Lee’s Summit deli has a mural that city is trying to remove

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A mural painted on the side of a deli in Lee's Summit has sparked a debate.

Tuesday was another busy day at 'Bout Thyme Deli because of the lunch crowd. The deli's been open for nearly five months and going strong. Nicole Ohora, who works at the deli , credits the success to a certain sandwich.

It’s the one painted right outside the building on Douglas Street.

Dave Kemp commissioned an artist to paint the mural without a permit. He said he didn't fill out an application because it required a description of the art, which he didn't have until it was finished.

Kemp said he intended to take a picture of it and take it to the city council, but the city immediately notified him to paint over the sign almost a week later.

He is reluctant to comply because it's a way to keep his business alive and it's working.

"It has given us a little bit more visibility, which is great because a lot of small town businesses like this just don't make it because they just don't have the public face that they need in order to be successful," Ohora added.

The paint job also goes against a city ordinance which does not allow murals to advertise. The city says if there's a commercial message, then it's not considered public art. But it doesn’t seem to bother some customers.

"It's a sandwich, I mean, I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate the rules set forth for businesses in the area, but to me it fits," said Gabriel Abreo, a frequent customer.

That's not the only concern. Maintenance is also a key issue.

"Over time the sign could become less attractive, paint comes off after a while. They don't want it defacing downtown," Ohora said.

Ohora thinks upkeep shouldn't be a problem because it's there to usher people in. To be fair, the city extended the lifeline of the mural to allow for public opinion.

A public forum concerning the mural started at 5 p.m.

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