Asahi changes image to attract crooners

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 March, 1993, 12:00am

IT seemed like a great idea at the time - 13,000 square feet of prime Hongkong real estate devoted to the pleasurable pursuit of supping Japanese beer.

But now, alas, two years on the Asahi Super Dry Beer Restaurant, occupying the subterranean levels of the Bank of America Tower, is undergoing a radical change of style and image.

The ''Asahi'' logo proudly announcing its presence is already down. And the Japanese management team that ran the establishment is packing its bags and preparing to leave for Tokyo.

Information reaching Keeping Posted seems to indicate that the place will be turned into an upmarket karaoke saloon - although ''live music bar'' is the exact term being used. But we are told Asahi beer will continue to be served to soothe parched throats put to full melodic voice.

Outgoing managing director Naoki Matsui said: ''The new management took over on Monday and by April the change-over should be complete.'' We'll have to wait and see how much of the present concept is left intact by the new owners, said to be Hongkong Chinese.

When it opened its doors in early 1991, the Asahi, as it came to be referred, raised a host of questions as to what constituted a ''beer restaurant''. The answer was quite simple: a place that offers both bar-type beer drinking and food.

The first thing that struck customers about the place (apart from its distinctly non-Japanese Greco-Roman decor) was its sheer scale: two bars, unlimited tables and several private dining rooms. And all done up at a cost of millions.

With about a dozen similar joints in Japan dedicated exclusively to its own product, the Hongkong venture was Asahi's first tentative step outside home ground.

So despite the early promise, what went amiss? That was a difficult one to get an answer to yesterday, although promotions of free beer might give a clue.

But we can categorically quash the rumour that in its new incarnation as a karaoke bar no one will be getting past the doorman unless they can prove they know the opening lines of My Way by heart.