Cliché Restaurant is everything you’d expect and more

Delores T. Van-Cartier at Cliche last month. (Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent)

DUNEDIN, Fla. | Cliché Restaurant, Bar & Grill isn’t just one of Tampa Bay’s newest LGBTQ+  safe spaces, it’s also Delores T. Van-Cartier’s dream.

The drag entertainer and entrepreneur has a Master’s in Business and decades of experience in the hospitality industry. She says she’s dreamed of opening her own restaurant since she was eight years old.

“That was nearly 40 years ago,” Van-Cartier says. “I remember sitting in our living room writing down how many waiters I wanted to have and who was going to be in the kitchen. I had my mom doing security at the door, things like that. It’s always been something that I wanted to do.”

She began scouting for a location in 2020, a pandemic-delayed process that accelerated in March 2023. That’s when Hamburger Mary’s Clearwater announced its impending and permanent closure.

The show bar opened in 2013 and was the last remaining franchise in the region, outlasting Ybor, Brandon and St. Petersburg. Van-Cartier had worked in all but St. Petersburg and ended her time at Clearwater on cast.

“When I joined the Hamburger Mary’s family I thought it was a really great brand,” she says. “When Clearwater closed, it put everything into high gear.”

Cliché became a spiritual successor of sorts just over a year later. Van-Cartier invited her fellow entertainers from the venue to become her cast of divas and held a grand opening April 20.

“When people think of drag at a restaurant, they have certain expectations,” she says. “That’s where ‘Cliché’ came from — it’s what you expect from a drag queen show bar — but we don’t only do drag queen shows.”

Cliché features regular entertainment from live, local musicians during the week, as well as recurring events like Bingo. Its divas headline dinner shows Friday and Saturday evenings and lead a brunch on Sundays:

In addition to Van-Cartier, regular cast members include Amanda D’Rhod, Antwanette Chanel-Roberts, Dena Cass, Juno Vibranz, Kamden T. Rage, Melanie Minyon and Yvonne Divina.

“I want you to come for the food and stay for the show,” Van-Cartier says. “Stay for the entertainment. It’s not all about the drag aspect, it’s about being a part of a community that needs something.”

The menu was conceptualized by Van-Cartier herself and has been well received thus far. It consists of widely celebrated and reimagined appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, vegan options and other specialties. Cliché also offers signature cocktails, beer and wine, with nonalcoholic staples as well.

“Someone gave me some advice: don’t put anything on the menu that I wouldn’t eat — and knowing how to cook, it became a mix of what I like, what others like and what they might want to see on the menu,” Van-Cartier explains. “I love food.”

Outside of taking pride in the restaurant’s many offerings, from the dining options to its drag, she also recognizes the significance of Cliché’s ownership. Van-Cartier is a Black, trans woman, among the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I like to consider myself a role model, if I can boast a little bit,” she says. “I believe in doing things the correct way. Work has always been my number one focus and being a trans woman, coming into myself, has been secondary.

“I’ve always wanted to have a legacy to leave behind,” she adds. “So if I could say anything to my trans siblings it’s that it’s possible. You just have to work at it. This is all a big accomplishment and it hasn’t fully hit me yet.”

Van-Cartier also says Cliché has received an outpouring of support for the community, something she promises to return in kind.

“We’ll be here,” she notes. “I’ll be here. We have great food, great entertainment and great energy. Come see us.”

Cliché Restaurant, Bar & Grill is located at1056 Main St. in Dunedin. Hours vary. For more information, call 727-734-0005 and visit

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