On a lighter note

A letter in the South China Morning Post asks why the paper’s business columnist Howard SCMP-7-11Winn is so against 7-Eleven selling beer in Lan Kwai Fong. The convenience store undercuts the district’s bars, which, the writer points out, is surely good for the consumer. He adds that the issue of under-age drinking is irrelevant as, to the extent it happens, all or many outlets are guilty. Quite.

If bar owners are hurting because of cheaper competition, they should cut their own prices. If they can’t because the rents are so high, they should sort it out with their landlord: get a cut in rent – or close, or relocate. To demand a reduction in competition to keep beer prices high is, ultimately, to support high rents, which benefit only the landlord. Who in many cases in LKF is, of course, Allan Zeman. Maybe the SCMP will next call for free buses to ferry Mainland visitors down to D’Aguilar Street.

There was a time when the LKF area had independent owner-operated watering holes with distinctive character and atmosphere, and things like beat-up wooden furniture (Caroline’s, Yelt’s Inn, Hardy’s, et al, yes – dewy-eyed with nostalgia). Virtually all have given way to pretentious and pricy ‘wine-bars’, ‘tapas lounges’ and the inevitable sports-theme places with brushed steel and neon, run by chains headed up by accountants. It has now got to the stage where 7-Eleven is the place with the authentic local ambience, where you can relax, and the staff know your name. It’s the tacky bars that should close.

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29 Responses to On a lighter note

  1. PHT says:

    Joe Blow – You have often called for a boycott of LKF. Instead, how about a mass occupation of LKF with beer from any remaining street vendors, 7-11 or Circle K? I remember about 10 years ago one of the newspaper vendors there had a cooler of cold beer for sale, but once the bars found out that he was forced to stop the practice.

  2. Drunk While Sober says:

    Spot on.

    Nice overhaul on the page too.

  3. gumshoe says:

    The last “night out” in LKF for me and the fellas (years ago) was standing outside 7-11 and watching people walk by and chatting. Way more fun than screaming over music and paying for overpriced drinks before being shoo-ed out just after the last sip is taken.

  4. Mark says:

    When we arrived in HK at the end of last century LKF was still good fun, up to a point. We used to go to Club 64, Hardy’s and a little bar at the top end of LKF the name of which I can’t recall, which used to have a live band most nights. And there were other bars that offered something different too. Now they’ve all gone, replaced by mirrors and bling, and we don’t go there any more!

  5. Cassowary says:

    Well gods forbid people actually have to ride the MTR and go to (horror of horrors) Kowloon to get a beer or eight. Funny how the people lamenting the dearth of authentic local character in LKF would never deign to walk into the sort of establishment that serves Jack and tea with a side of dice games.

  6. Flip-Flopper says:

    I wonder if Winn has an undeclared interest in LKF. On other issues, like tycoon parking, the incinerator and the proposed hotel on the Peak, he writes eminently sensibly. But here he’s just lost the plot entirely.

  7. Headache says:

    MTR bylaw 28F says you can’t ride if pissed. Most island-dwellers will have one or two unpretentious neighbourhood bars/pubs within stumbling distance. LKF and Lockhart are so FOB. Viva small enterprise and death to Lord Semen.

  8. Grande Poobah says:

    @Mark

    I think the little bar you’re talking about might be Le Jardin, which astonishingly is still going. I can only imagine that the building has been slated for redevelopment and so the landlord can’t be bothered upping the rent, because otherwise there’s no way they could stay alive given (relatively) how little they charge for their booze.

  9. Nic says:

    Good luck getting into the 711 as its a defacto club for students from various private schools. LKF had become an abomination, mainland tourists gawking, Mainland oriented shops and crappy bars . Give me my oasis in TST any time.

  10. Chinese Netizen says:

    Nowadays the best places to go get some great craft beers in nice venues that are independently owned and operated (should you be willing to part with the silly prices per glass) are in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou!
    Like any place that gets “discovered” by the mainland traveling hordes in HK, expect demise.
    Also, RIP “West Street” of Yangshuo pre 2005 before being discovered by the HK Canto hordes along with domestic hordes.

  11. PHT says:

    Headache – Guess this is why none of the stores in the stations sell beer. You can buy all sorts of food and drink, but no beer in MTR stations. This has always annoyed me! How can HK be a world class city when policies like this exist?

  12. Headache says:

    Most of Le Jardin is podium which saves rent and they’re bending the licensing rules to save further which is why you need to get a membership card to drink there.

  13. Stephen says:

    A ‘Battle Royale’ ultimately between Jardine Matheson and Allen Semen. Both unlovable but at least the ‘1000 assholes’ of the former are largely invisible these days while that prized cock Semen always seems to popping up, whether its snuggling up to Vagina Ip or telling us why democracy is bad for us.

    If we do a quick back of fag packet calculation – Large can of Carlsberg in 7-11 HKD15. Let’s times 3 for a glass, staff, chair and roof and can we get a Carlsberg in a “bar” for HKD45 in LKF ? No. Why ? Semen’s rents which have driven away all the best pubs in the street.

  14. Mark says:

    @Grande Poobah

    No I didn’t mean Le Jardin – we used to go there too sometimes (interesting it still lives on though). This bar was on the left side of LKF (not D’Aguilar St) as you go up the hill. The band used to play almost in the doorway – you had to squeeze past to get in. Tiny place but good fun. Closed yonks ago, probably around SARS time, but due to rack-renting, not the bug. RIP.

  15. Scotty Dotty says:

    For a moment I thought Hemlock was about to celebrate Miller Lite.

    Phew.

    More strength to the 7/11 side! That Semen is a real cock.

  16. Bystander says:

    About Ian Brownlee’s ‘Insight’ in SCMP, Feb 4, 2015

    Barmy old Brownlee,
    There is no mention of the incomprehensible subsidised Hong Kong public housing and the cheating that may go on, eg ‘Long Hair’ on a Legco salary in subsidised housing ?
    Similarly no mention of the private rental market. Some countries pride themselves on housing their citizens in an affordable way. Eg, I heard that it was an election plank in France to do so at one time (don’t know about the banlieus though), an accountable government supposedly. Here in Hong Kong we have doubtful loot coming south to invest in property among other things, and NO residential rent control, thanks to Mr Bowtie, whom Brownlee alludes to. The same Bowtie who dried up the land bank, in keeping with his tycoon chums’ wishes. (Let’s hope our foot dragging overpaid government employees dust off the ICAC file and give him his due, toute suite.)
    Can anyone explain how a mechanism whereby someone’s desperation for a place (and/or employer package) leads him to pay more for rent than the previous rent, is a fair mechanism for affordable housing ? This increase gets quoted by other landlords and is used to determine future rents, limited more or less only by the imagination of the landlord. Quel system !
    In the old days, outworn British civil servants got a paid trip home on an ocean liner. I would be prepared to chip in for Mr Brownlee.

  17. Bystander says:

    Maybe the SCMP will next call for free buses to ferry Mainland visitors down to D’Aguilar Street.
    Not so farfetched. The Tuen Mun malls were giving mainlanders a free ride on City’s B3X from Shenzhen Bay, according to the SCMP last week.

  18. Ping Che says:

    @Mark: F-Stop? Liked the place………….

  19. LKF Nogo says:

    @Flip-Flopper

    Howard Winn lost all credibility with me last year when he accepted a $5,000 meal at Kyoto and then gave over the whole of his column to giving them free advertising.

    In their pocket? Nah, of course not.

  20. Pubber says:

    Hardy’s and Yelts Inn. RIP.

    Real pubs run by real people.

    Sorely missed. I can’t remember the last time I had a night our in LKF was so many years ago.

  21. Cassowary says:

    Don’t be so smug about supporting 7-11, it’s owned by Dairy Farm, a.k.a. Jardine Matheson, a.k.a. The House of a Thousand Arseholes. You’re stiffing one boot-licking wannabe oligopolist to pay another family of actual oligopolists.

  22. inspired says:

    @ Cassowary just the thought of all that whiskey and tea let alone singing karaoke, heaven forbid…

  23. Joe Blow says:

    @PHT – I am all for it. LKF (frankly speaking, I never liked the place, not even 20 years ago) now belongs to locusts, street whores and gwai jais. The last time I was there, exactly one year ago, I was in a hurry to provide a drinking place for out-of-towners. We ended up in Hong Kong Brew House, which was once at the top of D’Aguilar. It seems like it was under new management: the service was crap, the local beer my friends drank was crap (they referred to it as ‘water beer’) and my beer, a pint of Leffe from Belgium (yum) cost me $100-. The first and last time in my life I paid $100- for a beer.

    Semen will celebrate his new erection soon: dining-by-numbers. Every floor has a ‘authentic’, ‘exclusive’, ‘VIP’, ‘cutting edge’ blah-blah resto with a different ‘concept’. Let’s celebrate by never going there: there are enough places elsewhere to eat and drink.

    To give the movement some traction a don’t-go-to-the-shitplace Twitter account will be launched around Chinese New Year.

  24. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ Cassowary

    Jardines v Semen – obviously it’s the Scots to support!

    Semen is an utter little shit, let’s be clear, and having dealt with him personally on three different projects I say this with feeling. He’s just a trumped up barrow boy from Canada who will say and do anything to ingratiate himself with anyone provided self interest prevails. It was an UTTER fluke of history that he ended up owning LKF, simply because he couldn’t ingratiate himself with the British establishment then the power brokers in Hong Kong. The fewer Semens there are in life the better society will be.

  25. Cassowary says:

    Brownlee’s column came out of an RTHK Backchat episode he was on a couple of weeks ago. Here he was arguing with the host (who was either a moron or playing one) about why we shouldn’t pave over the country parks for housing. There, he was arguing that the inadequately housed could be accommodated simply by increasing the density of the planned new towns and using some brownfield sites. There is no need to develop the country parks. There, he sounded much more reasonable. Unfortunately, stripped of that context, this article comes across a lot like “let them eat cake”.

  26. Cassowary says:

    Nah, I’m not supporting oligopolists even if they’re Scottish. Zeman’s asshattishness doesn’t figure into my criteria. He just isn’t big enough to be able to rip off every man, woman and child in Hong Kong on a daily basis. Jardine’s is. It’s no skin off my nose if tourists and yuppies choose to waste their money in his establishments. There’s also the possibility that if he hadn’t bought out LKF and most of Soho, the whole area would have been razed by the URA and turned into shopping malls flogging more handbags and gold.

  27. Eesial says:

    Congratulations on getting this blog recognised by our hallowed “mainstream” press, the SCMP, and Mr. Howard Winn.

    I do feel that Mr. Winn is being a little economical with the truth when he writes, “Rest assured we have no investment in bars and have received no hospitality, directly or indirectly from any Lan Kwai Fong bar owners.”

    Last year he accepted a meal up to the value of a mind blowing $5,000 from Thirty Eight and then wrote a glowing review of said resteraunt, failing to mention that it was complimentary.

    Review here:

    http://www.scmp.com/business/article/1519180/hong-kongs-most-unusual-restaurant

  28. Mark says:

    @ Ping Che

    Yes that was it, F-Stop. Ah the good old days …

  29. Bystander says:

    Zeman. Could never understand how anyone could take up PRC citizenship and abandon their birth nationality, except for very craven reasons. Amazingly in your face !

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