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Howie Taing has sold his bar and is moving away.
Howie Taing has sold his bar and is moving away. Bennett Murray

Howie’s no more – but boozy institution to remain

Howie’s Bar – long a mandatory late-night stop on Street 51 for bar-crawling Phnom Penh expats – is no longer Howie’s. After nearly 17 years, Chinese-Cambodian-American proprietor Howie Taing sold the establishment last Thursday after deciding to leave Phnom Penh.

Taing announced plans to sell the bar on June 10 via his personal Facebook page, with an asking price of $22,000. He said this week that he would return to Seattle in the US with his children after a long absence.

A man of few words, Taing offered little explanation this week as to how he had selected the new owner, Voan Mao, from “many buyers”.

“I sold [the bar] to the Khmer people who sell food [next door],” he explained. “Go get more information from them.”

In an interview with Post Weekend last month, Taing indicated that the number of customers in his bar had declined in recent years – along with business in other establishments along the Street 51 nightlife strip.

Mao, whose family operates a few late-night food stalls nearby, declined to disclose his primary place of employment. He told Post Weekend he had never before personally run a bar – or a business – but assured regular patrons that for now, nothing inside the establishment would change: not the staff, the prices ($1.75 per draft), the menu or the pool table.

Mao added that he was open to suggestions.

“I don’t know whether old customers will come or new ones, but I want to listen to them,” Mao said. “I used to come to this place – it is like a family business.”

“I will keep everything the same, even the brand name – Howie’s Bar,” he added. “I like this bar.”

Howie’s opened in November 1999. The bar will host a “leaving party” for its previous owner on Sunday, Taing said.

Additional reporting by Vandy Muong

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