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; palacesouthbeach.com. Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.