Palace Bar Reopens on Ocean Drive

The queens of the Palace are back on Ocean Drive.
The queens of the Palace are back on Ocean Drive. Photo by Dale Stine
The Palace Bar, the long-standing mecca of food, drinks, and entertainment in Miami Beach, has reopened in a new home right on Ocean Drive.

The Palace closed with a blowout celebration July Fourth, when owner Thomas Donall vowed to reopen the iconic LGBT hot spot at "a bigger location that has a hotel and make it an LGBT center." Donall made sure to keep the Palace in the hearts and minds of the community by hosting a weekly tea dance at the Clevelander until the new space was ready.

The nightclub owner made good on his promise, opening the new Palace during White Party weekend. The larger location features indoor and outdoor space, including a front patio with awnings allowing the famous Palace girls to perform unencumbered.

Donall says that, although he looked at other spaces in South Beach, it was important for the Palace to remain on Ocean Drive. "If I took it off the Drive, it would never have been the same. It wouldn't have been the Palace."

With that in mind, he set out to find a spot even before the original Palace closed. "I spent weeks and months driving up and down Ocean Drive with my scooter, talking to property owners. The one I ultimately chose was one of the first locations I looked it."
Even so, relocating the beloved bar proved difficult. "On Ocean Drive, everyone wants key money," he says. "I'm sweating today because this is the biggest amount of money I've ever spent on a property."

Donall says he's banking on the investment to pay off. "We have a 20-year lease, and the space is bigger and it has good energy. I really think people will support it."

The bar owner says he has seen the Palace evolve over the years into a Miami Beach icon. "In the beginning, the Palace was mostly frequented by the LGBT community. Now families around the world come and enjoy our shows."

One thing hasn't changed and won't if Donall has his say. "I always try to keep prices reasonable. I never want to take advantage of the LGBT community. I only want to give everyone a good experience."

Palace Bar.
1052 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-7234; Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
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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