

"We'll be rewiring it and doing all new neon," Janzen said.

They'll re-do the paint too. The sign is part of Tulsa's downtown restaurant history. It hung out front of the Buffeteria on South Boston for decades. They celebrated their 70th anniversary in 1999.

The Buffeteria closed in December of 2003 and the sign was taken down the following summer. Since then it's been in storage.

When the family decided to open a new Nelson's Buffeteria out on south memorial they naturally wanted the old sign, but -

"This sign is non-compliant with the current City of Tulsa code," Janzen said.

They could have created something new in the old design with modern LED lights, but -

"There's something magical about neon," he said.

So, they went to the city with a request for an exception. That's been approved, so now they can get to work on paint and the wiring. Matt Johnson can begin to bending glass for the sign.

"Our goal is to do as little as possible," Janzen said.

They want to make it look original. So the new place at 44th and Memorial will have a bit of the old place.

The restaurant, near 44th and Memorial, is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch.

And, so you won't be confused, Nelson's Ranch House on Third Street is part of the family too.

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