Opening a bar in Pattaya is a dicey proposition in the best of times. Doing it just before a global pandemic would seem to be a death sentence.
But the Welcome Lounge on Soi Welcome in Jomtien Beach has managed to survive the shutdown of Thailand’s borders and Pattaya’s economic collapse. Keeping the business open was a statement of determination to help all Soi Welcome businesses by Australian owner Simon Brown.
Brown, 42, said Dec. 17 that he opened the Welcome Lounge this year in the spot that once was the Rehab Bar and Jomtien Guesthouse, which failed in 2018.
He replaced it with a lively watering hole with graffiti artwork and a hip-hop vibe.
But the bar was hit immediately by the month’s long Covid-19 shutdown. But he didn’t give up. When bars were allowed to reopen in July, he put his girlfriend in charge of running the bar with the goal of keeping Soi Welcome lively.
In another interview last month, Brown said he has no delusions about turning big profits anytime soon. He said only if the street looks open and lively will people come. The lounge itself offers drinks from 50 baht and offers music and games to keep people entertained.
So he and other business owners are taking turns staging events to “welcome” people to the soi, such as pool competitions, birthday parties, meetings and charity events. Staying open also provides a lifeline to employees, he said.
Brown, a former yacht chef, settled in Pattaya for the weather and culture and has developed many friends here.