Tomorrow it'll officially be one week since Patpong Road, a 50 Eggs concept influenced by Thailand's Red Light District, opened up above Khong River House. We spoke to owner John Kunkel about the first weekend at his very first bar, the best parts, the worst parts and the future. Here's what he had to say:
PatPong is your first bar. How'd it come to be?
Yes, it is my first bar as an owner. But I have worked and run bars for others throughout my career, so it was not an unknown for me, but was an exciting first for my company and team and will not be the last for 50 Eggs.
I spend my late teens early twenties living in South East Asia training in martial arts, working in a bars and teaching English to support myself, like so many other travelers. I first visited Patpong Road when I was almost 19 - it's a open air market in Bangkok, but is known more for being a red light district where anything goes. For those that have not been there, I can just tell you, it is complete cultural and visual overload. When I was going through the creative process for Khong River House, Patpong became the fun alter ego of Khong and I thought was a natural use of the former Buck 15 space. As always, everyone on the 50 Eggs team added to the idea from food, drink, design and details - I am really happy with the way it turned out.
Overall, how was the first weekend there?
Its been amazing! I honestly thought it was going to be more of a slow build, but it was packed to the point we could not let anyone else in both nights.
What's the feedback so far?
Everyone loved it. Buck 15 was a cool place in its heyday and everyone coming in has a lot of nostalgia for the space - think they are excited to see we are doing something cool and creating a locals driven place again.
What was the best part about the opening?
Openings are always exciting and nerve-racking for me, but seeing everyone respond so positively to something I had created in my head is a great feeling, and a relief.
And the worst?
Honestly, I always see myself as the underdog, so I treat every new opening like it is a make it or break it for me - so, my attention to detail is kind of an understatement, and I am quite sure I drive everyone crazy, but luckily I have a great team that's used to it.
What was the biggest surprise?
How fast the word spread! Everyone is really excited to have something like Patpong right off Lincoln Road away from the Ocean Drive crowds and crazies.
There's buzz about the bagged cocktails. Can you tell me more about them?
This was something I wanted to do at Khong, but ultimately it was not the right venue. All over Thai street markets you see people drinking juices, sodas, etc.. out of a plastic bags with a straw in it, it is the craziest thing and I knew we had to do a cocktail inspired by it. I really was not sure how it would go over, so I am glad everyone got as much of a kick out of it as we did!
Anything in store for the future?
Lots! We will be expanding the concepts we have and bringing new ones to the market and that's just this year.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself advice for the opening, what would it be? Relax and Enjoy. I have a great team that executed flawlessly. I should have just gotten drunk.
· All Coverage of PatPong Road [ ~EMIA~ ]
· All Coverage of John Kunkel [ ~EMIA~ ]
[Photo Courtesy of Cortney Cates]