For those who don’t know, Bourbon Street is a popular street in the very popular French quarter of New Orleans, the spot where Doug Harrison the owner of Bangkok’s Bourbon Street Restaurant & Oyster Bar was born and raised. He left New Orleans in 1982 for a work in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with an oil-field construction engineering firm where he worked as an offshore marine pipeline welder. Then he headed to the North Sea and southern Spain the following year, followed by three years based out of Dubai.

Doug had started coming to Bangkok on holiday while based in Indonesia in 1982, and kept coming back. After leaving Dubai, he decided to hang out in Bangkok for a couple months, when in September of 1986, he bought a bar at the back of Washington Square, off of Sukhumvit Soi 22, as he says, “to cut down on my expenses and keep me out of other people’s bars”. Bourbon Street made sense as a name for the bar and he quickly expanded it into a restaurant, got a long-term lease and turned it into a hotel as well.   

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Over the years, Bourbon Street has had a few other outlets; Doug bought, built, operated, rented out and then sold properties on Sukhumvit Soi 49, and Soi Tonson. He still has a food court at Bumrungrad Hospital (10th floor of the outpatient building). But after 25 years, the owners of the Washington Square property wouldn’t renew Bourbon Street’s lease, so Doug went looking for a new property and his wife found the new premises on Soi Ekamai, while dropping off the couple’s three boys at school one day.
 
He renovated the 27-year-old building, knocking down all the walls and reinforcing the building with steel I-beams, turning it into a 160-seat restaurant spread over 3 floors, with an 18-room boutique hotel with prices range from Bt1,200-1,500, including breakfast. Even though Doug sold almost everything he had, including a few rental properties and a boutique hotel he was building, to secure the new premises he describes the move as “better than a blessing in disguise, it was the best thing that ever happened to us.” The “new” Bourbon Street opened its doors on 16 Jan 2012, while the old one officially had its last call on 18 Jan 2012. All of Doug’s staff, everyone, made the move with him.

Doug has done a lot of philanthropic work over the years, but the two organizations he has primarily focused on are Operation Smile and Father Joe Maier’s Human Development Centre, organizing an annual golf tournament for the latter called the Father Joe Maier Human Development Foundation Charity Golf Classic (always held the second Friday in March, this year it’s March 9th) at the Royal Golf & Country Club in Lat Krabang. For the former, a charity that does great work fixing cleft palates, Doug helped sponsor Operation Smile’s 2nd Fight Night at the Dusit Thani recently.

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The TCCC just held a networking night in Bourbon Street’s 7th floor indoor/outdoor rooftop party room; the multipurpose room, with full bar service, is ideal for breakfast meetings, luncheons, private parties - there’s a 110-inch TV screen, which you can plug into and do power-point presentations.

With the new location, Bourbon Street has gone from back street to “Main Street”, but Doug refuses to go with white tablecloths. He wants a “casually elegant” establishment. Bourbon Street is reasonably priced because as Doug says, “I like volume not once-a-year anniversary guests.”

The specialty of the house is its famous Louisiana “Cajun/Creole” dishes such as Boiled “Live” Crawfish, Blackened Redfish, Jambalaya, Gumbo, Blackened Crab Cakes and many more “New Orleans” favourites. There’s also fresh oysters from three different countries.
    
Other menu favourites include Bar-B-Q Baby Back Ribs and Chicken, Char Grilled Steaks and great entrees such as Chicken Fried Steak, Beef Brisket and Fried Chicken.
Every Tuesday night is “Mexican Night” featuring an “All You Can Eat” buffet including such items as Beef & Chicken Tacos, Beef & Chicken Enchiladas, Frajitas, Burritos, Refried Beans, Mexican Fried Rice and Chili. Pizza and Thai food are also available.

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Bourbon Street has received many accolades over the years, including a plug from Newsweek as one of the best bars in the world. It’s also had its share of famous guests including Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and dignitaries from many countries.      

For Doug, what makes his job so interesting is that he gets to meet people of different occupations and all walks of life from all the world every day and he has a passion for serving good people, satisfying his customers and having them return.

Hours: 7am-1am daily

http://www.bourbonstbkk.com

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