SCMP Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Restaurants happy with 'hip and trendy' name


Business owners and managers in the SoHo district in Central yesterday branded objections to "SoHo" street signs as irrelevant and immature.
Kim Minards, general manager at Staunton's Wine Bar and Cafe in Staunton Street, said: "It's already being identified as SoHo everywhere - in the press, with the Hong Kong Tourist Authority and on the street."
Ms Minards said fears that the area was going to develop a bad reputation were completely groundless.
"It's just not going to happen - it's never going to be like Wan Chai or Lan Kwai Fong because this is very much a restaurant area and we are so restricted anyway," she said. "We only have our liquor licences until 11pm and . . . by 12 midnight, it's dead."
Richard Smith, manager at The Bayou, said: "It's a bit immature, really. It's just a name that's stuck.
"Changing it now would just confuse people . . . It's also a very clever abbreviation.'
Mr Smith noted that the name ought to have a positive association with the eclectic London district of the same name.
"In terms of how tourists think about it, there's always an article or a description accompanying the name, so there's no reason to worry about a negative connotation," he said.
Fat Angelo's general manager, Jerome Ip, said the name was just a simple, catchy title to intrigue people into "checking out the area", and to "give it more of a community feel".
"People will have heard of it, they'll relate to it and it will arouse their curiosity.
"The other names are just so formal, so technical and computer-agey," he said, referring to proposed names like "Staunton Street Themed Dining Area" and "Elgin Street Themed Dining Area".
Meadow Bar and Restaurant co-owner Ahlaia Yung said the name gave the area a positive association as a "vibrant, international part of the city, a cultural centre that is open to anything".
Antique store owner Lau Wing Yiu said he could not understand the objections to the name. "It's only a name," he said. "It's good that more people are coming to the area and bringing it to life."
Mr Lau's store has been at its Elgin Road location for 33 years and he likes the transformation he has seen. "It's nice to see more people walking around - it brings more energy to the neighbourhood," he said.
American tourist Michael Giger said: "I associate the name with New York's SoHo, a very artsy, eclectic area, with all sorts of cafes and restaurants."
Sven Busch, a pop singer from Paris, said he thought the name made the area sound very "hip and trendy" and made him think of New York's SoHo.
"I've been to 80 countries and have never seen anything like this - a community built around an escalator - it's revolutionary," he said.