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Why a new speakeasy inside a funeral home isn't as taboo as you'd think

Celebrating death in an unusual way
Speakeasy at Blount and Curry at MacDill Avenue Funeral Home
Posted at 3:19 PM, May 31, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) -- The funeral director at Blount and Curry Funeral Home at MacDill Avenue says more and more people want an uplifting funeral service, not a dreary and depressing goodbye.

Opened in 1957, the funeral home is a staple of South Tampa. But, the way it looks and feels when you walk in today is a lot different than the funeral home of the 1950s.

Funeral Director Adam Wojciechowskitells WFTS they've worked hard to make the funeral home feel more like an event space, similar to a wedding venue.

"You walk in. It's a beautiful setting, very light and refreshing. You have Frank Sinatra playing," Wojciechowski said.

"There's nothing dark or grim about this space. It's a place to feel a little bit of lightheartedness. It could be a dark time for a family mourning a loss. We've added on the speakeasy, and that has only strengthened what we can offer here for families, again, offering something different."

The Palma Ceia room has environmental projections. The team can project Raymond James Stadium on the walls or the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion. Recently, they had a themed service, and everyone that came in got beads.

Wojciechowski says since the pandemic started, he's seen more and more people wanting to celebrate a loved one's loss.

"It has shifted a little bit. I see a lot more people want to celebrate their loved one's life, whether having refreshments or food service or bar service at their loved ones wake, and that's becoming more common," Wojciechowski said. "When they use this room (speakeasy), they absolutely love it."

The designers paid close attention to detail. There are portholes in the front door that are six feet high, so someone on the outside can't easily look in. The walls are adorned with pictures of 1920s flapper girls, and the secret entrance from the funeral home is designed to look like an antique photo in a frame, but it is really a door.

"Anybody who is interested can use the space inquiries for birthday parties, work functions, cigar groups, if people just want to have something fun for their friends for the day, on the weekend, we can accommodate that; it does not just have to be strictly limited to funeral celebrations," Wojciechowski said.

"When people hear funeral home, I think they think darkness and sadness and things like that. We are trying to show the community, the country, it doesn't have to be that way. You can still mourn your loved one. If you are mourning when you come in, we want the families to leave our care (knowing) that they did have a great sendoff for their loved one."

This story originally reported by Michael Paluska on