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  1. #1
    I am in Jail
    Butterfly's Avatar
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    The Big Mango: Another failed business in LoS

    The Big Mango was my favorite place in Nana to grab a burger before hitting the joints and getting wasted, they had the best burgers in town. It was also a nice place to sit before hitting the storm of the night.

    Recently, unfortunately, it was always closed. Of course no announcement or reasons for closing down (drugs, underage girls, bribes) but I noticed they had a website blog, a quite famous, nice, and funny blog actually.

    Well after looking through the archives, I found their farewel notice with a nice and clear reminder that doing business in Thailand is always very risky, even for a small shitty bar with no pretention like the Big Mango.

    They will be missed. They were my favorite place with Woodstock. Again another nice and simple idea down the drain.

    Here is the full story:
    My Thoughts on the Closing of the Big Mango Bar and The Evolution of The Girl Scene in Thailand by BigBabyKenny at The FARANG Speaks 2 Much

    The closing of The Big Mango and the recent internet commentary about the allegedly sad state of Nana, Soi Cowboy, and Patpong might leave Thailand fans despondent.

    But unlike other internet commentators, I believe there is no cause for alarm. The girl scene is alive and well, as large and dynamic as it ever was.

    What is occurring is the natural and predictable evolution of the scene as it responds to external market forces—-in this case the dictatorial Thai government and the corrupt Thai police.

    The bars and GoGo’s in Nana, Patpong, and Soi Cowboy that employ the barfine business model are uniquely vulnerable to being held up by the Thai government and police. Because they must operate out of fixed locations and only certain locations are approved for this type of business, the government and police have the ability to tax or extort money from them—which of course they are happy to do.

    The police can show up, demand any amount of money, and the bar or GoGo owner has two choices, knuckle and pay or close for business.

    The government can show up, threaten all types of cost increasing regulation, demand any amount of money, and the bar or GoGo owner has two choices, knuckle and pay or close for business.

    It is true that in both these situations, the police or government can miscalculate and demand so much money that the bar or GoGo owner is better off closing his business, which is what appears to have happened to the Big Mango, but in most cases, the amount demanded will approximate the owner’s profits, leaving just enough to keep the business open, operating, and generating profit—which the police and government will quickly and happily extort.

    The only situation in which an owner can make money is to perform better than people expect. When an owner signs a lease, the rent is set so the landowner captures the expected profits a normal owner would generate during the term of the lease. The owner can make money for a limited period of time if for some reason, e.g. the owner is exceptionally talented at running his business, he earns more than the predicted profit.

    Of course, when the term of the lease expires and the rent must be renegotiated the landlord will reset the rent to capture the newly revealed higher profit. This is probably what led to the demise of the Big Mango Bar.
    In most industries and developed countries, a business can escape this situation by signing a long term lease, signing a lease with a pre-negotiated renewal price, or by simply moving his business down the street to an alternative location with a different landlord.


    Normally, competition among landlords limits or eliminates this type of predatory behavior.

    Because the beerbar and GoGo business is limited to certain areas, owner’s options in the Beerbar and GoGo business are limited and they are uniquely vulnerable to predatory landlords, corrupt policeman, and government regulators.

    In this environment, you wouldn’t expect the owners to pour much capital into improving their business. If they do spend money on capital improvements which lead to more profits, the profits will simply be hijacked at the next police visit or lease expiration.


    This explains the generally run down state of the bars in Nana, Patpong, and Soi Cowboy. Only an idiot would pour tons of money into the physical setup of a business that might be forced to close tomorrow because every dollar spent increases the leverage the police and government have over the owner. It is more profitable to keep a rundown beat up bar that one could lock up, close down, and walk away from tomorrow without any financial consequences.

    This line of thought might lead one to despair for the future of the Thailand girl scene but do not forget that people are intelligent, creative and history is replete with examples of people avoiding or finding some way of neutralizing the predations of a corrupt government.

    I believe this has already happened in Thailand.

    Most of us know that the best TG’s, the most TG’s, and the best prices and terms in the TG market are not found at Beerbars and GoGo’s.

    Beerbars and GoGo’s are fine for the clueless tourist with a 3 day Bangkok vacation or for simply dropping into and looking at the girls, but most of us with a little experience and more time to spend in Thailand find their TG’s in other venues and locations.

    I have no personal knowledge, but I would be willing to bet that most of Smitty and pmmp’s TG friends are freelancers they met at venues outside Nana, Soi Cowboy, or Patpong. Like any intelligent, knowledgeable farang, including myself, they meet their TG’s where quality and price is best—-the Freelancer Market.

    The great feature about the Freelancer Market is that there is no way for the police to extort it, the government to tax or regulate it, or an unrestrained landlord to divert its income stream.

    If the police showed up at Gullivers, the Beergarten, or the Thermae, and their extortionate demands force their closing, the girls and the farangs would just move down the street to another bar and the market would continue to operate as before. Sure the owners of these places would be worse off, but the girls and the farangs would be unaffected.

    I believe most of the Girl Scene has already migrated out of the Beerbars and GoGo’s into the Freelancer Market and the Freelancer Market has spread so that it covers Bangkok like a fine layer of dust in an old house. TG’s who want to bang farangs can be found at Pantip Plaza, MBK, Sukhumvit outside the Thermae, and up and down Rachada.

    Happily there is no way for the police or the Thai government to outlaw, tax, or even regulate these venues. They will continue to exist and thrive no matter what the Thai government or police do and IMHO are as healthy dynamic and fun to participate in as they ever were and will continue to be so into the foreseeable future.

    On closing note, I would like to say to pmmp and Smitty—Do Not Despair.

    The moronic rapacious Nana landlords, the fcorrupt Thai Police, and the despotic Thai government have not taken or diminished your most valuable asset. You still possess what allowed you to start from scratch and build the Big Mango Bar into the success and all around great fun place to patronize it was.

    Still intact is what will allow you to reinvent and restart The Big Mango on a sounder foundation and build it into something larger, greater, and, of course most importantly, more profitable than The Big Mango bar ever was (maybe you should consider calling the new place The Huge Mango Bar).

    You walk away with your creativity, imagination, entrepreneurial spirit and exceptional business acumen still in your possession.

    You are like the soldiers who abandoned their arms and equipment when they escaped the invading Nazi’s at Dunkirk—the soldiers who got back to England, regrouped, rearmed, and returned to Continental Europe on D-day—the soldiers who ultimately annihilated Hitler, defeated the Nazi’s hordes, got the hugely enjoyable and well deserved last laugh, and got to bang all the grateful newly liberated French babes.

  2. #2
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    So it goes.

  3. #3
    My kind of town
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    So it always goes.

    I had a business in Thailand and the government put the squeeze on me pretty hard. I took a picture with my camera phone of the jerk that was shaking me down and sent him on his way. Then I closed the doors a few days later for good, packed up and moved. Lost about 400, 000 baht, but I spent that amount knowing that I could lose it. If you do it that way it takes the sting out it!

  4. #4
    Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
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    Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.........

  5. #5
    I am in Jail

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    Stickman had a piece on that about a month or two ago. Claims the landlord wanted an outrageous sum to renew the lease and that was what forced them out.

    I agree with you about their burgers. Great char-broiled and cold beer lao.

  6. #6
    Mea-Culpa
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    Just one way to put this "AMAZING THAILAND"

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat
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    Most of Nana Plaza is owned by an Indian family. They certainly extract their pound of flesh, but they are mostly considered to 'play the game'.
    Big Mangos space wasn't. It is owned by the same family that own a tailor shop underneath, in the same building I believe.

    When the time came to renew the lease, not only did they want to jack up the rent outrageously (rumours were in excess of 100&#37, but they also insisted on a disproportionate amount paid as key money, i.e. up front. They would not budge, or even negotiate. Big Mango did the predictable thing, and walked. When they were about 2/3 rd of the way through stripping the premises, the landlord approached them with a significantly more reasonable offer. Big Mango presumably told them to stick it where the sun don't shine. The space stands empty now, and I hope it does for a looong time.

    And I hope the Mango opens up again somewhere else, hopefully with a better lease and a less rapacious landlord.
    probes Aliens

  8. #8
    Mea-Culpa
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    ^ Mango did the right thing...Som-nam-na to those fokkers there have an empty building now.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat
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    Well it seems that some of the Cowboy bars have certainly invested considerable sums - take Baccara for example.

  10. #10
    I am in Jail

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    It always seemed to me that Big Mango didn't have a lot of business. I would go in there early evening for a burger and beer about twice a year and the other bars always seemed more crowded. I don't like Nana much so didn't take a look later at night. However, Mango was nice, the girls did not try to get in your face, you could take your laptop and use the free wifi after work, and generally, it was totally hassle free, unlike those street level bars filled with FLs.

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