Remove American Flag

(WSVN) - When she opened a new restaurant, she wanted to add something special and put a small American flag in her window. Wonderful, right? Nah, the condo board in the building said you have to take it down. She said, ‘I am not taking the American flag down’ and that’s when she made a call for Help To Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

We all have goals and dreams. Nikki Marchelos did, and her dream came true.

Nikki Marchelos, displaying American flag: “I love it. I put everything on hold in my personal life to make this a success I want.”

Nikki bought this space in a condo building and opened Nikki’s Orange Kitchen in Pompano Beach serving not just organic, but good tasting organic.

Nikki Marchelos: “We have a full service of smoothie bar and fresh juices that is organic, organic coffee bar we also have a full liquor bar and we serve amazing food!”

Nikki had a mural made of fruits and vegetables to put on one door…

Nikki Marchelos: “And I feel very strong about our flag.”

And she is very proud of being an American so on the other door to her restaurant, she put up this small American flag with the words — God bless America.

Nikki Marchelos: “And my brother is a veteran and fought in the Vietnam war and my father was a Navy soldier and I felt very patriotic about my country. This is America and I’m proud of it.”

She likes her murals and loves her flag and then…

Nikki Marchelos: “And I got a letter from the board back in August saying you have to remove your signs because you never got permission.”

Her restaurant is on the ground floor of the plaza at Oceanside — and she has to follow condo rules so she asked for permission to keep her murals on her door.

Nikki Marchelos: “And they said no, permission denied.”

Nikki was stunned … and it got worse.

Nikki Marchelos: “And next thing I know I get another letter and says you are being fined $5,000 for every mural and $100 a day.”

As the daughter of a veteran who went to war to fight for the flag, Nikki made a decision.

Nikki Marchelos: “I’m not taking it down, no. I have to stand for something and this to me is important.”

Nikki knew she would face hurdles opening a new restaurant.

Nikki Marchelos: “I don’t know if it’s personal. I didn’t do anything to them.”

She just never expected to have to fight to keep this flag in her door.

Nikki Marchelos: “Crying, I’ve done everything that I can to make it work and I love people and open the door to so many people who need help.”

Well Howard, can the condo association make Nikki take the American flag down…

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “An association can make her take down the drawing of the fruit and vegetables but not the flag. Because they are relying on their document that prohibits signs, posters billboards or other advertising devices. The American flag does not fall into those categories, so they cannot block her putting up the American flag.”

We contacted the association. Their attorney sent a polite email saying, “Unfortunately, we cannot comment on an ongoing legal dispute between the association and an owner.

And then the association cited a different condo rule to make Nikki take the flag down, saying Nikki cannot make improvements or alterations without written approval. Nikki still won’t back down and won’t take this American flag down.

Howard Finkelstein: “This will now head to mediation and the association needs to back down because the next step is court and Nikki will win.”

Nikki Marchelos: “I love Help Me Howard.”

Nikki now has two goals for the new year. Make her new restaurant a success and keep her American flag on the door.

Nikki Marchelos: “I’m looking forward to a new year and I believe in goodness and that is where I’m going to put my money.”

We will keep an eye on this and we will let you know what happens to Nikki’s American flag. Hopefully they will settle it in mediation because if they go to court whoever loses has to pay the winner’s legal fees, and Howard thinks Nikki will win so the association members will have to pay her attorney’s bill.

Someone cooked up a problem that’s left you stewing? Ready to turn the heat up on them? Flag us down. And let us whip up a tasty solution.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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