Bar tales….

Another month passes…..    What’s been happening?   Relaxing in HH, a couple of nights in Bangkok before heading to the UK. More on that later.

I’ve been binging on YouTube programs recently.  Gordon Ramsay & the Hotel Inspector.  If you’ve never seen these – basically the experts visit a failing restaurant or hotel and points out where they’re going wrong and devises a plan to get them back on track.   I like watching the owners think they know it all – and argue with the experts. Brilliant.    I have a great respect for the Experts.  They are experts for a reason.  They’ve been there, done it and have been very successful.   You should listen to them, they know what they’re talking about.

Personally,  I think of myself as a bit of an expert in my field.  This was reinforced recently when my old Boss phoned me up and asked if I’d be interested in returning to my old Position which I quit 7 years ago.   The person they brought in when I had left was not so much of an ‘expert’.  So much so that not only did he make a pigs ear of the job, the pressure got to him and he had a breakdown.   It’s not easy being an expert.

As flattering as it was – I don’t want to go back.  The best way to turn them down without actually telling them to poke it – was to price myself out of the job, so I gave them a figure which would be needed to get me interested.  Problem is, this didn’t put them off.  Oops.

I’ve now got to make a decision.   I love my job.  Where I am, I am an expert.   If I were to go back (lower position) just for a pay-check… well,  I am not sure that’s a good move.   I shall need to think a little more..

One thing I don’t claim to be an expert in – is the bar business.  I never treated it like a business, as I never needed to make money from it.  Yes, I didn’t want to lose money, but it was more a hobby than a job.  In fact, it was never a job for me.   Some people have mad ideas that I/we lost a load of money, which just isn’t true.  In fact, the rent on that 5 story building was something like 40k per month for the 1st 3 years.  After 3 years, it went to 50k.    My house in HH cost 45k per month – and I am not selling booze.   So no, the old Mango didn’t really have to do much business to survive.

So no, I am not an expert in the bar business.. but having been involved in the bar business for 10 years… I am sure I have a better understanding than a punter.

To this day, I still get asked many questions about my days in the bar business.  One question I have been asked more than once is ‘if you had your time over again, would you buy a bar’?

Good one.  I think I would, but I think I’d have to do things a little different.

I have always maintained, and still do, that for me, the bar was for my entertainment.  As long as I didn’t lose money, then I was happy.  If I made a few bucks along the way, then it was a bonus.  More often than not,  we ‘gave back’ to many of the customers when the bar was doing well.    I could never count the amount of drinks that were given away.  The amount of free food that was offered.  The number of pints of beer which were sold for 20bht?  It was a lot.

At the time, it was just some fun.  I got to meet many great people – some of which I am still in contact with today.  I met many, many liars, bull-shitters and chancers too.  Way too many.

One of the problems of a bar – is that you get to experience people when they are drunk and their guard is down.

After a recent chat with long term Blog reader Danny,  it got me thinking back to some of the people from yester-year.

Balloon Chasers – we all know these.  The Mango had it’s fair share.   I remember sitting with DavetheRave – watching some guy shovel food down is throat.. then go back for more… and more…  He had 2 pints which cost him a total of 40bht.

There were many people like this.  Total scumbag peasants. 

Leaches – It was not uncommon of me to buy a bunch of drinks for people in the bar.    I have been on the receiving end many times.  But there was this one fellow – who only drank soda.  Except when a bell was rung or it was me buying a drink.  Then his tastes changed to premium beverage.  Every time.  To the point where all the staff knew what was coming.   Thing is, it’s not like this guy didn’t have any money.  – he was just a tight leach of a bastard.

Happy-Hour seekers.   All bars have Happy-Hours and the Mango was no different.    I remember one afternoon, I am sitting at the bar watching whatever was on the TV…   a customer opposite on his laptop asked why the Water was not reduced during Happy Hour?    I took exception to this.   Just because I was not paying attention to him,  I was well aware how long he had been there, how much he had spent, and what he spent the last time he was there…    he was not exactly a valued customer.

So when he said that our Water was 300% of what it costs in 7/11 – I had no choice other than to remind him that he was sitting in an air conditioned bar, with lights on,  watching TV,  his laptop plugged into my power, using my WiFi,  using the toilets, water, soap, bog roll.   Sitting on a stool that I paid for.  Drinking from a class that needs to be cleaned.  Not to mention the ice which is topped up by the person being paid to serve him.

He was getting a lot for his 40bht bottle of water.  But the ignorant twat that he was – just saw that it was more expensive than 7/11.

I’ve no time for these assholes.

The music experts...  Getting music right is not easy. You don’t like what I like.  I don’t like what most people like.  I personally would rather listen to cats shouting than Ed Sheeran.  But everyone is different.     So I again took exception to one guy who always complained about the music.  I handed him a pen and pad and asked him what he likes to listen to.  He replied that it wasn’t his job?!   Erm… I was merely trying to get his tastes so that I could source the music for him.   The bars are different now – they all have YouTube ready for the customers to choose their own, but back then,  it was down to me to find the music and create a playlist.  And this asshole complained rather than help me provide him what he wanted. 

The same guy complained that one of the music speakers was mounted too close to where his regular was. – which was disturbing for him.  So, I had the speaker moved.   What I didn’t expect was the dick to then decide he no longer liked his seat and moved near to the speaker.  Seriously, I kid you not.     In the end I lost my rag with him. I told him to get the fuck out and not come back. 

Bullshitters….   One group of guys wanted to rent the upstairs for some Rave/house music function.   He told me how he was an event’s organizer and could make us all millionaires.   He went on to tell me how he was a director of some Thai bank – and was only teaching English to Thai’s for fun.    Seriously?

Another guy was telling me how he was trying to get a visa for his gf to visit the UK.   He spent a lot of time telling me about how he was the owner of some massive construction company who builds shopping malls all over the world and is a gazillionaire.. blah blah..   After a skinful, he paid his bill and went next door to the cheap and nasty hotel where he was staying.  Sorry, but gazillionaires don’t usually stay in low-budget accommodation.  Dick

Thieves – the amount of cutlery, bottles, condiments, cd’s and various other items we went through was amazing.  I was always told you need to factor in 20% for thefts.  No.  That is unacceptable.  I even had my sweaters go missing.

The Staff?   Shit,  I have lost count of the staff we went through.  There are maybe 3 or 4 that I liked and could (probably) trust.  They were all thieving little shites.  The ones I trusted – I am still in contact with today.  The rest, I’d not trust as far as I could throw them.

I had one of the cooks come to my apartment one day – crying that he wasn’t receiving his share of the Tips and needed money for his new kid.   I felt sorry for him – and chucked him some money and told him I’d look at the way the tips were distributed.  The very next day I had a friend look over the books and found this Cook was submitting food receipts in his own hand-writing.  So there I was, giving him handouts whilst he is claiming money for ingredients/food that didn’t exist!  He was hoofed out straight away and told never to show is face again.       He later applied for a job with my other partner Kwan – who took great pleasure in telling him where to go.

All in all, is it worth it?  Well, the biggest upside to owning a bar is that you get to walk through a door marked Private.   You get to entertain when the bar is closed.   The private parties we had upstairs were awesome.  I’ve actually forgotten many of them.

I did meet a bunch of people who I am still in contact with – and have a lot of time/respect for them. The handful of these genuine people make up for the many, many tossers that I had came across.

So would I do it all again?  I think I would, but I’d probably not be so nice and polite a second time round.  I’d ‘cheap-shame’ people.  I’d ban the balloon-chasers and stop all happy-hours.  I’d play my own music and employ robots.

Hmm.. maybe I’ll pass then.

5 thoughts on “Bar tales….”

  1. Graham. Great post. Interesting take on the shit that farang bar owners have to put up with in LOS. Should be required reading for any newbie thinking of “living the dream” and going down that route. You certainly encountered more than your fair share of the dregs of western society. The idiot complaining about the price of bottled water took the biscuit. The temptation to wrap a barstool around his head must have been a strong one!

    1. Cheers matey. I have sooo many stories from my bar days. One day I’ll get round to writing them all down.

      One thing that always made me chuckle – is that I got to know quite a few bar owners. Most bar owners are helpful to each other (except those in direct competition) – and we’d share many stories. On many occasions bar owners would speak of a certain blogger who thought he knew all there is to know of the industry and would write about it each week. They really didn’t like this guy, but would feed him fake news or use him to publish info they wanted ‘leaking’.

      I know the blogger personally, and always got on with him and had time for him. But when I read his columns and he talks about his close relationship with all the bar owners, I am reminded how all these bar owners thought he was a bit of a nob who thought he knew their industry. The reality is – you only really know it – when you’re in it or have been in it.

      Kind of like these drug counselors. Unless you’re an ex-junkie – do you really have the knowledge to preach to others?

      1. I think I can guess the name of the Bangkok based blogger you are referring to Graham. Anyway have a Happy Xmas mate!

  2. Bar business is not for the thin skinned or easily offended. Was your bar in Hua Hin?

    1. Hi Bill. My bars were in Bangkok. Silom and Soi 4. Good fun. I had thought about a bar in HH – but it would have purely been a ‘hobby-bar’. Good job that I didn’t bother as it would have been dead in the water now – like most bars in Hua Hin / Thailand

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