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Bowling Green speakeasy to be designed by WKU students

Molly D

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misspelled Sheila Flener’s last name. The Herald regrets this error.  

The old State Street High School gymnasium is planned to turn into a speakeasy featuring live jazz music and small plates, and WKU Interior Design students have been asked to design the space.

Derrick Huff and his wife, the owners of Traveler’s Cellar Winery, purchased the old highschool gym area with plans to turn the upstairs into a wine bar and brunch and lunch spot, as well as a venue. The downstairs will be a speakeasy with a cigar lounge located in the back. 


“It’s all going to be under the name, ‘the Mustang Club’, paying homage to the mascot of the two schools that used the space,” Huff said. 

Speakeasies came about during 1920s prohibition, when alcohol was illegal. Consumers were forced underground into secret bars that required a knock or a code to enter. 

“A lot of the larger cities have these speakeasy bars where you’re kind of transported to a different time, a different era, different sounds, different tastes, and that sort of thing,” Huff said. “That’s what we’re trying to capture downstairs.”

While working with one of the professors in the WKU hospitality management department, Huff heard about professor Sheila Flener’s interior design class. In the past, Flener had assigned students a project where they must pick a rock and roll song and design a bar based off of it.

“I had a student who chose Debbie Harry’s ‘Heart of Glass.’ When he got done with it, he posted it on Tik Tok and Debbie Harry got on and [commented] ‘This is really cool,’”  Flener said. 

This project is supposed to replicate real world experience for students, but this semester, 40 students have the opportunity to design the real deal. 

“I knew we’d receive much more interesting ideas from the students rather than going to an interior designer in town. We’re going to be able to capture so many different ideas,” Huff said. 

As a thank you to the students, Huff will be giving away cash prizes to the top three teams. The 40 students in the class have been divided into four teams of 10. The first place team will receive $500, the second will receive $300 and the third place team will be given $100. 

“The great thing about this partnership is it gets them something that they can put on their resume, something that they had influence on. Or was the winning project [team] on a real world project that’s going to be completed before the end of the spring semester,” Huff said. 

Huff has given students free range with ideas and their designs, although they were informed of his preference for the Art Deco style. 

“Basically, we’ve just kind of drawn a mood board … We’re at the point of picking furniture and in a couple of weeks we’ll have rendered drawings done and rendered floor plans, stuff like that,” Maggie Jones, interior design student in the class said. 

The Mustang Club is designed to be an upscale date-night venue. It will be 21 years and up and will also have a dress code. 

“It’ll offer something that’s pretty unique that we don’t have in Bowling Green … I think it’s an itch that needs to be scratched, ” Huff said. “It’s been really great partnering with the interior design program at WKU and we’re excited to see what they come up with.”

News Reporter Izzzy Lanuza can be reached at [email protected]



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