Miami Beach Bars Palace and Sandbar Lounge Are Closing

The Palace's famous drag show on Ocean Drive.
The Palace's famous drag show on Ocean Drive. Photo by Kristin Bjornsen
Miami Beach will lose some of its glitter and history with the announcement that two beloved bars are shuttering: the Palace Bar and the Sandbar Lounge.

South Beach's iconic gay hot spot Palace Bar is closing due to renovations being made to its home on 12th and Ocean Drive.

The drag-queen-driven bar has been an Ocean Drive fixture for nearly 30 years. The bar and restaurant, which features weekend drag shows, welcomes everyone. Gay or straight, local or tourist flock to the bar for a post-beach cocktail or the Palace's famous Sunday drag queen brunch.

Miami's most beloved drag performers call the Palace home, including Tiffany Fantasia, Missy Meyakie, LePaige, and Melissa Hilton.

More importantly, the bar is a strong advocate for the city's LGBT community, serving as both a meeting place and a proud symbol of acceptance for all.

The announcement was made on the Palace's Facebook page:
"After twenty-nine wonderful years at the corner of 12th Street and Ocean Drive, the future of the Palace Bar has been challenged by the sale of the building and the pending renovations by the new owners.

The Palace Bar is the Foundation for what has become one of South Beach's legendary and iconic LGBT meeting places, 1200 Ocean Drive. The pride colored crosswalks and honorary street sign are proof of the city's support and endorsement of the community and value it brings to South Beach."
The final closing date of the current location is yet to be determined, but Palace management is scouting new locations, adding with an upbeat tone, "The truth of the matter is that this situation presents us with a fantastic opportunity to grow."

According to the Real Deal, New Yorker Steve Kassin’s Infinity Real Estate paid $15.25 million to acquire the mixed-use building. The seller in the transaction, 1200 Ocean Associates Ltd., is tied to Goldman Properties, which is better known these days for leading Wynwood's transformation.
Further up the beach, the Sandbar Lounge, a well-known locals hangout for a quarter of a century, faces the same fate. The bar, located at 6752 Collins Ave., will close on April 29 after 25 years of serving food and drinks.

In a Facebook statement, the bar's owner, Valentine said that North Beach development is 
"forcing changes and we can no longer remain at 6752 Collins Ave. I want to thank everyone for a fun, wild, crazy and never boring 25 years. I will be taking a much needed break. We are currently in search of a new home. Our closing party nights will April 28th and 29th. Please stop in and say see ya later. Also please do not remove anything as will be going to new establishment, I am trying to carry all the good times and good vibes with us. The Sandbar Lounge Facebook page will remain open and it will inform you on our developments."
Though seemingly different in tone, the Palace Bar and the Sandbar Lounge have distinctly similar Miami Beach stories: the two bars have long histories of serving the communities in which they reside, and both are being forced out from their locations due to rapid gentrification.

Both establishments have resolved to find new homes. However, in a city that changes from one moment to the next, Miami Beach needs its iconic bars and establishments more than ever.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss

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