THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

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The news a few weeks ago that one of Hong Kong’s larger-than-life characters in the local restaurant industry who had his name branded on at least three high-profile eateries has been shown the door, adds to what has become a confusing, dysfunctional business built largely on smoke and mirrors and the gift of the gab.

For a number of years, the impression given to many was that this chef was the master of his own domain. That he called all the shots. Now we learn that he was only the front man shooting blanks. The real power lay with the investor group for the simple reason that they had all the financial clout. Now, they have taken over running their restaurants- surely, the names of these restaurants will have to change?- whereas the celebrity chef is supposedly looking to investors in the US to reposition the next reincarnation of this personality who has already had to reinvent himself a number of times in the past.

His latest fall from grace comes hot on the heels of the closure of The Beijing Club, once the high-profile magnet for Hong Kong’s trendies when it first opened with a massive bang. And now, it’s apparently imploded.

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For those who were telling us that though the Beijing Club might have come-a-cropper, the same investor group’s Magnum Club is “the hottest club in town”, and attracting Hong Kong’s rich and famous, we hear different. We could be dead wrong, but we hear this club, too will soon be history.

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Right now, despite the daily mantra that many clubs and restaurants in Hong Kong are fronts for money launderers from Mainland China and, suddenly, Russia, we doubt it’s as widespread as made out to be. When asked, those chanting this mantra are unable to explain with any logic how this “business model” works and how and where it all comes out in the wash.

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Perhaps more relevant, and more truthful is that there are those who simply have more smarts about the owning of property, creating new concepts that attract investors, retaining controlling interests in their businesses and, as with the stock market, knowiwhen to buy low, when to sell high, and, most importantly, when to stop flogging a dead horse and move on to greener pastures.

That’s just simply called being street smart, seeing trends before they happen- or come grinding to a halt- and expanding their business base.

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