Hot! Meet Fatty’s Bar & Diner: Your Alternative Live Music Stop in Bangkok (Video)

Fatty's Bar and DinerFrom the crowd of Bangkok bars boasting live music, Fatty’s Bar & Diner has become a successful business in Bangkok by offering an unexpected escape from trendy restaurants and endless cover bands. Here, owners Matthew Fischer and Kae Maeboonruan talk with ThaiLawForum about why they wanted to start a business in Bangkok, their struggles as business entrepreneurs, and why providing good food at affordable prices and supporting Bangkok’s local bands matters more than making a large profit.

Don’t miss the full video interview below!

TLF: What made you want to open an American dive bar in Bangkok?

Matt: I didn’t really set out to open a dive bar, but I wanted to open a place where we could all play our music and have a good time, just like some sort of community place for all of the people I knew here.

TLF: When you opened Fatty’s did you purposefully set out to be the “antithesis of the trendy Bangkok dining scene,” as Coconuts put it?

Matt: Maybe in a way. I think that my personality has always lent to being the antithesis of any situation I’m in. That was in our minds of course—to offer this [alternative]. I always said ‘how come it’s so hard to go get a burger in this town without paying through the nose.’ The whole idea of what this place is all about—it’s about real music, real food, and a good price.

TLF: USA Today’s listed Fatty’s as #5 on its “10 Best for Bangkok Live Music” and called Fatty’s a “Bangkok institution.” You were listed with other venues that have been in Bangkok for decades like Brown Sugar and Saxophone. How does it feel to have Fatty’s on a list along with those venues?

Matt: I didn’t know that until right now. If I could see the list, what you just mentioned is almost surprising to me because if we were listed alongside places like Brown Sugar and Saxophone, I say ‘thanks.’ I think that what I’ve done with the music here has been just about me inviting bands that I like out here, and my friends who are in bands and keep it real, keep it original. The whole scene of Bangkok’s cover music and hotel bands and soul bands playing ‘standards’—I set out to be the antithesis of that and that’s what I keep trying to do.

TLF: As a small business owner, why is supporting local bands important to you?

Matt: I think that the music industry in the world and in this city especially, is overrun by commerce and… not real music. And supporting real bands—kids that just want to play, that are writing their own music—that’s huge for me because I think not enough people are doing it.

TLF: What’s your secret to running a successful restaurant in Bangkok?

Kae: We are not like other people. We don’t try to make a lot of profit. We just want to be like a living room for other people to come and join and keep coming back.

Matt: I honestly believe that that’s exactly the recipe for our success because we are not business people, we’re not entrepreneurs, and we’re not looking around the corner for the next thing to make us money. We spent all of our life savings on opening this place and opened the doors and said, ‘I hope this works because we’ve got no more money.’

We never really did set out to be a restaurant that was really well known… A lot of people who come in here, they come back again, and another time because they feel like this part of their community, this is part of their thing, they discovered us.

Watch the full interview: