ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A downtown St. Pete bar that was at the center of a health scare is back open. The Pelican Pub closed its doors for two days after multiple patrons complained about contracting a skin rash from allegedly sitting on the same bench.
The temporary closure did not scare patrons away. Thursday, the Health Department gave the establishment the all-clear.
“We closed the bar down for two days following what we would consider pretty extensive efforts to make the situation right,” said Pelican Pub’s spokesman, James Judge.
Itchy, swollen, and extremely painful: Dozens of people came forward earlier this week, saying they developed a skin rash after sitting on the same wooden bench at the pub.
“We wanted to make sure that we addressed any potential safety concerns,” Judge said. “Safety is the number one priority of the guests of our pub.”
The owners voluntarily shut down Tuesday after state inspectors discovered two bed bugs, one alive and one dead. Cleaning solutions were also flagged for being too strong.
Pest control was called out to spray, and the next day, crews ripped out the bench that allegedly caused the mysterious rash outbreak. Tables and chairs now line the wall where the bench used to be.
It’s not clear if the chemicals or the bugs were the cause of the skin conditions. But that didn’t stop some guests from dressing up with bites for Halloween. The bar even commemorated the bench with its own tombstone.
“We figured we’d poke a little fun at ourselves as well,” said Judge. “So anybody that’s offended, we’re deeply sorry if they’re offended and, uh, we’d like for them to come out. There is a free round of shots tonight at midnight.”
Judge says staff will now be washing most surfaces with soap and water, and customers are no longer allowed to draw on the walls of the pub.
FOX 13 News reached out to some of the customers who developed skin irritations, but they didn’t want to comment on-camera. They tell us they hope the source has been addressed and no one else contracts the painful rash.