Risqué business?

Winter Garden officials say Main House Market owner Brandon Wood violated several ordinances when he hosted a burlesque show in February. Wood said he feels targeted.

Main House Market Kombucha Bar is located in dowtown Winter Garden at 108 S. Main St.
Main House Market Kombucha Bar is located in dowtown Winter Garden at 108 S. Main St.
Photo by Annabelle Sikes
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Main House Market owner Brandon Wood said he brought events such as burlesque shows and drag queen bingo to his business because he wanted to provide an all-inclusive and safe environment in Winter Garden.

But according to the city, the business doesn’t have the appropriate license to host such events. And after an undercover investigation of the business by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, Wood said he is contemplating moving his business.

“In February, the city of Winter Garden along with the Winter Garden Police Department contacted the Orlando Police Department, specifically detectives with the human trafficking division, to investigate the business for having burlesque events,” Orange County. “Individuals from the department came into the establishment as customers undercover prior to the event and as guests during the event.”

Wood said following the event, he was told he was never allowed to do burlesque again because it is illegal in Orange County. Wood said he was unfamiliar with such a law.

The OPD confirmed nothing was filed with the department and the entire investigation was handled by the MBI, an 18-agency law enforcement task force in Central Florida that targets vice, narcotics and organized crime.

Wood also shared officials from the city of Winter Garden contacted him after the investigation.

“A week later, the city of Winter Garden handed us violations claiming we need a separate business tax license, different from the three that I currently have for the location, to conduct free events inside my business,” he wrote. “A violation that other businesses in the city have not received for doing their own free public events inside their location. With all of this said, as a business owner, I think it is best for us to find a new location. I believe in an all-inclusive, safe, artistic space where we can grow and express ourselves as a business — a business that promotes communal growth and nurtures self expression.”


Wood has hosted a variety of other events, including karaoke, stand-up comedy and wine tasting. He hosted his first burlesque event in October 2022. 

According to the official MBI report, a local agent received a request for investigative assistance from the WGPD regarding complaints made to the police department of nudity and lewdness at the business.

“(The restaurant) was reportedly hosting acts (that) were sexual in nature, to include drag shows and possible strip shows,” the report reads. “Unspecified nudity was reportedly occurring at the location and complaints advised the incidents occurred at night and after hours.”

The business operates as a small goods store, with numerous small vendors with limited product inside, hosts a vegan foods shop, and sells kombucha teas and canned beers. 

The report explains the same agent conducted surveillance at the business during operating hours on Feb. 16. The agent noticed an advertisement inside for a burlesque show on Feb. 25. Upon further investigation, the agent said the event was also promoted online and was advertised for ages 21 and up for “mature content” at $15 per ticket.

The report states four MBI agents conducted an undercover operation to determine if any illegal activity was happening at the event. 

The private event took place after hours and was observed to be hosted by a male announcer with three females who performed two dances each for a “very polite, calm and mature crowd.”

“This event was a typical burlesque show, where each woman would dance to a song of their prior choice, and would dance and strip their clothes off with light interaction from the crowd,” the report reads. “The girls all stripped down to their panties and no further. They also removed their tops and had their nipples covered up with tassels or designed pasties. … At no time was a sexual organ openly displayed nor interacted with. The performers did dance within three feet of the audience, which included shaking breasts and buttocks close to the audience; and lightly interacted with the audience by touching the audience member’s shoulders, having guests pull gloves off the performer’s hands with their teeth, and placing stripped clothing on guests heads and shoulders in a humorous/seductive fashion.”

MBI said the investigation found violations of Orange County Municipal Codes as dictated in Article V, Chapter 3, in the Adult Entertainment Code, where the code is effective throughout the unincorporated area of Orange County and within any municipality, including Winter Garden. 

City officials said this is the first time they can recall that a business within city limits violated its Adult Entertainment code. 

“Wood was further educated on the municipal code and advised the business would no longer be hosting any future burlesque-style shows or anything similar involving removal of clothing,” the MBI report reads. “Wood advised (he) would continue to host private events such as drag queen bingo and other events, but they would remain tasteful and would not involve the removal of clothing.”

“I mean it’s kind of a big deal when you have accusations thrown your way,” Wood said. “It feels like I’m being accused of something that’s not true. When you send MBI human trafficking to investigate the store undercover and then come to our show and investigate … it could have just been someone coming in to speak to me or an email if there were concerns or questions. It came out of nowhere.”


The city of Winter Garden issued two code violations March 10. Those include violations to Chapter 6 – Alcoholic Beverages; Section 6-2 Business Establishment Doors, Windows, Location Near Church or Square and Chapter 66 – Taxation; Article IV. – Local Business Tax Receipts; Section 66-92. Required. 

The corrective actions required by the violations include removing “all obstructions from the front windows and door that impede the view from the exterior to the interior of the building/business,” and obtaining “business tax receipts for all businesses working at the address.”

The violation states the deadline for compliance being March 20, with the code-enforcement board being allowed to levy fines up to $250 per day per violation. 

Wood said he had curtains covering the windows but was unaware of the violation, as the city code states that “the front and windows of the place of business shall be made of clear and transparent glass.”

The second violation pertains to a separate business tax license to do events. The pertinent code states that “any local business tax for the privilege of engaging in or managing any business, profession or occupation within the corporate limits of the city is required and shall be levied on any person who: maintains a permanent business location or branch office within the city for the privilege of engaging in or managing an business within its jurisdiction and maintains a permanent business location or branch office within the city for the privilege of engaging in or managing any profession or occupation within its jurisdiction.”

City officials said the business has approvals to operate as the following primary uses: a retail store, a kombucha cafe and a deli. 

“The establishment does not have a license or zoning approvals to operate as any other type of business, including to operate as an entertainment venue,” Jayne Behrle, communications and marketing manager with the city, said. “If the business is hosting events after normal business operations, an indoor theater license is required. The business owner has not applied for such a license.”

To help further clarify, Behrle said if normal business operations have to shut down completely to host events, they are considered a primary use of the business and must be considered separately. 

Per the city’s knowledge, “the only businesses operating without the proper licenses is MHM -— and possibly LiveTrends.” City officials said they are meeting with LiveTrends.

“Events … may be set up differently than they are during normal business hours, such as additional seats, occupancy concerns, ADA requirements, adequate ingress/egress in case of a fire, adequate parking, etc.,” Behrle said. “The city only has knowledge of business operations as it pertains to a business’ existing business licenses. To operate as an entertainment venue/indoor theater would require applying for the applicable business license so the city can ensure all of the code requirements are being met.”

“The city of Winter Garden has a thriving business community,” the city said in a prepared statement. “If a business runs afoul with the established code or business license, the city will work with the business owner in an attempt to find a solution to the code violations.”

The city said it has requested to meet with Wood to address the business’ code violations.

“I take my role as a city official very seriously, and it is of paramount importance to treat everyone equally regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other external factors,” Kelly Carson, planning director for the city, said. “The city needs to understand how any new aspect of a business is operating to ensure all code requirements are being met. We require this of every business operating in the city, and MHM is no exception.”


Wood was born and raised in Winter Garden. He is a sixth-generation Winter Garden resident and-fourth generation business owner.

Although he said he never thought he would open his business in Winter Garden, he felt it was fate when the spot became available. MHM opened July 31, 2021, at 108 S. Main St.

“The downtown area, not only being from here, but there’s a lot of food traffic and a lot of people coming in and out of Winter Garden,” Wood said. “My family still lives on Main Street, so for my business to be right here is special.”

Wood shared he is a gay business owner in the community.

“I grew up here, and I was bullied,” he said. “I was beaten up and called every name you could think of walking down the street. When I came back here and saw how much the area had grown and changed, I knew I wanted to be part of it. As a business owner, I’ve always aimed to create an all-inclusive and all-accepting environment for everyone. I wanted it to be diverse and to let anyone know walking in that they could feel safe here.”

Wood said he wants to bring activities such as burlesque and drag queen bingo to the Winter Garden community.

“I wanted to be able to bring that stuff here into my business, into the place that I call my home,” he said. “I want to give other kids that were like me or other people a space to feel that they were safe and included. That’s what I still want to continue to do.”

However, not everyone agrees.

“West Orange, particularly the Windermere, Winter Garden and Hamlin area, is a very clean, orderly and family friendly area,” resident Thomas Heffern said. “Although there is a current popular fascination with the drag scene, that does not mean it is appropriate or normal for most social situations. ... Although I understand this is a free country, I would exercise my rights to vote for policies that restrict this kind of activity in our community.”

Ye’vette Toms agreed.

“Today’s society would like to normalize, desensitize and ignore the truth behind these shows,” she said. “This includes drag performances. I am not one who comes to conclusions without experience. I have been to a few drag shows on Orange Blossom trail and a burlesque show. One would have to be a fool to not understand that these performances are sexual in nature. They should not ever be ‘fun for the whole family.’”

She said it’s because of this that she does not believe burlesque should be allowed in Winter Garden. 

“If you go to the Winter Garden website, the first thing you see is the tagline, ‘Where good things grow,’” she said. “I do not think growing crowds of people looking for sexualized entertainment is part of ‘good.’ It is not as simple as, ‘just don’t take children there,’ or, ‘there should be age restrictions.’ We do not want Winter Garden turning into OBT.”

Rhiannon Neuharth said she has been a patron of MHM since it opened. She said she has lived in Winter Garden for six years and never had a reason to venture downtown until the business opened.

“I was thrilled to support an all-inclusive establishment with inclusive values that offered items my family and I could enjoy,” she said. “Inclusive businesses such as MHM help to promote a more inclusive and accepting society by providing opportunities for everyone to succeed.”

Kelly Kusterman is saddened by the “blatant targeting and unfair treatment of the LGBTQ community.”

“I’m disappointed in our local government and that people can stand by and allow this to happen,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every event I’ve attended at MHM. Smiles, laughs and fun in an environment where you could be yourself and know you were welcome. Who doesn’t appreciate a place like that? That’s the kind of city and community I want to raise my kids in. Unfortunately, I’m not sure Winter Garden is headed in that direction.”



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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