Terry Trobiani, who runs Gianelli’s, a hot dog and beef spot along Highway 176 in Prairie Grove, McHenry County, says he was ticketed for "improper display" after a village administrator recently stopped by, according to FOX 32 of Chicago.
"He says, ‘You might want to read this,’" Trobiani recalled the official saying as he was handed a printout of the local rules.
But Trobiani so far has refused to pay, FOX 32 reported. Instead, he took the two tickets he received and taped them to the restaurant’s front door.
"The American flag is a symbol of patriotism," Trobiani said. "It’s not a sign. They’re equating it with open/closed. Dine in, sign out."
Doug Underwood, the village president in Prairie Grove – about 52 miles northwest of Chicago, near the Wisconsin state line – told FOX 32 that the fines have nothing to do with patriotism. He claimed Trobiani was ticketed for posting his flag too close to the highway – and officials feared the flag could eventually be blown into traffic.
"I love the United States flag. I’m a patriot myself," Underwood told the station.
The official also accused Trobiani of using the American flag to promote his business.
"I think it’s disgraceful," Underwood told FOX 32, "because he’s using the American flag as a tool to further his business interests."
Trobiani has a date to appear at the local courthouse next month regarding the allegations against him, FOX 32 reported.
Meantime, he said, he has been receiving lots of support from the community.
People have been showing up, waving their own flags outside his business, and last weekend about 50 people showed up "with trucks, horns, speakers, signs … ‘Support Small Business,’ ‘Support the American Flag,’" he told FOX 32.