You no longer have to wait who the winners are in Palm Beach for Best Of 2022. Read them below.
Reader’s Choice: Personal Trainer: Jackeey Bish
On ZOO Gym Lake Worth’s website, it congratulates its trainer/manager Jackeey Bish, who has won Best Personal Trainer.
"It feels fantastic! I've worked so hard on this,” said Bish in 2021. “I've been at the ZOO Gym for 11 years. First we opened the gym, then from there I started studying and doing what I have to so I can help people more, versus just selling gym memberships and being a part of the gym. Hearing that I won the award again, just warms my heart even more.”
On Bish’s Facebook page, it says the service for personal fitness training for new clients is $99 for three sessions, 45 minutes long.
Runner-up: Thomas Hayden
Best Palm Beach Restaurant: Howley’s
Howley’s, located on S Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, is Palm Beach county’s Best Restaurant of 2022. Howleys was first opened in the 1950’s and was purchased by the Subculture Group in 2004, who restored it to its former glory for the public.
Howley’s boasts affordable food, a quiet atmosphere, and kind and courteous staff. Howley’s is a great friend to the LGBT community, hiring many LGBT community members and donating to LGBTQ+-oriented events and fundraisers.
Howleys is open from 7 a.m. to midnight during the week, and 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. on the weekends. It’s a great place to go for the after-bar recharge.
Runner-up: Lilo's Street Food & Bar
Hidden Gem (Not food or beverage): Silverball Museum
The Silverball Museum is located in Delray Beach and has been in business since 2016. If you need a dose of nostalgia, Silverball is where you need to be. They are your go-to place for vintage arcade games like Space Invaders, Ms. Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong.
“It feels wonderful and humbling to be awarded "Hidden Gem" by the readers of SFGN,” said manager Dayna DiDomenico. “We love to see the smiles on our guests' faces while they are experiencing all that Silverball has to offer. We owe all of our success to the wonderful Silverball family who works tirelessly and effortlessly every day to make Silverball what it is for our customers, and we especially owe our gratitude to our Silverball guests who support the business and give us amazing accolades such as this. Our hope is to continue to spread that joy for many years to come!”
Runner-up: Box Gallery
Best Hidden Gem for Food: Kona Bay Cafe
310 E Ocean Ave, Lantana
Kona Bay Cafe is located on East Ocean Avenue in Lantana right next to the Lantana Bicentennial Park. Open daily for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., this restaurant boasts a diverse and affordable menu with delicious food.
Kona Bay Cafe is also located next to a boat ramp, which makes it a perfect pre or post-boating food choice. In addition to these offerings, Kona Bay Cafe offers unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s for weekend brunching.
While grateful for the honor, managers at Kona Bay Cafe were humble and not sure what to say about this recognition. Kona Bay Cafe is a great place for breakfast and lunch with dog-friendly outdoor seating.
Runner-up: Monka's Beer and Burger Bar
Best Burger: Brass Ring Pub
This year’s best burger goes to the Brass Ring Pub. Brass Ring has three locations in Palm Beach County, one in North Palm Beach, one in Royal Palm Beach, and one in Jupiter. Each location has the same offerings.
With an open and accepting atmosphere combined with a delicious menu, Brass Ring has it all. Don't let the lack of fancy names fool you. The nine burger options available at Brass Ring range from a standard burger with nothing on it to cheeseburgers with spice, mushroom and bacon. They also boast a veggie burger!
All three locations have slightly different hours, but all open at 11 a.m. Check out the one closest to you for a delicious burger!
Runner Up: Howley’s
Best Local Activist (Not Named Julie Seaver): Dylan Brooks
Dylan Brooks, Director of HIV Prevention and Education at Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center in Lake Worth Beach, is this year’s best Palm Beach County Activist.
Dylan has been in the field of HIV prevention for 10 years, starting as a volunteer for AIDS Athens in Athens, Georgia before moving to Palm Beach County.
“The people I've worked with, places I've seen, and things I've had the opportunity to do here have been unparalleled to anything I've ever done,” said Brooks. “ I wouldn't be able to do the work I do without the support of the community, the amazing staff and Board of Compass, and our dedicated volunteers who do so much for us. Thank you for the honor!"
Dylan’s advocacy continues and will continue as he works to End the HIV Epidemic in Palm Beach County with other community partners.
“As I have watched Dylan grow in his leadership these last few years, it’s no surprise to any of us that he was chosen best LGBTQ activist. Dylan has truly built a bridge between the generations on discussions around safer sex, PrEP and prioritizing your mental health,” said Julie Seaver, CEO of Compass. “I am inspired daily by Dylan’s continuous growth in his skill set and now in his journey to becoming a mental health professional. He is truly a unicorn amongst unicorns and we couldn’t be prouder of Dylan serving on the Compass team of program directors.”
Runner-up: Rolando Chang Barrero
Best Politician NOT Named Lois Frankel: Sarah Malega
“I am proud that we have been very productive in moving the needle, where we can, within the City of Lake Worth Beach,” said Sarah Malega. “Our employees can now have their pronouns printed on their City badges, we now have an LGBTQ liaison for residents and employees alike. This award is for every person who supported me, encouraged me, put their time and finances into the election that brought me to where I am today, without you none of this would have happened.”
Malega is the District One City Commissioner of Lake Worth Beach, where she also is a resident. Malega owns The Zoo Gym in LWB. Our readers have voted her business as “Best Gym” for Palm Beach seven times in a row. This is the first time Malega has been awarded in this category.
Runner-up: Christina Lambert (West Palm Beach City Commissioner)
Best Bartender: Marc D. @ The Mad Hatter Lounge
This year’s Best Bartender goes to Marc D. of the Mad Hatter Lounge in Lake Worth Beach. Marc has been bartending in the gay community for the last four years and has been involved in the LGBT community for the last 10 years.
“Finding my place in bartending has allowed me to have my own journey as a gay trans person,” Marc said. “I’ve found community in all of the friends I’ve made at the bar. I’m happy to know that I’ve been able to support this community in even half the way you all support me, and I want to thank you all for voting for me as your favorite bartender.”
Marc is 25 years old and born in Cuba. He’s been in Palm Beach County since he was two years old. You can catch him at the Mad Hatter Lounge in Lake Worth beach for happy hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Runner-up: Alex @ Harry's Banana Farm
Best Local Server: Suzanne Friel
Suzanne Friel is a server and bartender at Lilo’s Streetfood and Bar in Lake Worth Beach. Originally from California, Friel moved to Palm Beach County in 1996. She’s worked for Lilo’s for over four years and is honored by the recognition.
“Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve always appreciated and admired the openness and acceptance from the LGBTQ+ community,” Friel said. “I’ve always felt a connection and am proud to be an ally! I am honored to just be considered. Thank you.”
Friel can be found regularly at Lilo’s Streetfood and Bar, always ready for a drag show or fundraiser. When asked for a final quote, she said, “Life is Short... Buy the Shoes.”
Runner-up: Jazz @ Howley's
Best Nonprofit in Palm Beach: Compass Community Center
Compass Community Center, located in Lake Worth Beach, has been a staple of the LGBT community in Palm Beach County since its inception. Compass was founded as the Stop AIDS Project in 1988 and rebranded as Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center in 1922.
Compass holds many LGBT community events in Palm Beach County and serves LGBT youth as well as people living with HIV. Compass holds many other support events, including the Coffee Clatch, Compass Entourage, and the Bereavement group.
“On behalf of the Compass Board of directors, we are honored and privileged to serve this incredible organization we call family,” said Nicholas Coppola, Co-Chair Compass Board of Directors. “This honor is a testament to the lifesaving work and dedication of our CEO, Julie Seaver and her entire team of staff and volunteers. Thank you SFGN and everyone who voted for us, your continued support is greatly appreciated.”
Compass hosts Palm Beach Pride in Lake Worth Beach every March, bringing together thousands of Palm Beach residents and LGBT-supporting businesses and organizations for a day of drag, dancing, music and fun.
Runner-up: Night Runners WPB
Best Drag Performer: Melissa St. John
Long live the queen! Six-time winner Melissa St. John is once again Palm Beach County’s favorite drag performer. Her illustrious career spans more than 25 years. The First Lady of Palm Beach continues to perform at venues and events throughout South Florida, where she remains a fan favorite.
Off stage, St. John is a passionate fundraiser and philanthropist. She's been an HIV/AIDS activist and an advocate for over 30 years.
“I'm so honored for again being chosen as Palm Beach County Best Drag Queen,” she said. “Our community means so much to me, and it brings me great pleasure knowing I've made a difference and will continue to do so. Thank you all for so many years of support, and together we can continue to raise our voices on all issues that are most important to us.”
Runner-up: Rianna Petrone
Best Artist and Gallery: Rolando Barrero and the Box Gallery
811 Belvedere Rd, West Palm Beach
Rolando Barrero is the owner of the Box Gallery in West Palm Beach. He and his Gallery have been recognized as the Best Artist and Best Gallery of 2022. This is Berrero’s second year being selected as Best Artist. Best Gallery won in a reader’s choice category.
Of his artistry, Barrero said, “I try to create culturally relevant and thought-provoking work without compromise.” His latest piece, “The Family,” was recently installed as a public art piece at the Opportunity Early Childhood Education & Family Center in West Palm Beach.
“The Box Gallery will continue to maintain its reputation as a First Amendment space where all voices can be amplified through the arts,” Barrero said of his gallery. Barrero cultivates diverse styles of art and does not prioritize any one style over another.
“All art is welcome here,” he said.
Runner Up Artist: Juan Carlos Badia Cabero
Runner Up Gallery: Norton Museum of Art
Best Place to Workout / Social Group Palm Beach: Night Runners WPB
Night Runners West Palm Beach was formed in 2017 to provide a space for LGBT people and allies to come together and build community through running. It has grown in popularity over the years and boasts groups of 30-40 people at regular runs.
“Night Runners WPB would like to thank everyone for their continued support since 2016! Our mission is to enthusiastically promote health, diversity, and camaraderie through physical activity (running) and friendship for everyone,” The Night Runners board shared. “Together, we continue to grow within our community and bring a safe place to all. We will continue to host free weekly runs/walks for our community, while contributing to our mission and raising money for local charities. Laces tied and ready to run!”
Night Runners hosts regularly scheduled runs at Howard Park every Monday and Thursday at 8 p.m. They are hosting a Pride 5k on June 2, 2023 in honor of pride month.
Runner-up for Workout: The Zoo Health Club - Downtown Lake Worth)
Runner-up: BLAST (Bi, Lesbian and Straight Together) Women of WPB
Best Business Owner: Ron Amodio
“I am beyond humbled to win this award,” said Ron Amodio. “I could not do it without help from my amazing staff. We have some of the best patrons in the world. So, thank you SFGN readers from the bottom of my heart.”
The Mad Hatter Lounge is owned by Ron Amodio and located in Lake Worth Beach. He purchased the bar in 2012, with the late Tim Rice. Under Amodio’s management, the bar continues to provide experiences that keep patrons coming back, and furthermore increasing their reputation of being one of the friendliest bars in Palm Beach. MHL is famous for their Lei mei Laui, holiday parties, super friendly bartenders, and fabulous decorations. Amodio also has partnered with another gay bar HG Roosters, to allow some of their employees to work while their building is being rebuilt. This is the first time Amodia has won this award.
Runner-up: Penny Johnson (Eastside Eatery)
Best Neighborhood: Downtown Lake Worth Beach
Downtown Lake Worth Beach is constantly being talked about for its laid-back flavor and unique social gatherings. No matter the night, downtown LWB is the remedy for any vibe. There are several other reasons why LWB rocks, its home to The Street Painting Festival and Palm Beach Pride, one of the largest and friendliest LGBTQ events in the region. The seven-square-mile city is layered with eclectic boutiques, art galleries, plenty of restaurants, and a variety of local entertainment. LWB is the culture hotspot you never knew you needed. This is the first time LWB has received this award.
“Thank you SFGN readers for choosing our fun, eclectic and funky neighborhood,” said the owner of Rudy Pub MaryBeth Sisoian, located downtown. Thank you for supporting our unique, welcoming, and charming downtown businesses! We appreciate you so much and this wonderful news just made my day!"
Runner-up: Northwood Village
Best Entertainer: Big Mama
“Thank you so much for this honor,” said Big Mama. “I'm beyond thankful for the support and love from the community. Please keep in mind that the only thing between a good day and a bad day is your attitude. Live the best life that you know how to live.”
In Hollywood, the EGOT is one of the highest honors to have. If this West Palm Beach resident was in Hollywood, he would most definitely have one. The awardee is a well-sought-after drag performer, comedian, and singer. Big Mama also runs the highly successful Big Mama House of Sweets as well as Big Mama’s Drag Show and Brunch. As you can see, the word “big” not only describes his height, it symbolizes his talent too.
This is Big Mama’s second time winning the award, making him the first and only person to win the award.
Palm Beach County’s Best Food Truck: Eastside Eatery
Penny Johnson was the owner and operator of the popular Lantana bar, Penny’s at the Duke. The eclectic bar was beloved by many and hosted regular karaoke nights, drag bingo events, and fundraisers for Compass and other community organizations.
When Penny’s bar closed in 2021, she took on her new venture: Eastside eatery. The food truck quickly became a staple in the local LGBT community, offering delicious bites at affordable prices.
“I’m honored and want to thank everyone who has supported us. Only 6 months into this business, and this is a great way to start,” Johnson said. “I want to especially thank Mad Hatter for always accommodating us.”
Runner-up: McCrays BBQ
Reader’s Choice: Trans Advocate: Michael Riordan
"Thank you for this honor. I want to share a message with transgender people: I know times are tough right now but please understand that you are valid, you are loved, and you have every right to live the life that brings you peace and fulfillment. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise . . . ever!"
Michael Riordan is a fearless trans woman and Director of Marketing at Compass Community Center in Lake Worth Beach. Riordan has worked at Compass for seven years, and she also is an LWB resident. This is the first time Riordan has received an award from SFGN, based on her current and previous involvement, this will not be her last. When Riordan is not being an advocate for the trans community, she spends her time hanging with dear friends, sipping tea, napping, and throwing shade.
Runner-up: Velvet Lenore
Best Palm Beach County Pizza: Pizza Girls
Pizza Girls restaurant was a staple in Palm Beach County until September 30, when they were forced to suddenly shut down. Their Palm Beach Gardens location was met with a sudden contract change, and the owners, Jen and Phoebe, decided to retire. Pizza Girls had a 27-year run and were well-loved by customers.
Pizza Girls owners were optimistic about their retirement. In a Facebook post October 3, the owners said, “We will remain the Pizza Girls. We keep Social Media. I have a book in the works of the 27 years of Pizza Girls shenanigans!” Jen and Phoebe will spend their retirement traveling in their RV and reviewing pizza along the way.
Jen and Phoebe were grateful for the recognition and were sorry to say goodbye. Keep an eye on their social media and wish them the best.
Runner-up: Downtown Pizza
All courtesy photos.
Read the Best Of 2022 Issue on Issuu.com.