Historic City News received word this week that after nine years and in excess of 500 related meetings, the Saint Augustine Tea Party has been un-ceremoniously un-invited to hold its future meetings at Village Inn on North Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
According to its chairman, Lance Thate, the Saint Augustine Tea Party has been advised that they are no longer welcome at the Village Inn.
“We used to consider the Village Inn our office,” Thate told Historic City News editor Michael Gold. “Over the years, our regular Tea Party meetings, monthly guest speakers, and Town Crier Committee, all met there. We bought coffee, breakfast or dinner, and always tipped the waitress.”
However, on September 10th while the front of the restaurant was essentially empty, the Village Inn night manager, identified as Teresa Ann “Terri” Falandys of St Augustine, informed Thate that she received “numerous complaints” and had an “irate dishwasher” because of the content of his “Chairman’s Report” which had only just concluded minutes before.
“You just can’t make those kinds of statements in a public restaurant,” Falandys said. “My black dishwasher is offended.”
The night manager told Thate that the waitresses in the rear dining room no longer wanted to serve Tea Party members or their guests.
Dave Heimbold, Media Chairman for the St Augustine Tea Party, took it upon himself to try to rectify the situation by making an agreement to pay the waitress an extra $20 for each meeting, on top of the tips she receives from guests at the tables.
According to Heimbold, that agreement was not acceptable to Falandys’ boss, the General Manager. When asked how much more money he needed to pay to cover the waitress’s expense, he never got an answer.
The St Augustine Tea Party said that in January of 2019, they first became aware of a “change of attitude” at the Village Inn. The Tea Party had an opportunity to host Florida Representative Mike Hill. His availability was on the fifth Tuesday of the month which was January 29, 2019.
Someone who identified himself on the telephone as the manager of the Village Inn informed the chairman that the rear dining room was occupied on that night. This turned out to be false. On investigation, a spokesman told Historic City News that all Tuesdays were open at the Village Inn in January. Denny’s Restaurant came through in a pinch with a larger dining room for the meeting. Thate said it was a good thing because they had a full house.
Heimbold recalled that the Town Criers gathered at the Village Inn each Saturday, dressed in “period clothing”, to prepare the pocket Constitutions which they distributed in the Historic District of St. Augustine.
Although there has been no word regarding where the Town Crier Committee will conduct their future staging, the Saint Augustine Tea Party has found a new home with their “friend in need”. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, at Denny’s Restaurant located at 2455 SR-16. The guest speaker at that meeting will be Steve Moranda, who is a certified gun instructor.
“We have people attending from North St Johns County, Clay County, and Duval County, so the new location is better for those members and guests who travel I-95,” Thate said.