Step inside R House, and you’re immediately transported by the elegant and modern ambiance. The many canvases that hang from its walls (all of which are available for purchase) give the space a feel that rivals that of the art galleries and showrooms in Wynwood. It’s clear that co-owners Rocco Carulli and Owen Bale want their taste in fine art to reflect in the casual fine dining experience.
But while R House has been recognized for its elevated menu, it’s their weekend drag shows that have turned it into a Miami mainstay.
The restaurant wasn’t always an entertainment destination. The first drag brunch was held in celebration of Chef Rocco’s 49th birthday as a one-off experience that became an unexpected draw for locals. Brunch at R House has since developed a loyal following which has been the key to its success. Now, the venue is adding Saturday drag shows, with new performers and a new format.
“The biggest difference between us and other drag venues is that we don’t cater to tourists. We are a local hotspot. Which is what helps us coast through the slow summer months…and when you have something in Wynwood that gives you Wynwood but also something else, it makes people want to to come here,” drag show producer and host Athena Dion explains. “ Locals get to know the host, know the queens, know the owners, know the staff — it’s definitely a hometown place.”
Regular customers can expect to see some different faces in the show; new performers are being selected based on auditions last weekend. And they’ll be performing at longer stretches, too. While Sunday’s performers work the crowd intermittently throughout two seatings, each for about 15 minutes at a time, on Saturday the multi-performer show lasts for one single two-hour stretch.
At some drag shows, guests must admire performers from a distance. Not at R House. Here, you’re not only expected to watch the drag, but performers and even the restaurant staff are trained to encourage audience participation. This is a place that represents the Miami community as a whole, not just the gay community, and where everyone is made to feel welcome — whether it be a 7 year old in celebration of her birthday or an 85 year old granny with a penchant for twerking.
“People in Miami sometimes feel like they don’t fit in in Miami,” adds Athena. “This is a place where everyone can feel at home. It’s like [the TV show] Cheers — with queens.”
Beginning on November 17 you can catch an all-new brunch performance every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., followed by a happy hour that includes bottomless mojitos and margaritas. While the Saturday event is brand new, their signature Sunday brunch still remains and offers up two showtimes for entertainment starved diners.
Which came first: the public’s love of brunch or their love of drag shows? It’s hard to say. But the two make for a sumptuous pairing at R House in Wynwood.
Drag Brunch. 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at R House, 2727 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0201; rhousewynwood.com. Brunch costs $40 per person; admission without brunch costs $25.