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It's lights out for Fontaine's neon chicken

The oversized chicken at the corner of VFW Parkway and Route 109 is no longer lighted or flapping. Construction of Vintage, a new West Roxbury eatery where Fontaine's chicken restaurant used to be, has been proceeding rapidly, with an early summer opening expected.

But still sitting next to the structure and looking increasingly out of place and vulnerable is Fontaine's landmark neon chicken, a fixture on the roadway since 1952.

The new owners promise the chicken will eventually have a new home. ''We plan to auction it off and donate the proceeds to the YMCA in West Roxbury," said Kurt Stenhouse, one of the principals in the investment group.

Stenhouse said the owners have been waiting until they get permits for new signs before removing the chicken. They preserve some rights to a permit by keeping the old sign in place.

Stenhouse said he is a bit uneasy about the chicken's presence so close to a construction site.

''My goal is to get it down before something happens to it," he said. Jorge Fontaine and his wife, Helen, designed the sign at their kitchen table and had a local sign company install it in front of the restaurant. They sold the business and closed the restaurant last year.

ROBERT PREER

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