“Funkytown Fermatorium” constituted advertising, so the city made Deep Ellum Brewing on University near West 7th paint over it. Facebook.

The founder of Deep Ellum Brewing Company received a letter from the city recently that might turn a lesser man to drink. Seems a city compliance officer took issue with a large painting outside the Dallas-based brewery’s new satellite brewpub on University Drive near the West 7th entertainment corridor. The new business is scheduled to open next month.

The brewpub owner said he has requested a variance, but city officials say they haven’t received it yet. Fort Worth sign ordinances allow murals (with certain restrictions) but not large advertisements painted on the side of a business. 

The painted words “Funkytown Fermatorium” constitute an ad, according to the city, because they’re just another way of identifying the business as a Fort Worth brewpub. John Reardon, Deep Ellum Brewing’s founder, took offense and shot back with a Facebook post last week.

Tropic Lady Web Ad (300 x 250 px)

“It’s absurd that it has to be repainted,” he wrote. Fort Worth is “not so funky after all.”

That last quip angered some would-be supporters, and the comment thread turned from sympathetic to combative. A few Fort Worth folks reminded Reardon that we welcome new businesses as long as they don’t question our funky credentials. 

“I’d suggest that you take your Dallas attitude back to Dallas,” one local posted in reply. 

Reardon has a reputation for speaking his mind. Normally, his bluster supports the local craft beer movement. Three years ago, he relied on his clout to file a still-unresolved lawsuit against the TABC to give production breweries the right to sell directly to consumers, something most states allow.

This time, Reardon edited his post and made several online apologies. 

“My choice of words was poor,” he said in reply to one comment. “We have nothing but love for Fort Worth.”

Reardon made the right move. Once you’ve been here a few years, you can complain about the city with the rest of us, but as a guest, show a little respect now. Sure, a compliance worker’s demand that you paint over the mural while you request a variance seems a bit petty. You’d think with a backlog of 500 building permits (see: bottom Static item), city officials might have bigger priorities than hunting down brightly painted ads — but rules are rules. Next time, maybe newcomers will investigate our fair city’s ordinances before spreading paint around and wasting good money.

Regardless, we’re excited to have Deep Ellum Brewing’s award-winning brews made here in Fort Worth with or without the mural. 


  1. In what universe is a business owner lobbing personal insults at potential customers on social media “doing the right thing?”

  2. Fort Worth sign ordinances are at:

    Rule 6.408 applies here. It limits sign size to 10% of its facade. The developer flubbed by not checking first. And bad-mouthing a code enforcement officer is like cussing out the cop who pulled you over — it’s not helpful. The 10% rule would mean nothing if a developer, having ingored it, were granted a variance. And here, it’s obvious from the photo that sign area is vastly more than 10%, and a variance is not justified.

    Interestingly, under the sign ordinance, if the developer replaced Fermatorium-Funkytown with a mural of pretty flowers, it would no longer be a “sign” because it would not be advertising anything. It would be only art. BUT CHECK WITH THE CITY FIRST.