The World of Beer craft beer bar in downtown St. Petersburg could be in a world of trouble.
Former bartenders and staff members threw a "going out of business" bash at the bar Sunday night and invited friends and regular customers to drink a beer at 100 4th St. S. for the last time.
But co-owner Philippe Theodore said the employee party was premature. He said the future of the business is uncertain, but it's not closed for good just yet.
Theodore blamed structural issues with the building, including "major plumbing problems" as the reason why he and the bar's other franchise owners and investors are reconsidering the future of the bar.
Theodore could not determine when or if the bar would open again, and if the bar's operating hours would change. He said it all depends on the cost of repairs and the extent of work required.
Requests for comment from World of Beer's Tampa headquarters went unanswered.
"The business model of World of Beer has changed since we opened this one," said Theodore, who opened the bar in St. Petersburg in 2011. He also opened another in St. Petersburg in 2009 on 4th Street North but closed it in 2012. "They're much bigger now and most have kitchens. Given that, we have to decide if it's worth keeping this one online or not."
Theodore opened an adjacent restaurant concept next door without much success. POW, which stood for pizza or wings, opened in March last year but closed shortly after. He cited similar "structural problems" with the building. Another restaurant called Proper is under development there with a new owner but has yet to open.
World of Beer is also across the street from Hofbrauhaus St. Petersburg, a German beer hall that opened last fall to great excitement and is much larger than World of Beer.
The St. Petersburg World of Beer business was listed for sale in February. An ad posted on LoopNet listed the business for sale at $699,000, which did not include the land or the building, which is owned separately. The landlord and owner of the property is Triann Tower LLC of St. Petersburg. Theodore said there is pending litigation between him and co-owner Jason Rappaport and their landlord.
Former bartender Melanie Tymrak said there have been a number of issues between the corporate office and the local franchise owners. She quit her job there last week because of the impending closure.
"Corporate came by and said it was OK to close because all the employees are so over it and done," Tymrak said. "The owners refused to sell. It's sad how one person can ruin a business."
Theodore acknowledged that several staff members quit but not all of them.
"I can say that a lot of the employees who used to work there will not be there" when and if the bar reopens, he said.
Theodore and Rappaport became the first franchisees of World of Beer in 2008. Theodore has built, managed and owned 11 taverns in Florida, Texas and Colorado. He still owns or is invested in World of Beer bars in Denver and Houston. He said the issues with the downtown St. Petersburg tavern has no effect on his other World of Beer taverns.
Contact Justine Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.