After customers come down with rash, St. Pete pub rips out bench, treats building for bed bugs

One live bed bug and one dead bed bug were found inside Pelican Pub Tuesday afternoon following an inspection by the health department after a customer complained of a rash she believes she got after sitting on one of the benches inside the bar.

The same customer posted photos of her rash on Facebook, and within a matter of days, as many as 50 other people joined in the message chain, posting their own photos of their own rashes. All of them say the same thing happened to them after going to the bar.

All of them say they discovered it a day or so after going to the Pelican Pub and sitting on the same bench. The company says it now plans to rip out the bench and replace it.

They also say they’re going to treat the inside of the bar for bugs and pesticides before and after they remove the bench.


Previously, customers were allowed to draw on the walls and the bench with markers, but they say that’s something that no longer will be allowed out of concern the markers used may have also contributed to the rashes.


“Anytime there is a patron or a customer that is in any jeopardy, from a safety standpoint, it’s a big deal. And the owners of the Pelican Pub take that very seriously. That’s why they are going to such immediate measures," Pelican Pub spokesperson James Judge said.

As they work to replace the bench and treat the inside for bugs, they will be voluntarily closed. They plan to re-open once all of the work is completed. A spokesperson says they could re-open as early as Thursday.


Below is a full statement from the Pelican Pub:

We're are taking the claims made on social media over the past couple of days very seriously, and we are doing everything in our power to determine if something at our establishment might be causing this and if so, how to rectify it as soon as possible.

As a result, we have contacted the Florida Department of Health to ask for their assistance and we are working with them to provide them with whatever they might need. We are scheduled to meet with them at 1:30 p.m. today.

Our pub has been operating in St. Petersburg for 10 years, and the bench in question has been in place for nearly five years.

Last month, we received the first and only formal complaint that we are aware of from a patron related to a potential rash. The Florida Department of Health came out shortly thereafter, and we worked with them at that time to provide them whatever they needed. Following their visit, they gave us the all-clear with no conclusive results or findings. 

We wish Rachael and any others affected by this unfortunate situation a speedy recovery and we want to thank her for bringing this to our attention. If this matter is being caused by something in or near the environment of our pub, we will work as quickly as possible to remedy the situation and ensure this doesn't happen again.

Thank you to all of our guests and patrons for their continued loyalty and support.