Bringing an Ambitious Design from Concept to Reality
September 4th, 2013

The design of Coba Cocina Restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, was inspired by cenotes, a natural wonder found most often in the Yucatan Peninsula, where land has eroded over centuries to create a mystical underwater world. The focal point of the restaurant is an aquarium that is home to the largest private collection of moon jellyfish in the world. The project team decided that the best material to simulate the limestone bedrock and underwater atmosphere would be a variety of tile.


“The design of the floor and walls at COBA is a work of art,” said Todd Ott, AIA, Associate with CMW, Inc., architect for the project.. “By using ceramic and glass tile of various sizes and colors, including iridized blacks, greens, golds, silvers and aqua, on the floors and walls, restaurant patrons can experience a sense of underwater movement. The look continues on the restaurant’s exterior, which is covered in solid porcelain, large format (12” by 24”) tile that gives it a travertine look.

To achieve this intricate look, the team turned to TEC® products because of their wide variety of options and ultimate performance. As a result, the restaurant’s 60,000 square feet of glass, porcelain and ceramic interior and exterior tile, all installed with TEC® Power Grout® and IsoLight™ mortar.

“There was really no other choice when it came to deciding which products to use,” said Ott.  “IsoLight™ and Power Grout® did everything that we needed for all interior and exterior tile applications throughout the project through a single source. The products enabled us to get the look we imagined, with peak performance.” IsoLight™ is a lightweight mortar that protects tile from up to 1/8″ substrate cracking from in-plane horizontal substrate movement. It contains recycled materials that enable superior handling and ease of use.  Additionally, IsoLight™ can be applied over many substrates, an extra bonus for the installer of the Coba Cocina project.

TEC® Power Grout® Ultimate Performance Grout was used for all tile applications on Coba Cocina. It provides permanent stain resistance, crack resistance, efflorescence resistance and superior color uniformity. Power Grout is available in 32 color options that match the latest design trends – yet another advantage for the Coba Cocina design and project team.

“The mortar was applied over various substrate surfaces and used with a variety of tile materials,” said Donnie May, President of May Contracting who served as installer on the project. “Not having to change products during installation saved us time and allowed us to focus on the intricate details of this installation.”

Coba Cocina was completed in spring 2013. The project team consists of architect CMW, Inc., Lexington, KY, tile installer May Contracting, Lexington KY, and distributor Louisville Tile, Lexington, KY. Visit to learn more about TEC® products.

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