‘It’s a Rat:’ St. Patrick’s Day surprise at St. Augustine restaurant

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Elizabeth Willis and her friends were all smiles as they went out on St. Patrick’s Day in St. Augustine.


“For them it was their first time to St. Augustine, and I wanted to show them a staple of St. Augustine, the Tini Martini,” Willis told Action News Jax Ben Becker.

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The bar is located at the Casablanca Inn on Avenida Menendez, where the group decided to enjoy a few drinks. However, Willis says they encountered a little unexpected guest, and it wasn’t a Leprechaun.

“We take our first sips and then all of a sudden, somebody saw something moving towards us,” says Willis. “We’re like what is that and we’re like oh my goodness, it’s a rat.”

READ: Restaurant Report: Inspectors find more than salt at Jacksonville Beach restaurant

That’s right a rat and it wasn’t searching for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Video from one of Willis’ friends shows the rat jumping down off a window, to a table lamp, then it scurries along a wall onto the floor leaving everyone shaken and stirred.

Becker: “The people who you were with were terrified and traumatized by it?”

Willis: “Good word, terrified and traumatized.”

Becker: “So clearly, they must have made some sort of accommodation for you?”

Willis” No, nothing.”

Becker: “Nothing?”

Willis: “Nothing.”

Becker: “They didn’t offer you free drinks?”

Willis: “Nope nothing.”

Becker: “Free Round?”

Willis: “Nope, didn’t even offer to move us.”

Not only that, but Willis says the staff didn’t take it seriously.

“When I was waiting for the check to pay one of the staff members comes up and tries to scare me from behind, and they all start laughing. I mean, they came to look just us to make fun of us,” said Willis.

Becker called Tini Martini from the outside about it’s not so Tini problem and was told a manager was too busy to talk, so Becker walked in but was told by another worker the manager wasn’t there, so he showed the worker the video - who didn’t feel ratted out.

Becker: “See that rat, I’ll rewind it for you.”

Worker: “That’s the first time you have ever seen a rat downtown?”

Becker: “So that’s okay a rat was in your restaurant?”

Worker: “No, I’m not saying nothing was okay.”

As for Willis, she has this warning for others.

Becker: “What made you guys reach out to me?”

Willis: “Really, just to make sure people are aware unsanitary conditions in a place where you might sit and have a drink and eat,” said Willis. “I mean, it’s not right to have rodents running around.”

Statement Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation:

“Thank you for reaching out and providing this video to us. In response, DBPR inspected Casablanca on the Bay, license SEA6501188 yesterday, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Vermin activity was observed and, as a result of this violation, the establishment was placed on a warning with a follow-up inspection required. DBPR will continue to monitor Casablanca on the Bay’s compliance with state standards. It is important for your readers and viewers to know that concerns with any licensed food service establishment should be reported on the DBPR website here so that our team can quickly investigate and ensure licensees are complying with Florida’s rigorous sanitation and safety laws.”

—  Statement Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation

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Statement Nancy Cloud, Owner Casablanca Inn on the Bay:

“Thanks Ben. I’m very upset about what happened at the Tini Martini on St. Patrick’s Day. Of course, we will reimburse the customers and do anything else to make them happy. I guess we had too much confidence in the staff. Besides dealing with the individual staff member involved, we will make sure that everyone knows the customers concern comes first. Thank you for informing us about this problem. We will take care of it. Nancy.”

—  Statement Nancy Cloud, Owner Casablanca Inn on the Bay

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