With big plans for a tiny bar, a pair of young Frenchmen have taken over the Rainbow 69 go-go bar in Nana Plaza.
NOTE This is an update to my earlier story, with all-new information on the new French owners.
Despite being new to the Thailand go-go game with Rainbow 69, the pair are not new to the entertainment and hospitality business. They own a restaurant in Thonglor, nightclub in Silom and even a downtown gym off Sukhumvit Road.
The pair of French nationals are the second group of young lads to buy a Nana bar this year, marking perhaps a “changing of the guard” at the entertainment plaza, where most bars are owned by Gen-Xers in their 50s.
Serious renovation is now underway at Whiskey. Power saws screech throughout the day at the Plaza, where the construction cacophony is complemented by the same work going on at Lace Lounge and a new Tee-owned space.
Rainbow 69: Small Bar, Big Plans
In an interview, last week the French nationals said they plan to simply observe how their new Rainbow 69 toy runs before making any changes. But, with high-end clubs and restaurants already in their portfolio, they have ideas of making Rainbow 69 “really different”, with a focus on interior design, service and entertainment offerings.
Rainbow 69 – the former Casanova ladyboy bar – is tiny. It’s so small, you have to go outside to change your mind. Rainbow 69 is so small, there’s no place for the Thais to put all their paper cups, meal bowls and other crap, so it’s piled up on a table right as you enter the bar.
(The same thing happens at the much-larger Bunny 2, something former owner Marc would never have tolerated while it was Blondie. But Thai-run bars never care about aesthetics.)
The upside of a small bar like Rainbow 69 is that it only takes a few people to make it look full. The rent is lower and fewer staff means smaller salary bills. The downside is that it’s impossible to do the volumes to make any real profit, if there’s any profit at all.
If Tee, who rents a third of the Plaza now, didn’t want it, that should have been a warning sign.
Indeed, the Nana grapevine has it that Rainbow 69 will lose all of its current 20 dancers at the end of the month. The girls, and their mamasan, were part of Tee’s network and its expected the dancers will either leave for the other Tee-owned Rainbow or Twister bars or work in two new bars he’s building in the shells of former short-time hotels.
The French duo did bring in their own mamasan – and long-ago Angelwitch bartender and former mama at the defunct London Calling (which ironically is now a Rainbow bar), but she brought no girls to the show and doesn’t have a stable of them to call on.
Whiskey No More
As for Whiskey, which was purchased by a pair of young Spaniard, the concrete stage at Whiskey is gone, but a similarly shaped but lower stage, being built. The wood frame is in place. Likewise, all the seating has been pulled and two new rows of stadium seating is being constructed in wood. Sawdust is thick as snow everywhere on the middle floor of the Soi 4 complex.
Some unknowledgeable sources pontificated baselessly that the work would be done in 10 days. Not a chance.
Stickman Bangkok this week reported that the Spaniards, who speak very little-to-no English, were planning to turn the go-go spot into a “high-end whiskey bar”, a notion that had other plaza bar owners laughing out loud.
Whiskey & Go-Go began life in 2020 as just that: A go-Go focusing on high-end spirits. The prices were ridiculous and no one bought them. That marked the first step downhill for Whiskey, which was sold last month to the Spanish pair for far less than owners hoped.
Stickman was more polite than the bar owners, all of whom either tried or knew someone who tired – and failed – with the same concept over the past 20+ years.
“Shoot me for being negative but Team Spain is said to be new to the go-go bar business. I’m all for innovation and I wish them well, but don’t go trying to reinvent the wheel,” Stickman wrote.