Wan Chai landmark closes after landlord pulls lease

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am


One of Wan Chai's landmark watering holes has closed its doors for the first - and last - time. The Bridge in Lockhart Road, which was open around the clock, closed last week after a dispute between the landlord and the bar's owners.

Police said the landlord had had enough of some of the more 'colourful' behaviour alleged to have gone on in the early hours of the morning.

'We carried out a serious drugs case there - an undercover officer was sold cocaine,' a police source said. 'When this happens on the premises we put a notice on the landlord, so if another incident happens within the next 12 months, the magistrate will close the premises.

'It will also mean that you'll not be able to use the premises for the next six months, and we would actually close it and seal it off. The landlord was worried that his premises was being used for purposes he wasn't happy with and there was a dispute with the people leasing it.'

Once a drugs case occurs, a magistrate can issue an order to the landlord, which serves as an official warning to the landlord that under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, if a drug offence happens again the place can be closed down.

'The landlord just said enough is enough, and did not want to continue the lease,' the police source said.

Recently the bar's licensing conditions had also changed from being open 24 hours to serving alcohol on the premises until 4am. An insider with knowledge of the situation said it was this combination of things that forced the management to close the bar, but that they were leaving with a big smile on their face.

'They have made plenty of money from the Bridge and could have walked away sooner if they wanted to,' the insider said. 'The lease was not up until January and they were not losing any revenue. They still run Bar 109, which is just two doors down from the Bridge and is a popular bar as well. It's not like they'll be that worried about what happened.'

For nearly eight years the Bridge has long been a haven for all things that go bump in the night. Depending on what ungodly hour revellers went there, they could be greeted with the thumping sounds of techno music or a scene from Michael Jackson's Thriller video - sometimes both. Either way, they'd probably be too full of beer to care.

However, things took a turn for the worse as alleged tales of drug use and prostitution became known. In February the Post was contacted by four drinkers who said they had been drugged and robbed while in Wan Chai; each one said they had visited the Bridge in the early hours before later blacking out.

The Bridge was a huge fixture of Wan Chai nightlife and its demise will be mourned by many. Its closure follows that of other well-known watering holes in the area, such as the Laguna Music Club and Bar on Fenwick Street, which closed in September.

That place, where for 10 years some of the city's domestic helpers let their hair down on a Sunday afternoon, was bought by the group that owned the nearby Escape (formerly Fenwick's) and Traffic nightclubs. It is understood the deal involved between HK$50 million and HK$60 million.