Hollywood set artist to turn historic passenger train car into unique dining experience

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A Hollywood set artist has been in and out of Huntsville to turn a train into the ultimate dining experience at A.M. Booth`s Lumberyard.

The passenger car is set to open sometime next month, and WHNT News 19 got a look inside of it and the design process.


Melisa Coby is a credited set artist whose work appears in many top award-winning films, parks and museums, She had returned to A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard to work more of her magic.

If you’re visiting the two-acre restaurant/venue in the next few weeks you might peek in the historic passenger car that has been painstakingly transformed into a unique dining space.

It's scheduled to open in July, scores of contributors, some very talented craftsmen, and a vision that has taken over a decade to fulfill, are now waiting for Coby's final touches.

Earlier this year, Melisa arrived straight from the set of a new film about Al Capone, “Fonzo”, starring Tom Hardy and Matt Dillon. “I turned Styrofoam into marble statues for Capone’s mansion,” Melisa mused.

“It was funny because the actors kept leaning against them and falling over.”

For the Lumberyard railcar, christened the “Blue Bayou”, her contributions include turning plastic into aged metal steam pipes and ceiling medallions, marbleizing tables, and transforming pine into mahogany.

She has worked on the slave shacks in “Twelve Years a Slave”, the houses in “The Help” and the castles and mansions in the "Twilight Saga", Melisa’s skills and aging techniques are invaluable for the Lumberyard’s 1924 passenger car the owner Doug Smith said.

Her resume includes other trains too; like the steam engine for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".

Starting June 21st, Melisa’s next few days on the Blue Bayou are planned for blending and aging the renovated elements into one cohesive presentation. However, the presentation doesn’t stop with sprucing up the 650 sq. ft antique on wheels.

The dinner bell rings, the conductor shouts, “ALL ABOARD!” and ticket holding passengers will be treated to more than just a meal surrounded by the reclaimed mahogany walls.

The staff are rehearsing a multi-media excursion as they host four-course suppers served family style for 36 guests under the clerestory muraled ceiling.

Workers have taken an 100-year-old pump organ and turned it into the train car’s bar. After dinner “excursions” will be available where anyone can board the train for “Nite Caps”, with multi-media programmed entertainment, hosted from the high-end bar in an historic setting.

The owner plans to have it opened to the public but also use it for private events

For more information on the "Blue Bayou" check out Lumberyard's Facebook.

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