South Tampa’s Cask Social unexpectedly closes, leaves employees scrambling for new jobs

The property was purchased by the owners of karaoke bar La La St. Pete.

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click to enlarge Cask Social Kitchen/Facebook
Cask Social Kitchen/Facebook
On Sunday, March 5, employees of a popular South Tampa restaurant unknowingly worked their very last shift.

Cask Social Kitchen—located at 208 S Howard Ave.—unexpectedly closed this week, shocking employees, patrons, and even its food vendors. On Monday, March 6, Cask CEO Stephen Bishop wrote a letter to roughly 25  now-former employees, stating that the restaurant had been purchased by the owners of  St. Pete karaoke bar La La.

 “As of this morning, Cask restaurant has been sold to the owners of La La St. Pete. They will be shutting down the restaurant effective immediately and converting into a different concept," the letter, obtained by Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, read.

The letter states that its former employees will receive their last paycheck as normal, and that restaurant is willing to assist them in finding other jobs in Tampa Bay’s hospitality industry. Bishop also told WFLA that he made job offers to several of his former BOH employees, in addition to "providing resources for others."

“We apologize for the suddenness of this announcement but there is simply not a better way to do it,” the letter continues.

Omar Elgaouni, a former bartender at Cask, organized a GoFundMe to help raise money for himself and his recently laid-off coworkers. “We were not given time to find a new job, any sort of severance, or even time to mourn the loss of our close knit family,” the fundraiser reads. Elgaouni says that his main goal is to help his former coworkers find new jobs as soon as possible, especially folks with children.

"We just want to get as much attention and media coverage for our fundraiser. Even if we get new jobs right away, we'll still have to wait a month or so for the first paycheck," he says. "It's not right how restaurants do this, and somebody has to do something about it."

His former general manager also told him and his coworkers that the Cask building will soon become a Tampa location of karaoke concept La La; its flagship St. Pete location debuted on Central Avenue last year.

CL reached out to La La owner Lucas Herraiz for a comment, but has been unable to get in touch with him.

And if anyone knows of open FOH or BOH positions at any Tampa restaurants, you can send them directly to Elgaouni via his GoFundMe page, since he's compiling a list of resources for his former coworkers. 

About The Author

Kyla Fields

Kyla Fields is the Managing Editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay who started their journey at CL as summer 2019 intern. They are the proud owner of a charming, sausage-shaped, four-year-old rescue mutt named Piña.
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