Friday, April 25, 2014

St. Pete's Broken Tusk to become Mad Hatter's Ethnobotanical Tea Bar

"We want to serve the best legal high in St. Pete," Levi said.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM

click to enlarge TEA LOVE: (left to right) Judah and Levi Love will reopen the Broken Tusk as a new tea lounge called Mad Hatter's. - ARIELLE STEVENSON
  • Arielle Stevenson
  • TEA LOVE: (left to right) Judah and Levi Love will reopen the Broken Tusk as a new tea lounge called Mad Hatter's.

Owners Levi and Judah Love (many will remember them from the Emerald) will celebrate the last night at their bar, The Broken Tusk, Saturday, April 26. After two years, the liquor-slinging Loves are calling it quits on serving alcohol, whipping up a new brand of legal high, kava. The Broken Tusk will reopen May 2 as Mad Hatter's Ethnobotanical Tea Bar.

"We want to serve the best legal high in St. Pete," Levi said. 

They both quit drinking two years ago, right after leaving the Emerald to open the Broken Tusk. Instead of going out to the bar, the Loves discovered the laid-back kava house in Gulfport, Low Tide Lounge.

"We were driving back, and Judah says, 'We should turn the bar into a kava lounge,'" Levi said. "And it clicked."

They loved the drama-free atmosphere surrounding kava, an herbal tea known for its relaxing properties (the FDA approved it as an herbal supplement). And they already had a space, which wasn't quite working, completely renovated, including an outdoor patio. Everything fell into place.

"No one gets into a fight drinking kava," Levi said. "It's a bar-like setting but with a hippy vibe."

But it wasn't just the fact that they'd quit drinking and discovered a wonderfully sedating herbal tea supplement. The Broken Tusk was formerly Mac Daddy's Liquor Lounge, a biker bar at 4685 28th St. N. The neighborhood took time to adjust to the Loves' open LGBT format. 

Lettering on each of the front doors read, "If you are racist, sexist, homophobic or an asshole, DON'T COME IN."

Initially the Loves fought back with an excess of drag shows, lots of rainbow flags and in-your-faceness.

"It was a good learning experience of what we don't want to do," Judah said.

Now, they want to create a peaceful environment where everyone is welcome. There will be five different blends of kava teas, including a make-your-own. Plus, gourmet organic foods, hookah, vaporizer products, yoga and herbs. Eventually, if Florida ever legalizes medical marijuana, and if they can secure themselves as a dispensary, they'd like to add it to their legal high offerings as well. 

But for now, they're focusing on creating a peaceful environment for customers. Mad Hatter's will be, as its name suggests, an Alice in Wonderland-themed space, or as the Loves describe it, "really trippy."

"Come on out and socialize," Judah said. "It's not your grandma's Earl Grey."

You can still visit the Broken Tusk through Saturday evening (they have to get rid of all that alcohol with VERY cheap drinks). Mad Hatter's Ethnobotanical Tea Lounge will open Friday, May 2. 

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