‘THE BEST KEEP SECRET IN NHA TRANG’
You probably know the Rooftop Lounge for its famous Ladies Night, its unique, eclectic music and hand crafted cocktails. We took a lazy afternoon to sit down with the owner, Nicolas, to decode the secrets of this expat run haunt that seems to keep growing in popularity.
Perched on the 5th floor atop The Ha Van Hotel (3/2 Tran Quang Khai) since 2007, The Rooftop Bar & Lounge was the pioneer of what has become a growing trend towards rooftop bars in the city, and, despite this increase in competition, it is still the favorite amongst the expat and local Vietnamese community.
Why ‘The best keep secret in Nha Trang’ ?
Originally, Nicolas shunned traditional marketing rules and allowed people to find the bar through word of mouth. As guests stayed in the hotel below, they would tell others about their great experience at the bar, while the expats knew it as a place to get away from the tourist traps and enjoy a cool night out, hidden away from status quo bars all doing the same thing.
Nicolas explains that the basic philosophy was the “Three Nothings Rule”– See Nothing, Hear Nothing and Say Nothing”. While it may seem a strange and eccentric idea to promote your business by actively not promoting it, this method paid off very effectively, and the bar gradually grew in stature and infamy. Like all secrets, they can be very hard to keep, and nowadays, Nico has relaxed his previous marketing code since the secret has gotten out!
“ I could use the obvious marketing techniques and hire 6, long legged, busty girls who go around attracting customers like some of the other places, but I don’t like this method of promotion. We’re not desperate for people to come to Rooftop, we want people to WANT to come and visit us, and that’s not achieved by cheap and obvious marketing tactics”, he muses.
Head and shoulders above its neighbors for over 10 years, the same story crops up each week when someone visits the bar for the first time and wonders why they never knew of this cool little location hidden in plain sight.
In between posting photos on Instagram of the previous night’s festivities, and dealing with suppliers, Nic was kind enough to give the DNT team a quick interview about The Rooftop.
- DNT: “We understand that foreigners come to Nha Trang from many different countries all over the world, so how do you make it a ‘Common Home’ for them all?”
- Nicolas: “Well, I come from Canada. My country is a place where no one will be surprised because of your nationality. It is a wonderful multi-cultural country where we have learned to treasure and respect all differences. So, here in my bar, we never have any prejudice towards any customer, no matter where they are from, what color their skin is or what languages they use.”
Nicolas also pays great attention to the music at Rooftop so that the bar becomes a place for great conversation rather than a loud, “club-like” atmosphere that’s found in abudance across the city.
- DNT: “What do you mean ‘non-commercial’ music?”
- Nicolas: “I don’t care for any of the modern pop and chart music, or mindless dance tunes. Here, the music should be in the background, and we have an awesome collection that spans decades of varied genres including chill out, jazz, rythym & blues, classic rock – even classical music. We do have DJ’s on the weekends, because we also enjoy a good party too, but there’s a time and place for everything here, and I think people enjoy the variety that we provide. There’s no use pidgeon-holeing yourself into a music style, so we mix it up as much as possible.
- DNT: “What else makes this place special?”
- We put a lot of effort in the décor at Rooftop so that it has become a real cozy and trendy place to have a drink. We spend a lot of time coming up with unique and interesting design ideas for the place, and rather than going out and buying something ‘ready-made’, we build everything ourselves using local materials and inspirations that we find around the city. It’s important to have some character in your bar, and make it an image of your own style and ideas, so the deor and design style reflects that, I think”. Our customers seem to love it, and it keeps us busy to come up with new ways to improve the experience. We’re also constantly making new cocktail ideas, as we get bored making the same drinks over and over, and our bartenders like to challenge themselves to create new stuff for our clients. I recently added a craft beer from The Pasteur Brewery, and that’s been very well received, so I may bring in some new beers as well.
- DNT: “What else have you got planned for the bar?”
- Nicolas: We’ve just built a new kitchen and are launching it now. The menu is quite limited as I don’t see the point in offering 100 items to choose from. We have some amazing chefs, so we’ve put out some great Bistro food that’s been given the thumbs up from our clients. We recently hosted a ‘Mussels & Fries Night’ that was hugely succcessful (Read the article HERE), so we’re planning on doing lots more ‘food’ themed nights here.