City of Tampa targets restaurant's liquor license for 'flagrant' violations

Posted at 11:11 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 12:59:13-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A once-thriving downtown restaurant and bar is at risk of losing its liquor license due to several “flagrant violations” of local and state executive orders, according to the City of Tampa.

Mole y Abuela has been closed since June, but that’s not stopping the City of Tampa from going after the business' liquor license.

“I just thought it was irresponsible, you know, we were in a pandemic,” said Kelly Charles-Collins, who lived near the restaurant.

Charles-Collins describes a packed, party-atmosphere in May when businesses were supposed to operate only at 25 percent.

“I think people need to be held accountable,” said Charles-Collins. “This is something that is really serious. People’s lives are at stake.”

According to a scathing report by the City of Tampa, Mole y Abuela opened to the public on May 5 after a statewide shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The report details “flagrant disregard and violation” of the Governor’s Executive Orders and City of Tampa Mayor’s Executive Orders.

“Tables had been removed… and there appeared to be no food service in violation of the City’s condition of approval,” the report states.

The report by City of Tampa also states, “Establishment was basically converted into a club and over 100% capacity in violation of Governor’s Executive Order.”

On May 26, according to the report, a manager refused to allow Tampa Police officers into the establishment.

Just two days later, the report states manager Lanfranco Pescante advised Tampa Police he was “going to only comply with the original occupancy permit, not the COVID guidelines.”

Pescante made headlines in June for threatening on social media to shoot demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd.

The disgraced business owner is now at the center of a sexual assault lawsuit.


City council members will decide whether or not to revoke the business' liquor license during a hearing in October.

An attorney representing the restaurant and bar said he can not comment at this time.

If you see a business not complying with the State of Florida's social distancing order or a bar violating the order to remain closed, you can report such violations to the Florida Department of Business and Regulation. The complaint hotline is (850) 487-1395. You can also file a complaint online using this form.