Thomas Donall, owner of the Palace Restaurant and Bar on Ocean Drive notes that COVID-19 immediately changed business as he and the Miami community knew it. “Our Friday, Saturday and Sunday brunches were packed, as were our legendary Sunday Tea Dances and all the events happening at the rooftop pool bar” Donall states.
The Palace had just expanded their shows to showcase new drag performers, and then the pandemic struck, rapidly closing all non-essential businesses in Miami. “I thought that after a few weeks, we’d be back to normal. No one could have anticipated that we would be in this quarantine for so long,” he says.
Being closed for such an extended period of time has killed the bottom line for Palace. “The rent bills haven’t stopped and without income, everyone at the Palace is feeling the squeeze,” Donall explains. Unfortunately, Donall has had to lay off close to his entire staff to even stay afloat. He says it was definitely the hardest thing he has ever had to do, as the Palace is the sole source of income for many of its drag performers and back end employees.
Palace is doing its part to try and ease some of the financial crunch in the best way that they know how; with killer performances! Palace has been hosting virtual Saturday and Sunday brunch performances on Instagram. Palace showstoppers TP Lords and Tiffany Fantasia serve as emcees with a variety of Palace’s fabulous cast members delivering spectacular performances. direct from their homes.
Palace has also launched a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/raise-money-for-palace-bar-miami-staff to help raise money for its performers, bartenders, servers, and front and back of the house staff members. “We encourage our patrons to contribute if they can. The staff are all very grateful for any contribution.”
While Palace remains closed for the time being, Donall is diligently working on both updates and improvements to the space. The entire bar has been cleaned from top to bottom, both inside and out. Both he and the employees he has been able to keep on staff have re-painted the outside façade, all of the tables, and they’re even re-painting the performer’s dressing area so the drag queens have a fresh new space when they return to once again, turn the party in only the way that these girls can.
“I think a by-product of all of this is going to be change in behavior,” Donall reflects. “This experience has been very humbling for all of us. It shows that in the blink of an eye, anything can change and everything can be taken away without notice, including our freedom.”
Donall is looking forward; when the Palace doors open again, which he says will be as soon as safety allows. “My entire staff are ready to rock the Palace house down. We all cannot wait for the thrill of welcoming everyone back together again.”
Keep updated on the Palace’s big reopening and all other news at palacesouthbeach.com