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Wilson’s Lounge, St. Pete’s ‘Magic Mike’ bar, facing eviction 8 months after reopening

Original Article

Wilson’s new landlord say the Wilson’s violated a lease agreement requiring liability insurance.

But to most in St. Pete, the spot simply known as Wilson’s. It’s a storied local dive bar where the crack of a cue ball is always the next track. The drinks are cheap and the stale smoke hanging in the air is the souvenir you didn’t ask for, but can’t refuse. 

The place has character. It does not, however, have enough liability insurance. And because of that, it might not be around much longer.

The new owners of the property are suing the bar’s operator, John Turaniczo, saying he violated a section of the lease requiring $1 million in liquor liability coverage. The owners asked a court to intervene and force Turaniczo to update his coverage or face eviction.

Wilson’s Sports Lounge was closed throughout most of the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened last summer. In October, Belleair Development Group (BDG) bought the land at Fourth Street and 30th Avenue N for $1.2 million. That included assumption of the lease agreement with Turaniczo.

Documents filed in Pinellas County Court show Turaniczo had a $1 million general liability policy as well as separate $300,000 policies for assault and battery coverage and liquor liability coverage. According to a letter written by Jarod A. Brazel, an attorney representing BDG, Turaniczo was notified on Nov. 10 that he needed to update his policy. The letter gave a few options. He could have one $1 million policy for all the coverages. Or, if they stayed separate, each policy would have to hit $1 million.

Brazel said there was no response.

“You evidently ignored BDG’s notice and demands because earlier this month BDG received a copy of the carrier’s Notice of Cancellation of your liquor liability policy,” Brazel wrote. 

Court documents show Wilson’s liquor liability policy was dropped in January. The company received information that Wilson’s was hit with three code enforcement violations. The company asked if the violations were related to liquor and received no reply.

In the lawsuit, BDG said Turaniczo is now operating without any liquor liability coverage.

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