Nocturnal types in search of just one more drink or a late-night snack need worry no more, because Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said Sunday that bars and restaurants can stay open 24 hours —assuming they keep order amongst customers and peace with their neighbors.
Although the news was greeted with enthusiasm from the small number of foreign-owned bars that already open late, beer garden owners shrugged off the change, saying they close at midnight because most of their Cambodian clientele has gone to bed anyway.
“The municipality wants citizens and visitors to be able to visit many places at late hours,” Kep Chuktema said in a telephone interview.
“But the municipality will close any beer gardens and restaurants when the municipality figures out that there are crimes or conflicts occurring at restaurants or beer gardens,” he said.
“Furthermore, the owners must be responsible for any complaints from neighbors,” Kep Chuktema said. Daun Penh district officials had made similar comments last month after bars had been told to close at midnight on Oct 6.
Tan Ty Hao, better known as “Howie” of Howie’s Bar, heaved a sigh of relief when he heard about 24-hour rule. “I was so scared I would have to close my business,” he said.
Howie’s Bar opens at 7:00 pm, but rarely are there many customers before midnight. The clientele includes people who have left nightclubs late, and some who work in other bars and come in after work, Howie said.
Chhient Mol, manager of Walkabout hotel and bar, said that his 24-hour establishment has hotel rooms upstairs, which qualify it to stay open continuously.
He has 24-hour security and methods to prevent trouble among those who drink too much. “I tell the staff that if someone gets really drunk, don’t sell them beer,” Chhient Mol said.
Two beer garden managers interviewed on Sunday were not interested in all-night business. “The order is good, but I couldn’t run my business 24 hours—we feel exhausted, and there are not many clients at midnight,” said Khoeun, manager of Bopha Angkeasil restaurant in Chamkar Mon district.