TAMPA — Lisa Lawson says she has a deal with the spirits who haunt her Cerealholic Cafe and Afterholic Speakeasy businesses, which share a century-old Ybor City former church building.
She can put up with ghostly shenanigans if the spirits allow her to market the haunting.
But the ghosts have a caveat of their own, Lawson said. “Don’t make fun of them.”
She hopes customers keep that in mind throughout October, every Thursday through Sunday, when the upstairs breakfast cereal-themed cafe and bar and downstairs 1920s-style speakeasy bar host “The Haunted Tavern: A Dark Pop-Up Cocktail Experience.”
During the 90-minute event, according to a press release, “descendants of Ichabod Crane” tell ghost stories as “the tavern keeper guides you through a four-part interactive cocktail journey.”
So, are they really descendants of the fictional Legend of Sleepy Hollow protagonist?
“No,” laughed Lawson.
Is their building at 1909 N. 15th St. really haunted?
Lawson said she first realized the building was haunted in September 2020 as she prepared for the January grand opening.
When downstairs, she’d hear banging upstairs, and vice versa, but never discovered the source of the noise.
Then, items went missing. Lawson said she’d put something on a table and walk away. It would be gone when she returned.
“I’d tell them, ‘Listen, I do not have time to play with you guys,’” she said.
A short time later, Lawson said, the missing item would be back on the table.
Security footage, she added, sometimes includes orbs, which are floating globes of light associated with spirits. And customers who identified themselves as mediums have told her that they see spirits.