While in Arizona, he held drag brunches at two of his restaurants – both his blues restaurant and 50s-style diner. Since moving to Petersburg almost two years ago, he’s been experimenting with ideas to put his restaurant Wabi-Sabi on the map.
In January, Wabi-Sabi hosted its first drag brunch and sold out two shows.
During the monthly event, the sushi and tapas restaurant serves normal menu items in addition to traditional brunch fare.
Payne plans to fill a niche in his part of town while bridging the gap for Petersburg.
While being a gay-owned establishment, he hosts a diverse crowd of straight, gay, young, and old. The entertainment at Wabi-Sabi reflects that diversity.
“The first time I do new things, I think of our regulars,“ he said. “Who I am is who I want my crowd to be,” Payne says. “We do jazz and soul one night, then classic rock. We have live music four nights of the week.
Payne said he made his way to Old Towne Petersburg after driving through looking for a house with his partner. After walking around, they fell in love with the area. Since moving to Petersburg, he’s been dedicated to building the community.
“People from here don’t believe it’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s happening at Wabi-Sabi.”
Wabi-Sabi’s next brunch is on Sunday, May 16 with two seatings – 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For reservations, call 804.862.1365. Wabi Sabi is located at 29 Bollingbrook St., Old Towne Petersburg, VA 23803.