We caught up with Khun Chayangurn Ardam (aka Tai), a partner of the famous Telephone bar right on Silom Soi 4. Khun Tai tells us about the flourishing era before Covid-19, and how the pandemic has affected this famous bar in Bangkok.
“The economy will need several years before it could recover, but our business won’t be the same since most of our customers came from overseas and the regulars don’t come here every night.”Chayangurn Ardam (aka Tai)
We opened the Telephone bar over 30 years ago, and made it a memorable place for both tourists and party goers, and has become an institution where LGBTQI people would come.
Silom Soi 4 is the colour of the city that celebrates cultural and community diversity in the heart of Bangkok, attracting local and overseas tourists. The bustling night scene attracts people seeking fun, adventure, or just to hang out with friends. We welcome diversity, and though many people think it is only for LGBTQI people we also receive even families, straights and LGBTQI allies due to its prime location. Silom Soi 4 also attracts those seeking work for both Thais and neighbouring countries, and it is a dream destination that is full of opportunities filled with tourists and party-goers.
What made Telephone Bar so famous and able to operate until today is due to our renown customer service. In the past, when we started, technology was not this advanced and people didn’t have their own cell phones, at the bar when they wanted to hit on someone or say hi to each other we have something unique that no other bars have. Our concept was born to have a telephone on each table so customers can call each other and this became our selling point. But now we don’t have telephones anymore because of the technology and the rise of messaging applications, however, the charm of the bar is still there where we have great hospitality services. I would come to the bar every night because some customers want to see me because of my hospitality. So, I made sure we keep to our high standards, whether it’s hospitality, and food, we also have karaoke.
“When the bar survives, so does our staff”
When Covid-19 hit, and we had to close our doors as ordered from the government, we had to suspend some of our staff and the saddest part of all is that our business isn’t one of the priorities for the health relief. But we still keep all of our staff, finding ways to help the business and for our staff to get through this crisis. We have 26 staff, some are included within Thai social security and 6 are in part time positions. During lockdown there is no income, only bills, from utilities, insurance and staffing. Some of the staff get relief packages from social security but it isn’t enough, some have to go back to their hometown and some may never come back, some staff decided to find other jobs with more predictable wages.
The economy will need several years before it could recover, but our business won’t be the same since most of our customers are from overseas and the regulars don’t come here every night. Busy nights are usually Fridays and Saturdays. During the weekdays there aren’t that many customers like before Covid-19. The government does not support the bar and entertainment business, though we provide substantial income to the economy, and this sector is always the last to be opened due to Covid-19 measures. A local NGO, SWING provides us and our staff with relief packages and meals, where the government never bothers to care.
I want to let all our customers know that Silom Soi4 – a place of diversity where restaurants, karaoke, bars and drag shows are available and we welcome everyone. We want to tell you that for the newcomers, Silom Soi 4 is not only just gay bars. There is more to that, just come and have some dinner or sing some karaoke or watch some of the fiercest drag shows in Thailand. We cannot solely rely on foreign tourists anymore and we want our locals to support us. You can come and have a chat with food and sing a song. Silom Soi 4 always welcomes you. “When the bar survives, so does our staff”.
Tai (Chayangurn Ardam)
Since 1 November 2021, the Thai government has lifted the curfew in Bangkok, allowing pubs and bars to open.
Please come and support the Telephone!
For more information on Telephone