Recession means opportunities

Straits Times

Bar owner Jimmy Wong believes not every nightspot will do badly in a weak economy. And he is putting his money where his mouth is.

The 33-year-old is investing nearly $1 million to open Le View, a sprawling 1,858 sq m Balinese-styled bistro in the former Trinity Church at Mount Sophia.

To open next month, the bistro will feature an alfresco bar area that plays bossa nova music and an indoor bar with a live three-piece acoustic band.

Mr Wong, who also runs Rav disco in Circular Road, is unfazed by talk of recession, especially when his first venture in 2002 – Illusion Bar in Mohamed Sultan Road – closed after just a year because of the Sars epidemic. Then only 27 years old, he lost over $250,000, he recalls.

‘I am more financially prepared now than I was when I opened Illusion Bar,’ he tells LifeStyle. ‘A recession does not mean everything has to come to a halt. People will continue to drink and there will be bars that will do well.’

He declined to reveal Le View’s monthly rental and would only say that ‘it is an attractive proposition for a large space’.

He adds: ‘Mount Sophia may be quiet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t draw a crowd who is looking to chill out at an alternative venue in town.’

His career in the nightlife business started in the 1990s when he worked as an entertainment manager for former club operator Peter Wong, the trailblazer who turned the sleepy Mohamed Sultan Road into a bustling clubbing district with his nightspot Madam Wong.

Mr Jimmy Wong, a former DJ, is channelling all his energy and resources into making Le View work.

On Jan 1, he will close the six-year-old Rav to focus on his new venture. Rav’s monthly profits have been used to fund Le View, and he and his two business partners have each forked out over $100,000.

Earnings from Le View will be the main source of income for him. His wife Kathleen Soh, 31, gave birth to their second child Reykell last week. She is in charge of Le View’s marketing and advertising.

He says: ‘If an opportunity presents itself, we should go for it. We are young and not afraid of hard work.’

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