Once a rabbit warren of sleezy bars and video game parlours, developers hope the Phnom Penh Pub Street concept will give new shine to a faded star
After years of slow decline, Golden Sorya Mall on Pasteur Street (Street 51) has been given a major overhaul and will re-launch later this month as Phnom Penh’s latest 24-hour food and drink venue.
Named “Phnom Penh Pub Street”, the open-plan complex boasts 29 outlets – some with two floors – all contained under a single roof, and promises a mix of themes and cuisines, ranging from local fare to Korean and Mexican.
“This is a new concept that is very popular overseas,” said Van Porlim, general manager for the family owners who also operate the chic Van’s Restaurant in the old Bank Indochina building near riverside.
“It is a tested theme that is very popular in Bangkok,” she said. “It will cater to both Cambodians and expats.”
Until the renovation, Golden Sorya Mall was a rabbit warren of sleezy bars and video game parlours where down-at-heel party girls and small-time drug dealers vied for the attention of mostly elderly and often decrepit Western male visitors.
It remains home to Pontoon, a popular night spot which often features top visiting DJs, and is opposite Heart of Darkness, the grandfather of Phnom Penh’s club scene.
Over the years, however, the area missed out on the development enjoyed elsewhere in the capital and went to seed. Addicts and drunkards could regularly be seen in the morning slumped on the pavements, sleeping off their respective poisons even as youngsters were being dropped off to attend one of the many schools in the area.
Tuk-tuk drivers were more likely to offer you an illicit substance than a ride somewhere, while drunken brawls were commonplace. If a troubled foreigner went missing in Cambodia, Golden Sorya Mall was usually the first place to check.
If the development succeeds, however, it could breathe new life into an area which has already caught the attention of adventurous developers.
The recently opened Purple Inn, a striking needle of a building opposite Pub Street, is already doing brisk business, while around the corner All Sports, a 24-hour dedicated sports bar, is well established in just a year of operation.
Just 300 metres away, the glitzy new Sorya Centre Point opened to great fanfare in February, boasting several international brand stores and a multiplex cinema.
One local shop owner who asked not to be named said he was delighted with the new Pub Street concept.
“I hope it will also bring some business to my store,” he said, “and if they can drive away the drug users from the area it will definitely attract more people.”
There are some slots still available in the complex, with rents ranging from $900 to $2,500 a month.
“It is quite interesting,” said one prospect, who identified himself only as Mr Chi when Post Property caught up with him viewing. “I am looking for a place to open a Korean restaurant.”
Property consultant Paul Ellender said he had no doubt the concept would be good for the area.
“I believe the development at Golden Sorya Mall will likely have a positive effect on surrounding businesses and apartments as there will be more people in the area 24/7,”he said.
“With more people around, this will make the area safer, more diverse and more attractive in the longer term.”
And could the launch impact land prices and rents – particularly of residences?
“This has been a publicly known project for some time so I think most of the impact has already taken effect,” said Ellender.
“Rents are now being squeezed more by the large condos around Phnom Penh than by a single development,” he added.
Although the official launch is only on May 30, a couple of bars have already opened and appear to be doing good business.
“The location is very good,” said Sok Tida, manager of one.