This Labor Day weekend, South Florida restaurateur and nightlife maven Rodney Mayo is celebrating the grand opening of his thirteenth establishment. Tonight, the doors officially open for Camelot, the new late-night spot in downtown West Palm Beach. And as last night's soft opening revealed, it brings to life a unique nightlife concept.
But hold up ladies and gents: Before you go slapping on your party dress and lacing up those dancing shoes, check the mailbox for the special VIP card you'll need to get in the doors.
Oh, what's that? You didn't fill out the online application to request one of Camelot's 1,000 charter member cards? That's a shame. You'll probably have to buy one now.
You see, Camelot isn't really a nightclub -- but it's also not a lounge, nor a restaurant. It's sort of a blend of all three, something altogether unique to South Florida's party scene.
In March, Mayo shared his vision for Camelot, describing it as a late-night spot for the "sophisticated South Floridian." With his new establishment, Mayo said he hoped to attract a more high-class crowd with an upscale lounge dedicated to the "Camelot lifestyle." The place is an homage to the Kennedys' love of the ocean, sailing, and Palm Beach. The idea, said Mayo, is to bring back the memory of some of the Island's old-time, long-gone watering holes like Peter Dinkles, Conchy Joe's -- even the original Bradley's.
Over the past five years, the current Camelot's 3,500-square-foot space underwent a few incarnations, formerly clubs like Aura, Mystik, Cocoon, Metropolis, and -- long before that -- the Candy Store Lounge, which had a long run as one of downtown's only strip clubs. To help you forget the past, Mayo wasted nothing transforming the space, gutting it to create a roaming, open layout.
Inside, the décor is yachty and preppy: Framed photos of the Kennedy's spread throughout the space as though it were their family's den, a crew boat hanging from the ceiling, and nautical themed everything. As with many of his establishments, Mayo himself did most of the woodwork inside, everything from the teak-deck bar top, to a DJ booth fashioned to look like the front of a ship, and a special lounge area that makes guests appear to be sailing off into the sunset from the back of a boat.
Two bars sling high-end spirits, cocktails, wine and craft beer. The bar at the entrance also serves food from Rick's Lobsta Bar, a raw bar with a short menu of New England seafood small-bites offering light fare from 4 to 10 p.m. A back bar near a small dance floor features a giant fish tank, and is surrounded by hologram-style panoramic scenes that light up the walls to the intimate lounge space.
During a private grand opening party on Thursday, August 28, the crowd was decidedly upmarket. And that's the idea. Instead of high-volume nightclubs filled with fist-pumping, club-hopping club rats, Camelot offers a quiet, more reserved spot for those who want to chill to drink, dance, and mingle, according to Camelot operating partner Jeremiah Pitts.
Before opening, just 1,000 private membership cards were issued for the club, which give Camelot's charter members preferred entrance, said Pitts. If you don't have one of the cards emblazoned with the phrase "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot," -- then you aren't getting in. Or, you need to be with someone who does have one; each cardholder is allowed to bring one guest.
Interested in getting in, but don't know anyone with a VIP Camelot card? Visit camelotyachtclub.com, and go through the application process to request a membership card. Based on your responses to a brief questionnaire, you'll be approved or denied membership.
"We wanted to create an environment for those who don't want to be immersed in a meat market or surrounded by [people screaming] and unintelligible conversations. There are people looking for a safe haven from that, and I think Camelot will fill that void," said Mayo. "We expect everyone that comes to Camelot to act with a certain bit of class and decorum. Think of it as the new gentlemen's club, but coed."
Camelot is now open at 114 S. Narcissus Ave., West Palm Beach.