Oak Cliff Small Business Owner Fights City Hall and Wins

The mural along the wall of Maroches Bakery in Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood is playful, colorful and has meaning to the business owner who commissioned it.

"We wanted to do something more cultural," explained owner, Manuel Tellez.

The swirl of pastel colors down the side wall of his business is a nod to Tellez's four daughters and his Latino heritage.

"It's like the mural," explained Tellez. "Happiness."

But someone wasn't happy with the art, and filed a complaint with the city of Dallas six months after the mural was completed.

"I was thinking like, wait a minute, there's a lot of murals," Tellez said.

There are other murals along his stretch of West Davis Street. The Maroches Bakery sits at the intersection of the Winnetka Heights Historic District and the Kings Highway Conservation District, where change requires approval.

"Who wants to see just a wall painted white?" asked neighboring business owner, Carlos De La Fuente, who owns ABC Party Headquarters.

De La Fuente pointed to a mural across the street from his business.

"It hasn't been damaged. There's no graffiti on it," De La Fuente said. "It's a sign of approval."

De La Fuente said his daughter recently painted a colorful flamingo mural on the back wall of his business. He's hoping the city won't come after him to paint over it.

Tellez got support from the community in the form of a petition with more than 1,600 signatures to keep the mural. In the end, Dallas' Landmark Commission decided to let it stay, but Tellez still has to have an expert certify its artistic value and significance in the Latino mural tradition.

"We need to follow the rules," Tellez said. "Makes me think I'm doing the right thing."

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