Name: Chris Foo.
Education: Bangkok Patana International School from Kindergarten until high school. It’s here I found my love for sport and represented the school in many teams including athletic, swimming and rugby. After that I went to college in Cardiff, where I studied advanced travel and tourism –so I could travel the world. Back here I studied Business Administration at ABAC.
Family: Dad is Chinese from Singapore but has been in Thailand over 40 years and Mum is from Cardiff, Wales, where my parents met at university. Dad worked for many years in Thailand as vice-president for the Minor Group in its food business, introducing brands like Swensens and Sizzlers to Thailand.
My wife Ramona is from Romania. We met in Thailand and have been together for 18 years, married for nine. She’s known as the ‘Queen of Salsa’ in Asia, a dancer and choreographer based here who works around the world at all kinds of events, including top Indian weddings, she also does a lot of choreography work for tv commercials, music videos and movies.
What languages do you speak? Thai and English.
What’s keeping you in Thailand? I love the country, the food, the weather and the people. I can do most of the things that I love to do here. I have many hobbies. My most favorite being ‘wakeskating’ and Thailand is home to one of the best places in the world to do this (Thai Wake Park). It also helps that we can do this all year round.
I have grown up and lived in Thailand for 36 years so it is home for me and I am lucky to have many friends and family here.
First job: I worked for a logistics company specializing in domestic transportation for the auto industry. I then worked with family in jewelry.
Then? I met a Belgian guy who introduced me to Belgian beer, which I really liked. He was initially importing this type of beer just for himself, but we saw its potential for a wider audience and set up a company called ‘Knock on Wood’. We imported and distributed Belgian Beer to restaurant, bars, hotels and others in Thailand.
Hard work? I was there every day, talking to customers and telling them all about the beers we sold. It was important to educate people about Belgian beer so we could build the industry and sell more beer.
Apart from the beers, what else made it popular? We had a great location and we launched our beer garden that had more variety of beers available, a classier ambiance and more trendy than those set up by the local brewers in town. It also benefited from being in an upscale part of Bangkok. And it attracted all the local celebs!
HOBS was then taken over by a local company who was also importing Belgian Beer and then I went and set up BREW - Beers & Ciders in Thonglor 13 in Seen Space right beside Ashley Sutton’s ‘Clouds’ bar where we worked together to promote the new space.
Our bar focused on beers from around the world, starting off with 140 brands and ending up with over 500 different labels. It was a great time – we created a new vibe in Bangkok and were packed every night. It became one of the most popular beer bars in Asia and was responsible for opening up the market and industry.
So why did you close? We had a significant increase in rent after 7 years, so we closed in 2017 but by that time we had already opened another beer bar under the name of ‘TBC – The Beer Cap’ at The Commons on Thonglor Soi 17. We still have a BREW – Beers & Ciders on Sukhumvit Soi 11 as well.
What’s your best selling beer? Limburgse Witte, a traditional Belgian wheat beer, Estrella Damm, BrewDog Punk IPA and Deschutes Fresh Squeeze IPA.
Who are your customers? Mostly Thais, but also expats. Tourists are a bonus.
Do you ever get difficult customers – if so, how do you deal with them? Our local customers are amazing. If we do have any issues, it’s usually with tourists who can’t understand why beer in Thailand is more expensive than where they are from.
Do you have any other business interests? I have a few other business interests. One of the latest projects is Saphan 55 Street Food Shelter which we are still working on at the bottom of Thonglor. If you’re looking for great eats at affordable even cheap prices, this is where you should go. Also have my hand in quite a few F & B businesses around town.
What’s your favorite weekend destination? Thailand is full of wonderful places all over that need to be explored. If I’m not at the lake, wake-skating. Phuket is another place you could find me on the weekend visiting family and hitting the beaches. Surf’s up.
Most interesting person you’ve ever met? I meet many interesting people here in Thailand. Everyone just seems to come through this city.
Your greatest extravagance? Probably, souping up cars and traveling to do some of my hobbies.
What talents would you like to have? I wish I could play more instruments and speak more languages.
Any hobbies? Go karting, cars, snowboarding, wake skating, diving, travelling. There’s too many!
Favorite Bangkok restaurants and bars: Masala Art, an Indian restaurant in Thonglor 8, and Kow Tom Jiep in Pattanakarn Road. There are so many great restaurants and bars popping up all the time. We are so spoilt in Thailand.
High and low points in your life? It’s really nice when people introduce me or credit me with being the person responsible for the beer industry we have today in Thailand. Simple words can make all the work worthwhile sometimes.
Without the lows we would never appreciate the highs. I am also grateful for the lows and more grateful to all of those in my circle who have helped me through them.
Any regrets? I try not to look at things with regret. Sometimes you make decisions that you had to at the time. It may have not been the most ideal after looking back but it’s the decision I made. It’s how we move forward that’s important so I try not to regret anything and treat and bad decisions as learning.
What’s next? I’m full of energy and have loads of great ideas. I love creating new concepts, spaces and brands. I’m sure there is a lot more to come.