Residents both familiar with and new to Downtown Hattiesburg have likely seen the enormous structure known most commonly as The Bottling Company. While the business itself may not be what many people remember, local businessmen Ron Savell and Brian McLelland plan to reopen the building as one of Hattiesburg’s premiere event locations.
The Coca-Cola Co. opened the building as a bottling plant in 1915 and closed it in 1960. From then it held various businesses, including The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint and the nightclub and restaurant known as The Bottling Company.
“Some of my craziest college memories were at The Bottling Company,” USM alumnus Carter Lusk said. “I loved seeing the 80s cover bands. There was always a huge turn-out for those.”
When it was operated as a restaurant and music venue in 2012, WDAM reported that Broadcast Music, Inc. and 11 other production companies filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against then-owner Mitchell Brown. The suit alleged that the bar had played music they did not own the rights to, therefore violating copyright law. The restaurant closed its doors permanently later that year.
“I say all the time that Hattiesburg needs another place like The Bottling Company,” Lusk said.
In 2014, the Hattiesburg American reported that local business partners Savell and McLelland had reopened the building as a multipurpose venue, with the first events to be hosted in May of that year.
“We really love the building itself and the history of downtown Hattiesburg,” McLelland told the Hattiesburg American. “We just kind of felt there was a need for a venue like this.”
The Bottling Company announced via their Facebook page this March that they officially own the building, and that beginning on May 1, the building would be available as an event venue.
“The Bottling Company is a favorite choice for gatherings both large and small,” the company said on its Facebook page. “This extraordinary banquet facility and wedding hall has the perfect mix of dramatic views of the downtown area and a modern elegant feel.”
While patrons may be excited for the possibility of upcoming musical events, The Bottling Company’s business will not only focus on local music. The business’ Facebook page said it would host “the occasional band” in addition to its regular business and personal events.
Savell and McLelland hired Kelly Wagner, formerly of Canebrake Country Club and the Lake Terrace Convention center, as the director of sales and event marketing for the company. According to the business’ Facebook page, she has over 15 years of local experience in the event industry.
In a meeting with the HHDA about creating a conservation district, Savell announced the transformation and the intention to turn the building into a full- fledged event venue.
Other local business owners announced their plans for the area as well, including Tom White of Bianchi’s.