A vintage slice of Floridiana in the heart of Tampa is changing hands.
A Tampa investment company has purchased the Tahitian Inn hotel at 601 S Dale Mabry Highway for just under $9.7 million, according to a deed filed with the Hillsborough County Clerk’s office.
Om Ventures, whose South Tampa holdings also include the Carriage Trade Plaza shopping center on Dale Mabry, closed on the property Aug. 29. Om owner Dharma Malempati said the hotel will stay open under the same name.
“We’re going to continue to run it as a hotel and do some renovations,” he said. “It’s going to stay open, and we’re going to improve it.”
Malempati said the hotel’s Pach’s Place restaurant — which moved from its longtime South Tampa location in 2018 — will also stay open.
The seller is Joe Pupello, son of Tampa banker, entrepreneur and hotel founder Joe Pupello, who opened the Tahitian Inn in 1953, and whose family has run it ever since. Messages to Pupello’s attorney and Pach’s Place’s owner were not returned Thursday.
The hotel has a colorful history that goes beyond its Polynesian decor. Its long-running coffee shop was a South Tampa institution, and it was for years reputed to be a hangout for the mob-connected. It even has a notorious celebrity connection: In 2011, Michael Lohan, the estranged father of actor Lindsey Lohan, was hospitalized after leaping from a third-floor balcony while evading arrest on charges tied to domestic battery.
The hotel has been renovated several times over the years and in 2012 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a bid to stay open. In the summer, its poolside cabanas and outdoor Torch Tiki Bar draw locals as well as guests from out of town.