Notes & Essays

Eulogy for a Watering Hole: San Juan Bar Moksha Was 'Home' to Many

The announcement was made by Marc Soong, one of its owners.
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Moksha, a watering hole in San Juan, has dimmed its lights for good, another victim of the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Its managing partner, Marc Soong, bid goodbye to the 18-year-old neighborhood bar in a post on Facebook. By day, Soong is a director of luxury car dealerships, and dabbles in metacoaching. Here is his post:

"Twelve years ago, on February 11, 2008, I was in Medical City with my wife as she had just given birth to twins.

"It was late in the evening and she was surprised as she heard a soft knock on the door. It was Glenn, the owner of a bar called Moksha. He had a contract for me to sign:

"We just bought Moksha, I told the mother of my children with an awkward smile on my face.

"I had invited a few friends: Per (RIP), Jason my bro, Paul, Cesar, Danny, Jorell as managing partner, and ST to buy our neighborhood watering hole.

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"The rules were simple:

"We would buy the bar but when we were there, we would all be “regular customers.” No one would really pose as the owner. Funny I once proudly told someone this and bragged no one really knows who owns it. “Ummm... Marc your name is on the receipt,” he said.  

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"But I digress.

"If we earned, it would be good. If we didn’t, it’d be ok as well. We agreed we wouldn’t fight about the place.

"One person would manage, he would make the decisions and this would be his salary.

"Everything would be under my name to keep it simple - all owner agreements were based on a handshake.

"Every time we partners would come in, we would pay for our bill like everyone else, every time.

"The Flying Tiger would be kept forever as our signature drink. Must handle with care.

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"I then put in Bose sound systems in the front and the rear, I fixed the menu (ahem, I developed our kebabs, white sauce, hot sauce) and it just stayed the quiet hole-in-the-wall where “everybody knows your name.”

"People came to drink, eat, celebrate, hide, and just be at home.

"As a business we made our modest investment back in 18 months. We never lost money and earned a little extra every year.

"It was never about the money. It was having our own place. Hasn’t everyone dreamt of owning their neighborhood watering hole?

"It was about giving people employment. It was a hideaway, a refuge. We gave people a secret hideout in this small watering hole that you could pass by every day and not know it existed. It was a place where there would be a couple out on a date dressed well and you had 10 guys in athletic gear show up and sit next to them to have a beer and no one cared.

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"It was home to many.

"As we close after 18 years of existence, we leave a legacy as probably one of the longest-running bars in recent memory.

"We never made a lot of money, but hey, we never lost money.

"Moksha has sustained itself from the start and we are very lucky to close with very minimal costs and are overall positive financially. Unfortunately our landlord, too, has their own financial realities to face as well and can’t reduce rent moving forward.

"With the current crisis that we don’t know how long will last and the maximum 30% capacity, without a long term break/ reduction in rent, it’s not feasible to keep the place open. And what has never needed to be supported suddenly may become a liability. With all of us struggling with our own realities, and the ones who are running it tired, we decided to call it a day.

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"Alas, all good things come to an end. The lights do have to go out at a certain point.

"Thanks to my partners, my brothers who stuck to our crazy gentleman’s agreement.

"Moksha now fades out into the memories of all the people whose lives it touched.

"Moksha is the end of the death and rebirth.

"Moksha is enlightenment, liberation, release.

"Moksha. 

 

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