Florida Restaurant Busted for Hosting Illegal Pot Parties During COVID-19 Crisis
A Peruvian eatery in Tampa Bay got caught hosting a speakeasy-style party during the pandemic, featuring THC-infused tacos, cocktails, and bags of bud.
Published on June 8, 2020

A speakeasy was busted in Florida last month, after a Tampa Bay restaurant refused to shutter its doors and instead transformed into a backdoor-only club filled with cannabis, booze, and sex.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Nazca Bar & Grill was shuttered by authorities at the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and the Sheriff's Department after a liquor control employee made a routine check of the area’s closed restaurants. And while Nazca had shut down the front entrance and dining room in accordance with pandemic protocols, the liquor inspector said that the restaurant’s back parking lot was full and there was a line of people going in and out of the back entrance — with none of them carrying take-out.

At that point, the inspector called up local sheriffs and decided to investigate. When the cops arrived, a group of 50-70 patrons at the speakeasy realized that the jig was up, and began flooding out of the back entrance. Once inside, authorities say they immediately smelled weed, found a full bar, and a sign advertising “infused tacos” and other THC treats. Upstairs, cops also found $10,000 in cash and another stash of weed. According to court documents, the restaurant’s manager was using the space to operate an illegal marijuana dispensary. 

When authorities first arrived at the eatery, the owner tried to keep them outside by asking for a warrant. But since the business serves alcohol legally, State Division of Alcoholic Beverage employees are allowed to inspect the building without a warrant. After discovering the speakeasy party and contraband, sheriffs arrested the restaurant owner on a misdemeanor charge of refusing entrance to a state alcohol official and a warning for breaking the state’s COVID-19 closure order.

In NYC, a large group of cannabis enthusiasts were busted in a similar situation when they were caught celebrating 4/20 at a pandemic party. But while that Big Apple speakeasy led to the NYPD writing tickets for each and every one of the 38 guests, the Tampa Bay partygoers all escaped scot-free. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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