KEY WEST: Gay Bar Owner Feeds Hundreds

The Palm Beach Post reports:

After 25 years in Key West, Jim Gilleran knows residents need a cold beer, a hot meal and a place to reconnect after a hurricane. While most bars and restaurants remain shuttered on Duval Street, Gilleran opened his 801 Bar hours after Hurricane Irma smashed past the island. He’s kept his generator operating since, serving nearly 700-800 free meals a day.

On Thursday, the bar stools were packed with sweaty, unshowered, hungry residents anticipating a steak lunch while staff gave out bags of donated food and toiletries. “Honey, you need anything?” asked a worker carrying a basket of facial wipes, toothpaste and tampons.

“My father taught me to take care of myself and my family so I can take care of my community,” Gilleran said on the day civilization slowly crept back into Key West, or at least as much as this idiosyncratic city at the very southern tip of the U.S. will allow.

801 Bar is most famous for its drag shows and its busking queens outside on the sidewalk.

  • Amanda B. Rekendwith

    Take note, Joel Osteen.

  • skyweaver

    More Christian than Christian (TM)

    • Kenster999

      From Matthew:

      31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

      34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

      37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

      41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

      46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    • Phillip in L.A.

      More Christian than Christmas! © 2017. All Rights Reserved.

    • JCF

      …than Christianist.

  • JoeMyGod

    Occasionally a drunken tourist will stupidly accost the queens outside 801 and their very well practiced shade is so hilarious that sometimes people will hover nearby just HOPING that someone will start something. I’ve got to get that on video someday.

    • Christopher

      Hell yes you do!

      Why are we just learning about this?

      Those of us who don’t get to go out very often NEED to see professional shade throwing at it’s finest.

    • Duh-David

      Bless Jim. but my 801 memory will always be Margo-The Oldest Living Drag Queen in Captivity (Dog rest her soul) setting up a small table with a lighted mirror and her makeup on that corner and transforming from David to Margo, before her first show.

      And “shade?” Margo was the saltiest of the lot, with running commentary, in a voice like Harvey Fierstein, for every tourist stopping and staring at the wonder of a drag transformation. Legend had it, she had been at the Stonewall riots, but like everything in Key West, the truth outshone the legend.

  • Mark McGovern

    Awesome! Had a lot fun at that bar in days past.

  • Jeffg166

    They should start a gofundme site.

    • lymis

      If one happens, be sure to let us know.

  • Todd20036

    Meanwhile, gays are all going to hell because buttsex.

    I don’t know if we continue after we die, but unless God is as much a psychopath as the fucktards say he is, I’d say how you act towards the less fortunate is slightly more important than fucking a dozen men on a Saturday night,

  • Ragnar Lothbrok

    We really are the best people.

    • bambinoitaliano

      We are not wasting every moment of our time asking forgiveness or seeking approval from an imaginary fairy.

      • FAEN

        I’ve never understood that kind of mindset. If there is this omnipotent entity why would he/she have a problem with two consenting non related adults of the same sex loving each other? Makes no sense to me at all.

      • Bad Tom

        We prefer real fairies.

  • bambinoitaliano

    How dare those disgusting gays stole the Christians value! Satan! The next hurricane is going to get you! Repent your sin!

    • Jonathan Smith

      yeah. so, not happening.
      bring the hurricanes on

    • Snarkaholic

      Buy my slop buckets!

      • Bad Tom

        They cost more than buying actual food for a year!

  • JoeMyGod

    BTW – Key West’s leather bar, 1 Saloon, is part of 801 Bar. (The entrance is the little white building in the photo above.) There’s a shop on Duval that sells vintage replica signage from local bars and restaurants and I picked a 1 Saloon sign on my last visit.

  • Jonathan Smith
  • Rex

    Lots of fun memories at 801, including the professional shade-throwing Drag Queens. They are as entertaining on the streets as they are in the hot, crowded second floor. Thank you Jim Gilleran for caring about your community and looking out for everyone.

  • Hue-Man

    Expect Trump’s ICE goons to descend on the bar with “Ihre Papiere bitte.” In TrumpWorld, no good deed goes unpunished.

  • TuuxKabin

    OT: Sunday, September 15, 1963. Birmingham Sunday.

    • GayOldLady

      I remember it well

      • TuuxKabin

        Was my awakening, I was 17.

        • GayOldLady

          I tried to join a sit-in at a Nashville Lunch Counter in 1960. I was in HS at the time. I had a family member who was a Sgt on the Nashville PD who spotted me on the sidewalk, grabbed me, put me in the back of his patrol car and took me to where my grandfather worked in downtown Nashville. He told me it was because he was afraid I would get killed. The South was one shit storm after the other in those days and when people say they never remember the world being as screwed up as it is today, well there are many of us who do remember when it was screwed up even worse.

          • Gustav2

            Ken Burns was saying that today on Mourning Joe while promoting The Vietnam War doc on PBS and how all our politics are still stuck in the divide of 1968.

            There is a part of me that doesn’t want to watch and relive, but I will.

          • thatotherjean

            I lived through the Vietnam War once, and have no desire to go through those memories again.

          • David Walker

            I’m finally finding it easier, but for years…decades…I couldn’t cope with references to 1968. It was horrible.

          • thatotherjean

            The Vietnam War was bad enough–The Tet Offensive, the My Lai massacre–but 1968 was also the year of Martin Luther King jr’s assassination and the ensuing riots, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the police action at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and riots in Mexico City. And that’s just the highlights. 1968 was an unspeakable year.

          • thatotherjean

            Good for you for trying! That may have been one my sister participated in. Some jerk dumped ketchup on her head, along with various other things, and when our mother saw the photo (black-and-white in those days) in The Washington Post the next day, she nearly fainted, thinking it was blood dripping from her head. Mom was terrified she’d get killed, too. Fortunately, she survived that and many other Civil Rights protests, and still gets invited to speak at events for kids and college students, explaining who the protesters were, what they did, and why. Yes–people who think the world is screwed up today don’t remember the 1960’s, when it was worse.

          • GayOldLady

            I tried to sit-in on the first day of Nashville sit-ins. I think the sit-ins were in 3 stores on that first day. I tried to join the one at the Woolworth lunch counter. It was quite a scene, but I don’t remember anyone being hurt. I also don’t think the protesters were served. The argument by the merchants was the same argument they use for not serving LGBT, “it’s a matter of conscience”.

          • thatotherjean

            I don’t remember which day of the sit-ins this photo was taken, but the white girl with her hair in a bun is my sister:


            That took courage. I didn’t realize how much, then ( I was 12 at the time), but I do now.

          • GayOldLady

            That took great courage. Was she a college student in Nashville? I don’t think that photo is the Nashville Woolworth. I worked there during HS and that doesn’t look familiar. I think there were 2 other stores that had sit ins that day Kress and I don’t remember the other, could be from one of the other sit ins.

          • thatotherjean

            She had dropped out of Duke University to go participate in the Civil Rights movement. She hadn’t really wanted to go there to begin with, but my parents refused to pay her way through the college she chose first. She eventually put herself through Tougaloo College–a black school in Mississippi. She was one of the first white students in the school. I have to give her credit–she walked the walk, not just talked the talk.

          • GayOldLady

            She is a Shero!

          • TuuxKabin

            What a great word! Thank you. I’ve got a shero. I think you know who she is. One of quite a few.

          • GayOldLady

            You’re such a sweetie! xoxo

          • TuuxKabin

            “I know you are but what am I?”


          • TuuxKabin

            So much courage. Kudos to your sister and congratulations for having such a courageous sibling. “Teach Your Children Well,” comes to mind.

          • TuuxKabin

            Why does that not surprise me that you would have the fortitude to be there? It was a painful time, learning who of my school mates, in high school, in the SF Bay area were bigoted enough to mock the struggle going on with civil rights and it redefined who I hung out with.

            Sometimes it’s an ebb and flow of screwed upness. All of a sudden in just these last 9 months it’s the horror of all horrors.

          • GayOldLady

            Growing up in the South pretty much every adult white person and a lot of younger people were prejudice against blacks to some degree. I never went to school with a black person, even catholic schools weren’t integrated in the South, although I lived within a couple of blocks of a black neighborhood. Everything was segregated in those days, but what they couldn’t segregate were children at play and we played with our black neighborhood friends everyday. In those days we played outdoors and all over the neighborhood and in a nearby city park. In my Senior year the Catholic High school began to let Black catholic teens come into the dances on Saturday night at the HS gym. I was so excited because I had so many friends who were black, but going to segregated schools that were black only. On the very first night they came to the dance one of my guy friends asked me to dance. One of the priests chaperoning the dance called me over to him after we’d finished dancing and asked me “what are you thinking?” and I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what he was talking about. He said “you can’t dance with a “colored boy” it could cause trouble”. I said “yes Father” and I went back onto the dance floor and proceeded to ask the boy who had just asked me to dance to dance with me again. The priest came over to us and told us if we continued to interact we would be thrown out of the dance. We all left the dance together and none of us ever returned to those Saturday night dances. I caught a bit of flack from some of the folks I went to school with, but most didn’t say a word, possibly because they knew I simply didn’t care what they thought. Like you I learned some really great lessons during that time.

    • Phillip in L.A.

      Billie Holiday–“Strange Fruit” (1939) (L. Allen [A. Meeropol])

      “Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck/
      For the rain to gather/
      For the wind to suck/
      For the sun to rot/
      For the tree to drop/
      Here is a strange and bitter crop.”

      The Jewish poet and song-writer, Abel Meeropol, apparently adopted the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (which I never knew before today!)

  • FAEN

    Dear Joel ‘grifter’ Osteen

    THIS is how it’s done asshole! The next time you call us “not gods best” we should be able to kick your arrogant ass around Houston.

    • Beagle

      …and any other place you [Osteen, in case it isn’t clear] might be.

      • FAEN

        Damn skippy.

  • LeeCMH

    I bet the bar owner did not turn away straight people.

    • Bad Tom

      I bet he welcomed them as neighbors and friends.

  • Tawreos

    Are they taking donations so that others can help them help others?

  • Talisman

    So which part of the meal is laced with semen?


    • WNY

      the Starbucks Lattes

    • edrex

      the amuse bouche.

  • DaddyRay

    I Love My People

    • Gigi

      What’s not to like, we’re amazing! 🌈🌟🌈🌟

      • FAEN

        Not all of us but most of us.

        • Harley

          Yea. Haven’t heard anything from the log cabin crew.

          • FAEN

            Not enough time to comment what with all that boot licking and begging for acceptance.

  • greenmanTN

    Hey religious right, isn’t there something in the Bible about “By their deeds you shall know them”? You’re pointing fingers based on bullshit and this guy is feeding hundreds.

    That kinda says it all, doesn’t it.

    • Gigi

      Did you hear about Joel Osteen opening up his $10.5 million house to hurricane survivors? No, me neither.

  • Gigi


  • Jonathan Smith

    of course they fed people.
    the hurricane was ALL THEIR FAULT!!!!

    • edrex

      ha. it was the least we could do after all that sodomy.

  • M Jackson

    But there are plenty of evangelical christian groups on the island offering relief too, right? We keep hearing about how they really have their fingers on the pulse of this whole hurricane business.

  • HandyAndy

    OT but related Keys hurricane news, the NOAA did several fly-overs of the islands that got hit with the eye of the storm. They took pictures and then overlaid them on a map so that we could zoom in and see our houses from above. My house is still standing (pictured), and looks like it just lost some shingles and all of my backyard coconut palms. Somebody’s boat is up on my seawall, though.

    The NOAA map is here:

    • whollyfool

      Good to hear!

    • HandyAndy

      It’s hard to picture from an aerial shot, but the driveway slopes up a few feet from the road, and then the ground level from the road slopes down a few feet to the seawall on the canal. Storm surge in my neighborhood was supposed to be 3-4 feet, which would have been high enough to flood the backyard and deposit a loose boat, but not high enough to reach the inside of the house.

      • yes b’y

        great news

      • djcoastermark

        A picture’s worth a 1000 words. Looks like the picture tells a good story for you.

    • The_Wretched

      I glad that it’s still there. I hope the clean up part is minimal.

  • Gerry Fisher

    This warms my heart.

  • Dave B

    after-all it’s the least he could do, right? considering the teh gayz caused the hurricane in the first place.

    • Natty Enquirer

      He’s doing far more good than any scamming preacher would.

      • Bad Tom

        Directly, actively, for the people in need.
        Jesus Christ (should He actually exist) would approve.

  • Ninja0980

    More then most Christians would do.

  • The_Wretched

    Goes to show we don’t need the Joel Olsten’s nor churches to have civic engagement and helping.

    • Bad Tom

      The Joels of the world are active impediments.

  • Rex

    One of my favorite memories of Key West is Camille’s restaurant. It was located on Duval Street, next to a gay bar. Since the restaurant at that location was so small, you could leave your name, go to the bar and have a drink and the owner would come and get you when your table was ready. Then they moved off Duval to a larger location. My friends and I went to dinner at the new location, we had not been to Key West in over a year, yet the owner remembered all of our names. I was amazed. Just a sample of how the Key West merchants go out of their way to be gracious and are very welcoming to the gay community.

  • JWC

    Applaud Applaud ggood for this man How many churchs have stepped up to the plate and done similar

  • Phillip in L.A.

    Good for you, Mr Gilleran! Also, thank you for 801 Bar, and for giving back to your community.

    I met a really nice guy at 801 Bar many years ago who invited me back to his place; I told him I wanted to, but I was really hungry (this was about 2:30 am, and I had had no dinner, yet). He said, “Come on,” and fed me home-cooked catfish with greens and red beans (and I can remember exactly how it all tasted, because they were the best catfish and greens I’ve ever had.) Then we fucked until dawn in his single bed, and fell asleep all wrapped together.

  • JCF
  • Readen Reply

    and the nice bartenders on Duval!
    Was just there last month!