When Papa Del’s, a popular local pizza restaurant, purchased an old Coca-Cola bottling plant in a high-visibility location, I was delighted to be hired as the lighting designer. I had driven by the building countless times, and even visited a previous restaurant in the space. Most of the time I passed by, however, I didn’t even notice the building- and I often could not tell if the business was even open. One of my first priorities as a lighting designer was to make Papa Del’s “pop” from the road, day and night, to reach out and invite people in. At one time a single ring of red neon had crowned the building, though it was seldom operational. Several additional design ideas led to the use of large LED Neon Flex shapes in the space and at the main entry to pop inside- and to be highly visible from the street.
Above the main bar, architect Keddy Hutson and designer Gaelan Finney-Day crafted a structure of radiating steel supports inspired by the rough factory setting. While we could have mounted track light to the supports, we decided to use red LED Neon Flex to accent the structure and add a warm glow to the bar area. Without the traditional array of neon beer signs to cast a saturated wash of light across the space, I was looking for an alternative- and LED Neon Flex was a perfect fit.
Papa Del’s makes their thin crust and signature deep-dish in round shapes, and it was natural to extend that motif to the unfinished ceilings of the main dining areas. Here, three 12’ steel rings were suspended and painted black before being wrapped with red LED Neon Flex. The result is a huge, pizza-inspired chandelier that doesn’t require a very high ceiling, casts a great red glow into the dining room, and looks absolutely stunning from the street at night. We loved the red glow from the LED Neon Flex so much that we colored other coves in the space red to match.
LED Neon Flex was the perfect product for our project, as it came in a variety of profiles and was field-bendable to our large shapes. Inspired by bar signs and the art deco style of the original building, the LED Neon Flex installations are a clean, modern, minimalist design gesture with major impact.
You can see through the dark windows to the vibrant interior now, leaving no doubt that Papa Del’s has brought new life to an iconic building. The red rings pop, as does the LED Neon Flex tucked into the canopy above the new main entry. (the LED at the building crown is not LED Neon Flex, and was specified and installed by the sign company after the original red neon was discovered to be unfixable).
The photo below is by another photographer, Cory Rodeheaver. If you would like to use the photo, contact him at [email protected]. I also included his proof sheets- there are some better shots of the rings and the main entry with the Neon Flex inside the canopy (i.e. #77).