TAMPA — There’s a new spot in town where you can toast in honor of deceased loved ones. In fact, you don’t even need to leave the funeral home to hit the bar.
Blount & Curry Funeral Home at MacDill Avenue has opened a speakeasy-themed room to help people grieve in a space that feels authentic to their loved ones.
“The world of funerals is changing a bit,” said Bridgette Soto, a licensed funeral director and the MacDill Avenue location manager. “We’re trying to make them more personalized, more focused on the deceased individual as a whole in terms of the interests they had and the life they led.”
Thanks to a recent $2.85 million renovation, the funeral home has updated three distinctive event spaces. Palma Ceia Hall has been upgraded to have a “hotel or country club atmosphere versus a traditional funeral home,” with environmental projection technology that allows guests to transform the space into anything from a golf course to Main Street, U.S.A. The smaller Bayshore Room is described as intimate, yet upscale and customizable.
Then there’s Ybor 1929, a speakeasy-themed space that nods to the days of historic Ybor City during Prohibition. The room, which can fit 55 people, features details like heavy green and gold wallpaper, large portraits of flappers and an antique cash register. There’s exposed brick, stained concrete and a bar with mirrored antique glass.
“The biggest comment we’ve had from everyone who’s seen the room is ‘I want to have a party in here, I want a meeting in here, I want to have a retirement party here,’” Soto said. “It’s like they see this space is more flexible. And we are open to that. ... It’s not limited to simply funerals and memorial services.”
In this space, clients will be able to book full catering and bar services. It also has an exterior entrance, so guests don’t have to enter through the front of the funeral home to access it.
For those who do book the space for funerals, Soto thinks the space lends itself well to an Irish wake, something she’s seen before on TV shows and movies.
“That speakeasy is essentially a bar,” she said. “And if someone wanted to have a true Irish wake, we could bring the casket into that room, and we could do it the right way, the traditional way.”
A grand opening party will be held this summer. But clients are already booking the space for their special events.
“Sometimes having pews and stained glass and an organ isn’t conducive to every person,” Soto said.