For the last few months, a local bar has been working to reestablish itself in a new location, a former church right across the street from an existing church. Putting a stop to this will require local light and action.

The Non-Renewed Lease…

In September 2022 The Federal Bar located at 124 S. Tennessee Ave was not able to continue its lease. To my understanding, this had much to do with the actions and happenings that were commonplace. A new restaurant/bar has already occupied the space. I mention this to bring attention to the expectation that what was happening previously at the Federal Bar will simply transfer over to any new location they acquire. Federal Bar Lakeland | Facebook

The Offensive Proposition…

Before the Federal Bar closed, they searched for a new location and found a vacant church building at 417 N. Massachusetts Ave. This apparently gave them the idea of naming the new establishment “The Chapel Bar”. In their excitement, The Federal Bar began to promote their new idea to their patrons with a “Holy Brunch” and a “Chapel Preview”. Pictures and videos were posted on their social media pages but were removed them after they began to have public opposition to their idea. An article in The Ledger* said it this way, “His idea has drawn criticism after a photo posted on The Federal Bar’s social media accounts depicting five women dressed in nun costumes, consisting of short, black-and-white dresses with fishnet stockings and boots, pretending to pray on the bar’s front steps. A Lakeland resident wrote the Lakeland Commission and was quoted in the same Ledger article, “It is my belief that the actions seen in the image attached depicting scantily dressed nuns bearing crucifixes and praying hands at the Federal Bar during the Chapel Bar kickoff event demonstrates a blatant disrespect for Christians throughout our community by purposefully mocking people of faith.” These pictures and videos may have been removed from their social media accounts but their ideology and intentions have already been revealed.

Waitresses dressed is sexy nuns. A Social Media post from Federal BarWaitresses dressed is sexy nuns. A Social Media post from Federal Bar

Additionally, there is an existing church across the street from the proposed location of The Chapel Bar. City Staff has informed the Commission that the church building has been abandoned for years but I had a conversation just the other day with the pastor of the church confirming that they are active in meeting in their building. It would be a violation of the City Code to allow a bar to conduct business in such proximity to a church.

Furthermore, is another bar what we need in Lakeland? Especially not in an area already overburdened with homelessness and crime. The Federal Bar has had many calls for police service in the past. They have apparently gained a reputation for lewd and lascivious behavior. Is an establishment like this healthy for the downtown area? Is it healthy for any area? I say “NO”.

The Opposition…

I ask you to join me in saying “NO” and urging the City Commission to say “NO” to Proposed Ordinance 23-001. “ALL that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
I am asking that you send an email to the Lakeland City Commission. Please feel free to write your own email or use my writing below as a sample. Feel free to edit any way you’d like. Additionally, you may attend and speak at the Commission Meeting at City Hall 228 S Massachusetts Ave on Tuesday, January 17 at 9 AM as they hear public comments concerning the issue.

Join me in this righteous fight,

Pastor Jon Friedt

Email To:

Dear Lakeland City Commission,

I am writing to express my opposition to Proposed Ordinance 23-001; Approving a Conditional Use to Allow a Bar and Special Event Venue on the Property located at 417 North Massachusetts Avenue (The Chapel Bar).

The ideas expressed in the desire of the former Federal Bar to open an establishment named “Chapel Bar” are outrageously offensive to me and anyone of the Christian Faith. The pronounced intentions of the bar owners are to keep religious terminology, furnishings, and architecture as part of their theme and environment. The Federal Bar, its owners, and its staff have plainly indicated their intent for the environment of their desired new establishment through various social media posts with pictures and videos Their efforts to backpedal from these posts are only an effort to have their request approved. Their history indicates that they will pick right up with the actions of the former Federal Bar plus the ill-natured mockery of the Christian religion.

This type of action and establishment does not harmonize with the city’s vision of supporting a vibrant, innovative, and culturally inclusive world-class community, wherein respect is valued and demonstrated equitably. It does not honor healthy family living and community peace. The downtown area is already flooded with bars. Transient traffic is extremely heavy in the area of the proposed Chapel Bar and such an establishment will only exacerbate that problem and increase crime and police demand in an already stressed area.

Lakeland and its downtown areas do not need another bar, especially one with such negative history and expressed future intent. I urge you to say “NO” to Proposed Ordinance 23-001.



*Sources* Changing Lakeland church into an event venue, bar riles religious critics (

Other Media Information…

Local Businessmen Want To Resurrect Church Building as a Bar – LkldNow (

Former Federal Bar owner seeks to revive Lakeland church for special events (

Commissioners worried over converting former church into bar (