Palace Bar of South Beach on 1200 Ocean Dr. is set to leave the place it's called home for nearly 30 years on Tuesday, July 4. Is it this the case where people can jump in and yell, "another bar killed by Grindr?" Definitely not.
The location, building and all, which houses 23 residential units as well as the Place Bar was sold just shy of the mandatory 40-year renovation and recertification. What does this mean for Palace Bar owner Thomas Donall and his drag queens?
Palace's Last Dance Sessions started at the beginning of June and end appropriately enough on a holiday known for fireworks. The bar plans to go out with a bang Tuesday, as Donall says the City of Miami Beach is helping them set up a block party on 12th Street, closing off the area between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. The block parties have been a Palace fixture in the past for events such as Winter Party, White Party and Miami Beach Gay Pride. Donall says it's fitting the South Florida LGBT venue ends its tenure at the 1200 location the same way.
"The city is allowing us to close down the street for this massive all-out block party like we've done before for Pride and White Party," Donall said. "Only this time it's extra special because it's our last party at 1200 Ocean Dr. We have a huge schedule of events planned for the entire weekend, culminating on the Fourth of July with 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. brunches and fireworks. If the Palace has ever meant anything to you, you need to come out, show your support and help us go out in style." – SFGN.com
The building was purchased by Steve Kassin’s Infinity Real Estate in 2016 the building for more than $15 million. We wonder if he knows he is buying a staple of Ocean Drive.
The Palace opened in 1988 as the only restaurant on Ocean Drive, quickly attracting celebrities like Elton John, Madonna, Princess Diana, Gianni Versace and so on. It has risen to it's highest level of accomplishments in the last decade under the direction of Donall. He added daily drag on-the-street shows, drag brunches, weekly T-Dances and free block parties for Pride, White Party and Winter Party weekends.
"Palace has been an institution for the last 30 years," local resident Antonio Alfonso said. "If they are coming to an end, what's left of gay South Beach in my opinion is not much to entice me to drive to the beach in horrible traffic and then having to pay $20 to park. Let's face it, Miami Beach is not what it used to be and it will never be again… not if the multi-million dollar developers have a say." – SFGN.com
Head over to South Florida Gay News to hear about what South Beach has done, hasn't done, and what people feel the city should be doing to help Palace Bar.
As its slogan goes "every queen needs a Palace," without the Palace, what are the South Florida queens to do?
Owner Donall warns his followers — including the haters — that no matter how long they are gone, "a month, maybe two," Palace will return. "This is not farewell. It's a 'see ya soon,'" Donall said.
To receive the latest information about Palace's final show and relocation, text the word PALACE to 64600.