A management rift at Fubar has reached the point where the police showed up tonight to deal with a dispute over one of the partners comping drinks. The incident extends to a bigger dispute late last week between original partners Chad Lager and Kevin Zhang — some say Lager was kicked out, Zhang says he quit. In either case, the situation is a mess, and a sad one given this place ranks among the city’s success stories of the past three years.
I have been to Fubar a half-dozen times in the past week, have heard both sides, and hoped they would work it out, even last night when Lager showed up for work and, despite the somewhat ominous presence of several security guards with his partners, left without incident. After all, the reason Zhang and Lager got together in the first place was because each provided something the other didn’t — Zhang brought financing and an ability to deal with property management while Lager oversaw design of everything from bar to menu, sourcing staff and alcohol, and daily management.
They survived some early struggles, when times were lean and a third partner, Ashley Howlett, came in with the financial support to put them — far — over the top. Fubar is now an established part of the city’s drinking scene.
Things don’t look good at the moment but here is hoping the sides can come to an agreement with which everyone is happy. If I ranked the Beijing bars that have meant the most to me, Fubar would be in the top ten, and it is among those places I have been able to document going from rubble to success. On that note, here are some photos of Lager and Zhang from happier times. May they return.