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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Life’s a beach bar

Life’s a beach bar

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Chea Navy, a 23-year-old bar owner, stands behind the bartop at Heng Hut Bar on Occheuteal Beach, where she says business has been is good.

TAKING on a bar is a precarious venture, even if you have a prime beachfront site, but this does not seem to faze Chea Navy. The 23-year-old took over Heng Hut Bar and Restaurant on Occheuteal Beach five months ago.

“Before I used to work here,” she says. “I have worked for five years at restaurants on the beach.”

Initially she waited at restaurants for her aunt, but after she married she turned first to cooking and then to management.

“When this restaurant came up for rent, I took it,” she says.

Chea Navy has a two-year licence, paying US$500 each month.

“Business is really good, but this month has become quiet,” she says. “A few months ago a lot of tourists came here.”

Despite her management inexperience, Chea Navy seems to have learned the three most important factors for business success: location, location, location.

“This is a good site for business,” she says. “Most foreigners they come to enjoy themselves here.”

Together with her husband, Chea Navy raised US$5,000 to take on the restaurant. While she works at the bar, her husband is busy cooking in the kitchen. It seems a sensible division of labour. “He is so shy,” she says.

At the moment the couple have no clear direction for the future. “We just run the restaurant and do not have any other plans yet,” she says. “Other owners have run their restaurants for a long time and have saved a lot more money.”

As for the recent improvements to the beachfront, Chea Navy is a fan.

“For my business it is very good,” she says. “My heart also likes it. We have the walkway. It looks better than before.”

INTERPRETER: RANN REUY

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