A trip inside the new Yellow Submarine themed Mellow Mushroom in Lima, Ohio

by Jennifer M. Bobbitt

On a number of occasions and to anyone that will listen, I have professed my love for the Funky Q. Chicken pizza from Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers. The sweet applewood smoked bacon, hand tossed, lightly dusted with a magical mixture of cornmeal and parmesan wonderfulness crust, the special combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses blended just right so as not to distract attention from the tender and tasty barbecue chicken, the caramelized red onions perfectly placed… this pizza is worthy of a song. Beetles inspired titles that come to mind…”I Want to Hold Your Pizza” “Can’t Buy Me Love, But You Can Buy Me Pizza,” or “Let Me Eat.”

When the new Mellow Mushroom opened in Lima, Ohio, I invited my friend and fellow Mellow fan, Linda to take a road trip with me to check it out. Somewhere on a two-lane road in the early dusk hours, she got up the courage to confront me and expressed her concern that maybe my obsession with Mellow Mushroom had moved to a new level… that of Mellow groupie. Driving three hours on a Saturday to check out a new restaurant- was it really necessary when there are two Mellow Mushroom’s within 15 minutes of my house? It was “Friends and Family Night,” the big event when a new restaurant opens its doors to test their skill and service on a select group of customers. I neglected to tell Linda that the architecture firm I work for had just finished the new location, our nineth Mellow Mushroom project in six years.

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

In case you’re not familiar with the Mellow Mushroom franchise, or “friendchise” as they like to call themselves, one of the interesting design concepts that the headquarters adheres to is that each location is designed differently and preferably with a theme and elements to support the design. In the case of the Mellow Mushroom Lima, owners Norm & Jane Moser enthusiastically chose a theme based around “Under the Sea/ Yellow Submarine.” The Moser’s daughter Lacey, a former member of the U.S. Navy, runs the store.

The original artwork of this location reflects the iconic design of the late sixties and was designed by Dreamscape Art & Design. Each location celebrates its community with unique, vibrant creations and pays homage to the history and appeal of the area. When you visit Mellow Mushroom Lima, you can learn more about the artwork and the artists by engaging in an online gallery available on your smart phone.

In this Mellow Mushroom a giant 3-D graphic of a smiling woman that greets you from the wall above the kitchen. Adorned with a crazy, colorful collection of computer wires as her hair, local residents will recognize the woman as Lima born comedian Phyllis Diller, a pioneering female stand-up comedian known for her “electric hair.”

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

The Lima Locomotive Works, a local company for which the town was well known, gets a nod in the restaurant in the entry wall above the kitchen. Also included in the design is a baby Kewpee representing the long-time, popular local establishment Kewpee Hamburgers headquartered in Lima.

Keeping with the hippy theme of the Mellow Mushroom brand, an actual VW Bus back jets out from the bar back. Under the overhang of the bar, metal plumbing curved upward serves as purse hooks for bar patrons. Phone charging plug-ins with USB outlets are located beneath the overhang as well, both at the inside bar and on the four seasons patio bar.

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

Across from the bar is a room with high top tables, a funky Mellow Mushroom inspired Abbey Road painting, port holes for windows and a garage door that allow the room to be closed off completely for meetings events. A large mounted screen on one end of the room can be used for television viewing or presentations. A series of side swivel doors open to the drink station or can be closed off for privacy. The day of our photo shoot, the room was being utilized by a group for a training session.

The bar area is accessed from the four season patio as well. Casement windows can be opened in the summer to allow for fresh air and closed off and the ceiling heaters utilized in the winter to maintain a comfortable temperature. The bar area features bright yellow windows that can be closed off allowing the entire patio to serve as a private meeting space.

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

Also unique to each location is that they have one feature table set apart creatively from the rest of the seating. The Lima location has not one, but four feature tables. The round campfire table located on the patio has the charm, but not the sparks and smell of an actual campfire.

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

In the main dining area, the community table continues the “Under the Sea” theme with a table that resembles a hollowed out log with sea sponges whimsically dangling from above. Hidden crystals are embedded in the top of the table with its knotty and textured sides.

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

The very obvious feature table is the Yellow Submarine which seats multiple parties and gives patrons the feeling of being under water in a submarine with the moving water effects from a projector on the interior walls.

Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

The Jellyfish table, with art titled, “Psychejellic,” is an enclosed semi-circular booth with a log table and jellyfish lights floating above. The central jellyfish emits a UV/black light adding to the appeal of the groovy seating. A funky ode to John Lennon details the exterior of the booth.

Photo on the upper right jellyfish table – Copyright Scott Pease/ Pease Photography

The Mellow Mushroom Lima design is the result of pure enthusiasm and passion and it shines through in every detail of the dining environment. An upbeat and energizing experience, the restaurant is the JLo, or triple threat of restaurants offering an explosion of flavor, a unique modern art gallery environment and yes, did we forget to mention fashion! The House of Shroom has its own website, fashion show, and following of their lifestyle brand. This is a brand that really has fun with its branding. More than another pizza place, Mellow Mushroom is an experience that feeds the senses.

Dave Plunkett and Norm Moser pose with the metal of King of Pop on the Mellow Mushroom Lima patio.
The World-Famous Dave Plunkett

Have you ever met someone who injects enthusiasm into everything they do? That’s architect Dave Plunkett. Dave was the architect and project manager of the Mellow Mushroom Lima project. We’re pretty sure Dave dreamed about this project every night for about a year, except for the night before the presentation to the Mellow Mushroom headquarters. Dave was scheduled to fly to Atlanta to present the designs for the Lima location. He was working in the upstairs section of our offices late into the evening to get everything just right for his show and tell of the designs. Much to his surprise, everyone had gone home and locked him upstairs. Caught up in his work, Dave lost track of time and after many failed attempts and calls for help, he did what every super hero architect would do and broke down the locked door and raced to catch his flight, his cape blowing in the breeze behind him.

The client for the Mellow Mushroom Lima project, Norm Moser nicknamed Dave, “The World-Famous Dave Plunkett.” The pair made a strong, united force of creative and driven energy on this project and their passion for leaving no detail untouched shines through in the many clever and innovative touches throughout the design.