Tokyo bar where financial power brokers partied closes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 11:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 January, 2014, 11:22pm

Heartland, the bar in Tokyo's Roppongi Hills complex where bankers from Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers partied in legendary fashion before the 2008 financial crisis, then returned to drown their sorrows, has shut its doors after more than a decade.

The bar, downstairs from the Japan headquarters of Goldman Sachs and Barclays as well as the former Japan head office of Lehman, closed yesterday, Kan Yamamoto, a spokesman for Kirin Holdings, said by phone. The Tokyo-based brewer opened the bar in 2003 to promote its Heartland-brand beer.

"The brand has gained enough support from our customers now", with sales growing at more than 10 per cent annually in recent years, Yamamoto said. There are no plans to move or reopen the bar in the immediate future, he said.

Once an exuberant party venue where the champagne started flowing at 5pm, Heartland suffered a 30 per cent drop in revenue after Lehman went bankrupt and Goldman Sachs cut back staff in Japan, leaving it with fewer customers.

The bar in recent years saw an influx of new patrons from Google and Apple, both of which moved their Japan headquarters to Roppongi Hills as financial firms vacated.

Heartland and Goldman Sachs were both original tenants in Mori Building Co's Roppongi Hills development, a complex including offices, shops, restaurants, apartments, a hotel, an art museum and a movie theatre.

Before the financial crisis, bankers from upstairs would order as many as 100 champagne glasses for parties and offer them to bar staff and strangers, Mai Shioya, a manager at Heartland, said in April last year.

But takings began to tumble after the financial crisis hit the sector.

Banking industry customers drank less.

In April 2009, after overseas financial companies cut about 16 per cent of their Japan workforce in 15 months, or 4,300 jobs, Heartland hosted a "pink-slip party" to help unemployed bankers network and find new jobs. But its efforts to boost business were to no avail.