York Town Square

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Will high-flying Red Robin, like predecessor Wright Bros. Lincoln Mercury, be marketing savvy?

Wright Bros. Lincoln Mercury, on the northeast angle of the South Queen Street/Interstate 83 intersection, was good at promoting its rolling stock. Here, the dealership used aerial advertising in 2004. A York Daily Record/Sunday News photographer spotted this plane flying over Shrewsbury. The dealership’s buildings, closed for several years, will be demolished to make way for a Red Robin restaurant. (Updating: The dealership was demolished on April 12, but not for Red Robin. The restaurant chain withdrew its plans a few months before and is now opening near the York Galleria.) Also of interest: Bottle-shaped autos rolled around York County and A view of the old Whitehull Airport hanger today.

Wright Bros. Lincoln Mercury enjoyed a prominent spot along a major intersection on a major highway.

But the now-closed dealership deployed other marketing approaches in and around the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s famous flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C. in 2003. The contracted with sign-dragging airplanes, for example, rare above the skies of York County

And remember that Antonov An-2 Russian biplane sitting on the dealership’s lot for several years, visible along Interstate 83?

The dealership sought to have it raised to the roof of its dealership. Then it ran into zoning problems with the township, which challenged whether it met township signage qualifications.

Finally, the plane was disassembled and removed.

Maybe Red Robin, its soon-to-be occupant on that site will use similar marketing. It has the aerial thing going on too.

In 2005, the ydr.com visited a group of retired American military pilots who came along side the Wright Bros. in trying to save the Russian plane:

Here are excerpts from that story:

In January, members of the local Hi-Fliars club signed a petition created to keep a red Antonov An-2 Russian biplane that dated to the mid-1940s placed at Wright Bros. Lincoln Mercury in York Township.

Once a month, the club of aviation enthusiasts and former pilots meets in the back dining room of the Manchester Café in East Manchester Township to chat about flying, history and local issues.

Recently, several members of the club jawed over breakfast about the fate of the large Russian aircraft that had become a common sight along South Queen Street.

Paul Forry of York Township said he signed the Hi-Fliars petition but believed at the time that the group’s efforts would not do much good.

“You can’t fight city hall,” he said.

About three years ago, Wright Bros. Lincoln Mercury parked the historical aircraft on a patch of grass outside its business in an effort to attract potential car buyers.

Early on, the car dealership filed an application with York Township requesting permission to dock the 43-foot-long airplane on the roof of its dealership.

“Oh, boy,” said Bill Houseman of York. “They shot that decision down real fast.”

Eventually, the dealership and the township disagreed on whether the plane should be allowed on the car lot at all, let alone parked on the roof.

Despite the efforts of the Hi-Fliars club, the dealership earlier this year elected to have the airplane disassembled and removed.

“I live very close to the dealership, and I loved it,” said Dale Myers of York Township. “I see no harm in keeping it where it is. It was wonderful to look at.”

Also of interest:
Here is a call for Gino’s Burgers and Chicken to return to York County