Siem Reap’s small but vibrant alternative scene, normally a haven of love, peace and mediation, has been ripped apart with fightin’, fussin’ and feudin’. The angst is mainly over an unseemly business name dispute revolving around the iconic Singing Tree Café, that long-time haven of local hippiness.
The short version of the saga is that last November, the founders of the Singing Tree Café, Michael Batura and his wife Fin Sovvany, sold the business to Raja Yoga owner Maureen Chen and husband Tom.
The café was to be run by Maureen and Tom and a new business – a vegetarian sandwich and juice bar in the Alley West called Singing Tree Corner – was to be a partnership between the Chens and Batura and his wife.
But the partnership has now been dissolved due to a bitter dispute over the ownership of the Singing Tree name.
Now, and try to keep up, the original Singing Tree Café has re-emerged from the ashes of the mini-war as the Peace Café, under the ownership of the Chens.
Meanwhile, with the Chens no longer partners in the juice bar, this business has been renamed the Singing Tree Café.
Last year on November 27, Michael Batura told 7Days that the business partnership with the Chens was a good deal. He said, “That we found like-minded people to keep it going and take it further is actually really exciting.”
But last week, Batura posted a note at the Singing Tree about the disintegration of the relationship with the Chens. The notice said, in part, “Singing Tree Café owners and staff would like you to know that we are not connected to them in any way, and take no responsibility for their claims, their actions, or their food.
“We regret if you have been confused…”