The Rickshaw closes: And the reality TV show continues…

Sorry Rickshaw will shut the doors today at 5:00 pm.
We will gladly continue giving service in the Saddle Cantina and Side Saddle…

- Sign on The Rickshaw today

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It looks like The Rickshaw might have deep-fried its last wing and mixed its last Margarita, at least in the present spot, given a sign posted there today and comments by management the lease will not be renewed. The end comes suddenly, with no farewell party, so perhaps there is a chance things might as quickly turn around. Then again, the farewell party for the forerunner of this bar, The Saddle, did not turn out to be a pleasant affair. Management has cited the possibility of opening The Rickshaw elsewhere — the lower level of The Saddle Cantina seems like a good fit. Again, this is rather sudden — let’s see what happens.

The Rickshaw opened just under three years ago and quickly drew a strong following due to its 24-hour service, tasty wings and Tex-Mex fare, focus on televised sports, loyal following from previous spots The Saddle and Cox, and side patio that featured beer pong and general rabble-rousing. It drew a diverse clientele, from sports fans to people migrating along the Sanlitun bar route to people in the food and beverage sector – I remember many a Sunday when half the tables were full of people who work at bars, restaurants, wine companies, and hotels, and enjoyed the earthy atmosphere. The past two years have been rougher, given growing competition in the area, forced closure of the patio, and constant staff changes.

In its early days, The Rickshaw also featured three of the city’s more interesting bar charactersKris Ryan, Luga, and Chad Lager. Their divergent personalities and background made me suggest the place would be great for a reality TV show.

Since those days, there have been some hard feelings among the three as each went his own way. Ryan and his partners opened The Saddle Cantina, The Side Saddle, and a cafe in the Volkswagen building; Luga wiggled the original Saddle away and called it Luga’s, opened Luga’s Villa, Pho Pho, and Baan Thai (these latter two venues will swap spaces as of tomorrow) and a Mexican restaurant that failed, and is set to open another spot in the Luga’s Villa building; and Lager went on to first work at Tun and now Fubar. This trio has had a good deal of influence over the Sanlitun bar scene during the past three years.

As for what will happen to The Rickshaw space, which in a previous life was home to Midnight Bar, the first spot run by George Zhou and Echo Sun of Q Bar fame, well, maybe the reality show has a few episodes left in it…

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See also:

Hard to believe this was less than three years ago...

Sips and bites: Budapest, Nasca Cafe, Block 8, Steaks & Eggs, Pink Loft

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Passing along a quick note from 8 Songs that trouble seems to be, um, brewing at Nasca Cafe in Central Park between some of the stakeholders. He adds that the signboard that said “Nasca Cafe” is now missing the first word. I enjoyed my only visit there, including a talk with the Kiwi manager, so let’s hope a fair solution arises.

I also noted the darkened windows at Hungarian restaurant Budapest–formerly Norwegian restaurant 66 North–and it looks like the goulash is gone. Andy S at Mobile Native notes that the Budapest Web site states rather revealingly, “We are working on that the restaurant would run under Hungarian management again.” He also adds that the “for rent” signs are already up at the Pili Pili, which only recently reopened there in Lido.

A visit to Block 8 last weekend found a guard blocking the elevator and directing patrons to a side entrance. He said only Haiku remains open among the venues that included Ruby Khi and Med. The comedy events organized by Chopschticks have been moved from Block 8 to the Hard Rock Cafe.

Last but not least, for those who wondered if Steaks and Eggs had gone to the great griddle in the sky, Doctor O and BeijingDaze inform that the place is simply under (long overdue) renovations. Meanwhile, the Pink Loft, which moved into the old Browns / Revelations space less than a year ago is currently closed though a source there says it will reopen after the Spring Festival.

Darn good dinner: Mosto raises RMB35,575 for Haiti relief

Kudos to Mosto for raising RMB35,575 on Wednesday night by holding a charity dinner for Haiti. The money will reach Haiti via UNICEF. I liked this event because:

  1. Every RMB from the night went to charity, which meant both Mosto and the five companies that gave wine — The Wine Republic, Torres, East Meets West, Summergate, and ASC — also acted as donors. On top of this, Mosto is a popular restaurant, so it gave up some of its regular traffic to hold this dinner.
  2. The money went to UNICEF. This is a well-known organization for which I have done volunteer work, so I felt comfortable with it as a choice, which is not to say other groups are not worthy. A common question about charity events, and one I received numerous times this week, is:  “How do I know my money actually gets to the people in need?” I feel confident in this case, especially since Mosto informed me that they would be willing to scan the receipt from UNICEF when the donation is processed.
  3. The food was excellent. I have been satisfied with my previous meals at Mosto, but this is the first time I have done five courses here and it turned out to be among the best meals I have had in the past 12 months. From the shrimp Napoleon with avocado tartar (I would have been happy to have this five times) to the red wine risotto with its tangy parmesan edge to the tenderloin cooked perfectly to my liking t0–on the intriguing side–the Sichuan peppercorn ice cream paired with chocolate souffle, it was all tasty. On top of this, we had six different wines, including a couple of less common ones in Beijing — a Gruner Veltliner and a Nero d’Avola — and the pours were generous.

I attended the dinner with six acquaintances and I can safely say we all had our fill and, at least my case, a bit more. Once again, an excellent meal and an excellent initiative, so big props to Alex, Daniel, Eva, and the team at Mosto.

Love near an escalator: Big-boned Beijing babe

So much for the petite Chinese woman. This monstrous madam oversees customers shopping in the Yintai Center. According to an English translation on a nearby plaque, her name is Lili, she is from the future, and, “Maybe she is predicting the end of humanity.” So, hurry and get that LVMH bag!

And I know this has nothing to do with Beijing nightlife, though Lili would be the ultimate door person if a spot called “Lady Bar” ever opened.

Brain drain: Austcham to hold charity quiz with ~200 people

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About 200 people are signed up for this Saturday night’s “brain drain” quiz at The Hilton, says Susan Clear of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the event. The entry fee is RMB365, includes a three-course meal and free-flow wine and beer, and will see all proceeds go to Yearn to Learn, “a newly established charity with a vision of developing fully functional classrooms and therapeutical facilities for children within orphanages.” In other words, the money will go to help orphans.

“The quiz masters are not Australian, there is not a strong Australian element to the questions,” says Clear, meaning the contest is open to anyone. For more info, or to register, see the poster above or this link.