Over a decade after it first brought eggs Benedict and churros with decadent hot chocolate to brunch-starved Bangkok, Asoke’s Chu
will be closing its doors for the final time.
The Asoke cafe announced on Facebook last Friday that it would soon be shutting its Exchange Tower branch following 14 months of uncertainty.
Cafe owner Toey Na Ranong, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and former food writer, has been an outspoken critic of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically as it relates to the food and beverage industry.
He has often called for direct financial support for the industry, one that employs millions and yields billions in revenue for the country each year, as it endures costly dine-in bans and other strict official measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.
He has also spoken out against hardball tactics made by power-player landlords.
Toey told BK that the cafe had received a less than five percent discount on its rent obligations over the past 14 months. “We’ve paid roughly 6 million baht in rent since the pandemic hit and we lost 40,000 customers last year,” he said.
“[Now] the building owners won’t even take a meeting with us,” he added. “The entire year we only spoke to middle management who are just ‘doing their jobs’ and ‘can’t make decisions.’ This week I requested a meeting with the boss and when the time came he didn’t show up.”
Since making the announcement, Chu has seen comments of support pour in from across the world. Many have reminisced about the cafe’s status as a hub for group meals with friends and family, or even for business meetings.
“I am that person from Barcelona that you let step into the very first CHU when it was still under construction… I have had there so many nice breakfasts, lunches, chats and farewells (I have had there a last ice coffee or chocolate with many friends leaving Thailand for good)... and I am now deeply sad to [say farewell to] you for good too,” wrote Facebook user Montse Amado on Chu’s post, which had received over 1,000 reactions and been shared over 350 times at time of publishing.
A second branch of the cafe, located in Sathorn’s Trinity Complex, had already closed in December 2019, leaving only the original branch in operation.
Chu will remain open for limited dine-in through Sunday, May 30.