Yours truly got a shout in a China Daily article, “The bursting bar bubble” (January 6, 2007), though it might best be described as a single dorky quote: “Unfortunately, this is not an easy market to serve, if only for the simple reason that Beijing is not Shanghai.” I didn’t mean that literally.
Obviously, Beijing and Shanghai are separate cities: the former has a wealth of historical landmarks, including the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, while the latter is a modern-day metropolis, with that tall Pudong skyscraper with the round blob on top as well as international restaurants such as, uh, Hooters.
I meant that success in Shanghai’s bar and restaurant scene doesn’t guarantee success in Beijing’s, and that investors expanding into the latter from the former forget the differences between these two cities at their own peril. It’s not exactly the most earth-shattering observation, but still relevant given the kind of establishments popping up in the north.
Luckily, few readers will remember my words since Sequoia owner Frank Siegel was quoted in the same article as saying, “there’s a lot of churning,” which raises (at least for me) images of a middle-aged Pittsburg man making butter.
Anyway, the article’s other point was that bars generally don’t last long as going concerns, something the recent demise of Icehouse makes all too plain and that isn’t really news. Some points from the article:
- 278 bars have registered with the Beijing Administration of Industry and Commerce (there are plenty of illegal ones out there).
- Still going strong after five years in the Haidian District is the Magic Rock bar (never heard of it).
- And in 2001, the first edition of that’s Beijing listed 200 bars (actually, it was 100) and only 11 are still operating. Can anyone name these?