Photo Essay: What to Do With an Old Coca Cola Bottling Plant

Exploring the Arts in Paducah , KY – A UNESCO Creativity City – Part 4

What do you do with an old, vacant and run down Coca Cola bottling plant?

If it’s in Paducah, you turn it into a destination.

Paducah floodwall mural by Robert Dafford depicting the opening of the Coca Cola plant in 1939

The Coca Cola bottling plant was founded in 1939 and was designed by Lester Daley of Metropolis IL.  It remained in operation until 2005 and then remained vacant and fell into disrepair for over ten years until Ed and Megan Musselman purchased the plant and restored it.  They had the original windows resealed, revived the 9,000 square feet of terrazzo tile, restored the neon dome and brought the building back to its 1939 Art Deco glory. The building was refitted for space for small businesses like and ice cream parlor, a coffee shop, yoga studio and others.

The restored front and dome of the Coke bottling plant
The restored entry to the Coke plant showing the terrazzo floor and the circular art deco staircase
view looking down the curved art deco railing

The anchor business for the revitalized space is a Mellow Mushroom restaurant specializing in gourmet pizza and a huge selection of craft beers. Mellow restaurants are known for incorporating local art into the decor, and this Paducah franchise is no exception with over 22 local artists leaving their creative mark on the walls.

The Mellow Mushroom restaurant showing the retained art deco banister and Paducah artist’s wall art.
Some of the art details on the soffit.
A larger than life mural inside the restaurant of Mr. Luther Carson who built the original Coke bottling plant.

On the other side of the building is Dry Ground Brewing Company, Paducah’s first craft brewery.  Their beers have funky names and fun descriptions.  From their menu, the Preacher Pils, a pilsner, smells like fresh poured Kentucky lemonade with hints of fresh cut cantaloupe.  Uncle Luther, an extra special bitter, pours amber red with a full white head and smells like graham cracker and raspberry jam. 31 Flood, and American IPA, pours a vibrant golden orange with a stark white head and smells piney clementine, honey dew melon with hints of forest floor. To enjoy all their beers, you have to go onsite and get them fresh on tap.

The Dry Ground Brewing Company with their only bottled beer on the counter, Rapture, a bourbon barrel aged stout that smells of spicy toasted marshmallow with hints of dark chocolate.

It’s good to see that such a historic building was restored and its art deco details kept intact, while at the same time making it a modern, fun, and tasty destination.

Thanks for visiting,

Rose