HP at PTL’s grand opening Nov. 24. (Photo courtesy Steve Donahue)
PTL Nightclub — which stands for power, truth and love and bills itself as a space “where the party never stops” — officially opened in 2022. The Honey Pot had previously served the LGBTQ+ community in the space for nearly 14 years.
The club was a venture of the Florida Entertainment Group, which also operated defunct LGBTQ+ bars like Ybor’s G Bar, now Southern Nights Tampa, and St. Petersburg’s G St. Pete. They announced the venue would permanently close in March 2021 following a year of restricted operations and citywide shutdowns.
“Despite our best attempts and hopes of reopening at our current location, the mounting expenses of maintaining the business while shut down without income for months has made it impossible to recover financially,” they shared via social media. “We are currently looking at other opportunities and hope to be back with a new venue shortly along with many more years of fun, parties, music & dancing!”
Dozens of LGBTQ+-focused events have been thrown in Honey Pot’s name since. Massive dance parties have been held at The Castle in Ybor, The Floridian Social in St. Petersburg and more, coinciding with major Pride events and holidays.
Now, through the new partnership deemed HP and PTL, The Honey Pot has returned home. Hundreds of supporters attended their grand opening in their former space Nov. 24.
“It’s so good to be back,” Managing Partner Steve Donahue says. “It felt amazing and I saw so many old friends I hadn’t seen in years!”
“I hope we help bring back the neighborhood,” he adds. “Ybor has been getting a bad reputation lately and another gay business should help bring back safety in numbers and the old tradition of parking once and bar-hopping between the clubs.”
Other familiar faces are involved with the venture. Donahue partnered with Justin Weiss, who previously worked with The Honey Pot’s sound and lighting, and is supported by Laval Rhone, a longtime manager and promoter who bartended during the grand opening.
“From what I saw the customers that I served for years were really happy to have us back,” he says. “As for the newbies that had heard of our legendary parties, it was even more of a blessing for them to experience it now.”
HP at PTL is currently scheduled for Friday nights, with plans to launch a weekly, female-focused Sugar Saturdays night starting Dec. 9. Events surrounding Gasparilla and Tampa Pride are also in the works.
“We were happy to see the turnout because we missed the community as much as they missed us,” Rhone says. “We’re happy to be back and are looking forward to throwing a lot of successful parties and offering that safe space for people to come out and have a good time.”
HP at PTL takes place Friday Nights at PTL Nightclub, located at 1507 E. 7th Ave. in Tampa. Recurring Sugar Saturdays begin Dec. 9. For more information, visit Facebook.com/HoneyPotHP.