It’s been whispered about for months, but the owners are finally confirming it now — beloved expat bar and restaurant Hemingway’s will reopen in January on Sukhumvit Soi 11 — rebranded as the singular Hemingway — but probably still just called “hems” or “hemmys” by its die-hard fans.
Regular patrons gathered daily after work at the vintage Sukhumvit Soi 14 teak house for the bar’s killer happy hour, and often remained in the garden or around the cozy circular bar till they shut the doors around midnight. When the bar closed two years ago, it was a sad moment in Bangkok’s nightlife culture, particularly for those within expat circles.
Though the spot had only been open about three years, the American and Cuban cuisine restaurant made an indelible mark on life in the city, thanks in large part to its friendly staff and unforgettable location just steps from Bangkok’s busiest transport hub.
The new address will be just a few minutes walk from their old one, which was forced to close when the land was sold to hotel developers. The gorgeous century-old golden teak house — a former ambassador’s residence — was torn down to the chagrin of the management, customers, and fans of colonial-era architecture.
You may have already noticed the mysterious new building going up on Soi 11 where Italian bistro Zak’s used to stand. You might have recognized the portico on the front of the frame and thought “Hmmm, I’ve seen that shape before.” You would have been right. They are building a replica of the old house, and from the details revealed, it’s been a passion project and labor of love with the devil being housed squarely in the details.
Though a new structure obviously won’t have the history of the old house, General Manager and de facto face of the old Hemingway’s Damian Mackay told Coconuts, “There is no getting the old Hemingway’s house back, but the original team has been working hard to ensure Hemingway’s memory lives on. Our new Sukhumvit Soi 11 venue is purpose built from the ground up with the design focusing on recreating the distinctive characteristics of the original house.”
The property’s Managing Director, Brad Hall, said: “Our idea was to capture the lush garden, recreate the original portico and bar area using the original layout, furniture and décor. We were even able to find the same discontinued floor tiles sitting in a warehouse in Spain.”
At the closing, Mackay told us that they hoped to do just this — find a new spot nearby to rebuild their business. To that end, they had much of the old spot’s design elements and furniture, basically whatever they could save, stored for the occasion. Don’t be surprised if you walk up to the front door and see the shutters from the old house or the same large painting of Havana from the viewpoint of El Floridita hanging by the bar.
Like the old space, the new one will be two levels with an upstairs balcony and oasis vibe.
Mackay also got into the nitty gritty of the design, telling us: “We’ve used a lot of the old wood and some of the old house. The new one will be wood-clad to look like the old one with a garden that’s about 40 centimeters narrower, a portico about 50 centimeters wider, and a main bar about four meters wider.”
Cheers to the return of a much-missed Bangkok nightlife and — let’s be honest — day drinking spot. The extra meters at the main bar are also great news, since we never seemed able to snag a seat at the old one, no matter how early we got out of work.