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Roo: The Future of Soi Seven/One
Some time ago I wrote that Soi 7/1 was becoming more than just the home of the Eden Club. I speculated that the tea leaves suggested this might become a major bar soi. Well it is pat-on-the-back time and there is nothing like a little self congratulation!
A couple of months ago I trundled into the new Absolute 7 bar in Soi 7/1. I had heard glowing reviews about this bar so I was hopeful. And indeed I thought “yes it is a nice bar” and the three open floors above are a nice feature. But otherwise it has nothing to really recommend it. Two pool tables, a bar and a handful of bored girls. Even the large restaurant sign promising foods lead to little more than a very normal and limited Thai menu. I really could not see why all that money was spent on the upper floors as getting people upstairs is never easy. A lesson one might have thought Thomas, the operator, would have learnt with his denouement at Privilege.

I must admit that the above was my impression then. I had a look last night and it looked busier with even one of the first floor pool tables in use, and there is now a more comprehensive menu. I get the feeling that Absolute 7 is getting a following, so Thomas may after all have another profitable bar to go with New Wave around the corner in Soi 7. But I still feel that Absolute 7 is missing something.
What it is probably missing is a hands-on, caring owner. Well, one bar that is clearly not missing that factor is the Down Under bar about half way up the soi on the left. The Down Under is run by Rob an ex-Aussie no rules player. I suspect that it is the appearance of this bar that has enlivened the soi. Rob has several good ideas. The first is one that is very close to my heart, or should I say gullet as well as pocket. Johnny Walker red label here is the same as imported vodka and gin as opposed to the price of Black Label. It has long been a bitch of mine that Red Label which costs 50% of Black label, is sold at the same price. Indeed a shot of Red in happy hour is 49 Baht here, whilst at normal hours it is 90 Baht. Of course that may only affect a few people but this straight talking Aussie also has an extensive Lady drinks menu with a clear note saying the ladies, or for those with lady in their title should I say recipients of such drinks, receive 40 Baht. Another feature here is the excellent evening barbi providing free sausages and more between 7 and 9. It is small wonder that Rob, who claims to always be on hand (and probably is), has built a good business so quickly from nothing. “Best months of my life,” he assures me. Well having spent all those years getting injured in no rules I am not surprised. But he clearly knows the main requirements to make a bar work: hard work, imagination and giving a damn!
A concept that Rob brought to the soi was what I would called a veranda and he calls a deck. I said he was good not that he could speak English! Anyway The Down Under bar has a raised area in front of it on which there are some nice sensible high tables and stools as well as an impressive wooden Roo. This works very well and now most other bars have built up their veranda so they can be seen from the soi entrance, as well as providing a good vantage point for customers.
Opposite Down under is the Boo-Sa-Bar run by a Brit. Andrew. I wrote about him before and he is still plugging away and seems to have got a pleasant business going , in fact he is enamored enough with this soi to have opened another bar, on the other side, called Blue Star Bar.
There are nine bars now in Seven/One with Night Flight, PP Beer, B & S Beer joining two other as-yet-unnamed bars. These new bars, some of which have come from Asoke, are in such a hurry to open they have little more than a deck with a bar on it. They have still to do the conversions of the shop houses they have obtained.
I spoke to Allan, one of the partners in Tequila Bar in Rajah Hotel car park, and he tells me that with David of the Red Dragon, also of this infamous car park, he will open The Tequila Dragon. This will be at the very top of the soi on the right in the last two shop houses. A ground floor bar, first floor pool tables and second floor VIP lounge/meeting room are planned. No lift I am told: so only for mountain goats and fitness freaks. So when the Tequila Dragon is open that will make ten.
Elsewhere in the soi there are a few small hotels including the World Inn, and the Star Inn. The Star Inn is next door to the Eden and has access round the back from that establishment! Rod’s description of the how he benefits from the Eden Bar is worth a few lines. He says he gets two types of business: those who come into his bar to build up Dutch courage before prancing across the road to the joys behind the wooden door. And those who stagger out of that door looking shell shocked and need several snifters to recover!
There are few food places with a large Subway outfit at the entrance to the soi and a small pizza place that has sprung up near the Star Inn. In addition there are a few places offering “massage” services including the Boo-Sa-Bar.
There are still a small number of empty and lived in shop houses on this soi, and I am sure that they will soon become bars, or related businesses. That means that this soi can do nothing else but get better as a bar soi. In fact it shouts gogo and if somebody could get a license for a gogo there, I am sure they would make a fortune. As a nice and wide dead-end street there is little, or no traffic, so as a nightlife area it is ideal.
So the powers-that-be who do not want any more nightlife areas, nor any more bars, are out of luck. That is thanks to Rob because it is his Down Under that has made 7/1 into a successful bar soi and at the same time almost certainly saved Thomas from another denouement in the process.

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