Colorful murals at Mellow Mushroom feature art elements from Allman Brothers Band

Patrons at a restaurant in north Bibb County may feel they are walking inside an Allman Brothers Band album cover.

Artists have painted a kaleidoscope of colors and designs on the interior walls of the Mellow Mushroom pizzeria being built at 5425 Bowman Road, off Bass Road.

The theme of the murals depicts various parts of a journey using some elements from the Allman Brothers Band’s history.

“This is the entranceway to the journey,” said artist Jay Michael of Baton Rouge, La., as he worked on the waiting area mural at the front of the restaurant. His design includes mushrooms, peaches and “Skydog,” Duane Allman’s nickname. Michael said he is reading a book about Duane Allman and used some ideas from the book in his design.

Michael owns Fly Right Studios and “is the best rock ’n’ roll poster artist in the U.S.,” said Buddy Finethy, art director — and self-described “art guru” — for Atlanta-based Mellow Mushroom.

“I came up with the overall theme (for the Macon restaurant) and made some suggestions and got together with the artists here to make the vision all come together,” Finethy said. “We are trying to incorporate as much authentic Maconite history as we can. For example, we are trying to find old church pews for the waiting area, and we’re determined to get them local.”

A kiosk inside the restaurant will hold memorabilia from The Big House — The Allman Brothers Band Museum and former home of band members located on Vineville Avenue.

Finethy, who created the company’s trademark Mel character used in the company’s logo, joined the company in 1987 when he was hungry for a job.

“When I started, I traded art for food,” he said.

In a rear section of the restaurant in recent days, Greg Lanterman, owner of Macon-based Dreamscape Inc., was painting a three-dimensional gas station façade on the wall — a takeoff on an Allman Brothers album cover, he said. The area will have a tin roof ceiling and an old style gas pump will be installed.

In another part of the restaurant, Tommy Roach from West Palm Beach, Fla., was putting the finishing touches on a train that appears to be coming through the wall. Roach is a former professional skateboarder, Finethy said.

Another artist, Nick Benson from Atlanta, has painted the images of Ray Charles and Jerry Reed on separate pieces of old barn tin that will be hung on the walls of the restaurant. Benson began interning with Mellow Mushroom when he was 15, and he recently graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Mellow Mushroom had a restaurant in Macon in the late 1970s, but “it didn’t stay open very long,” said David Spivey, co-owner of the Macon franchise.

Spivey, who also is a real estate agent for Macon-based Fickling & Co., said he and his business partner, Rad Massey, have known each other since the fourth grade. Spivey has been volunteering with Mellow Mushroom for a year to get experience with the company.

The franchisees considered at least four locations for the restaurant, Spivey said. “Ultimately, the setting” sold him on the Bowman Road site, he said. “We’ve got a 1,500-square-foot screened porch overlooking a pond, and we wouldn’t have a setting like that anywhere else.”

Macon-based LHB Contracting LLC is the general contractor for the building, and it is expected to be completed by the end of July, Spivey said.

The restaurant is expected to be open seven days a week, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and it will have a full bar, he said. Spivey said they expect to employ 75 to 100 full- and part-time workers.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.