COKE PLANT – ED AND MEGAN MUSSELMAN
The Coke Plant has been a historic landmark in the hearts of the people of Paducah for decades. At times it’s been a symbol of economic growth and at others, it’s been a sign of struggle. In the recent restoration of The Coke Plant, the building has been a symbol of renewed hope for the Paducah community.
We recently got to sit down with Ed and Megan Musselman, owners of The Coke Plant, and ask them about the heart behind the project. Here is what they had to say.
1. How did The Coke Plant get started?
In 1903, Luther Carson was the seventh bottler of Coca-Cola in the entire world and he was doing it in downtown Paducah. At the time, Coca-Cola was a new product, only served in drug stores as a fountain drink. Bottling and distributing it was a new idea and Luther Carson was on the ground floor level of its distribution. He had no idea how successful it would grow to be. Within a year, he outgrew his location and moved to a larger space. During the great flood of 1937, he was flooded out of his third location. He and one of his employees had to float on a syrup barrel from the second-floor window of his building. He was quoted saying, “If I ever reach dry ground, that’s where I’m going to build my Coke Plant.” Carson made it to dry ground and in 1939 he opened The Coke Plant as we see it today.
Whenever we had the idea to restore a local historic building, we started our search downtown. The goal was to buy a building, restore it, and bring something new to the community that it was missing out on. We had the idea that a downtown brewery is what Paducah needed. The Coke Plant really sparked our interest, and after a few other buildings had fallen through, we decided to pursue it. Within a few hours, we were in serious discussion of purchasing The Coke Plant. We have now successfully restored the building and opened up Dry Ground Brewery in honor of Luther Carson.
2. What do you feel is most special about your business?
Ultimately there is not competition for what we are doing. We like to think that we are bringing new growth and business to the community and not taking away from what’s already here. The more buildings that are restored and opportunities brought to Paducah is truly beneficial for the community as a whole. We aren’t trying to compete for a small pie in Paducah but are bringing many more pies to Paducah. Most of the business tenants at The Coke Plant were non-existent prior to its this restoration. A goal of ours is to create a welcoming environment at a central location with a variety of options for the communities enjoyment.
3. How has the community helped your business?
The community has been more than supportive throughout this entire process. One of our favorite parts about taking on this project has been the people from the community pulling us aside to share their stories about the Coke Plant and give us encouragement. It’s been the push that has kept us going. The Coke Plant is a landmark in Paducah and seeing it alive again has sparked hope and excitement in the community. Also, if it wasn’t for local businesses to jump on our vision and support us we wouldn’t be able to complete the project. We can’t put into words how grateful we are for Chris Black with Ray Black & Son. Chris never doubted our vision for a moment. He was more than excited to start the restoration process and backed us 100%. We also can’t say enough how grateful we are for Paducah Economic Development. They have gone above and beyond to give us help and support throughout this process. The project wouldn’t be where it is today without Ray Black & Son and Paducah Economic Development.
What is your favorite thing to do in Paducah?
Whenever we are not working, we like to spend time with our family. Sometimes that means we pitch a tent and enjoy the outdoors and other times we take our kids to a sporting event or on an adventure. We like to go places so we can escape work and focus all of our attention on enjoying our family. We are hoping to take a ski trip before Mellow Mushroom opens.
5. What advice would you give an entrepreneur considering starting a business in Paducah?
We gladly get to have these conversations frequently with aspiring entrepreneurs. I typically tell people to take initiative. A lot of people have ideas and most of the time they are great ideas. However, people tend to find more barriers to their ideas than solutions. Often people put more stock in the lump sum of all the potential challenges instead of taking on the first one. The key is to get started. It’s good to have a plan but at some point, you just have to take the first step. It’s also very important to surround yourself with good people along the way. Finding mentors and friends who having taken the step to launch their ideas and are where you want to be are vital to your success.