I normally don’t get out there and say anything personal about myself, but for some reason, I did for this interview. Maybe I was high hanging out in some outdated flat on the 16 floor in Shanghai, maybe I didn’t care at the time. Maybe, I knew no one was going to read it!
There wasn’t enough drama in it. No love story, no free money, nothing. Plus the women behind the scenes of this blog are pure millennials. You know what I mean! After this, they constantly sent me messages stating
they would come to TROUBLE BAR if “FREE” drinks were offered…
They felt entitled to send me messages that they would come over with a bunch of “parting girls’ if I lined up shots and drinks for them for “FREE”. As a business minded, self-funded proprietor, I thought this would be a “fair trade one-time deal“, like the write-up. Not whenever the girls felt like coming over multiple times throughout the week for WTF reason. So, I eventually got pissed and told them to fuck right off for it’s not “FREE” to me. Of course in a world where socializing is more important than self-improvement, it’s needless to say these girls never stopped by to support my business ever! Not once! I don’t need anyone catching a ride off my coat tails like blogger of this sort do! My story is one of hundred that made them popular. Gave them material that they can’t create themselves. “lets blog about food!!” These cunts should have paid me for the story and
Beijing: Home to the FREE RIDING FOREIGNERS.
Foreigners, if you can’t truly afford to live in Beijing legally, just stop! Stop being bummy, stop bitching how the GOV sucks causes your living on a tourist VISA, and please stop trying to open up illegal business in the hutongs. Seriously! Have some respect for where you came from! That’s why the local Chinese truly dislike you. In that passive-aggressive take your money kind of way.
With that all being said, now don’t get me wrong; There are exceptions.
Here’s what they had to say. (unedited)
Name: Brick O’Neal
Job: Founder of TROUBLE BAR imports
Hi Brick! Can you tell us a bit about your background and what made you decide to move to Beijing?
Let’s rewind back to when I graduated from Sullivan University in Louisville Kentucky back in 2002 and went on to do an apprenticeship at 610 Magnolia (610 Magnolia St Louisville KY) under Chef Edward Lee for a couple of stern years while also being a full on nighttime manager at Ed’s Bread Bakery. Went on out to Colorado in 2004 to find my dream life at Daylight Donuts where Richard Snider, owner of DD, who took amazing care of me (great owner/operator, mentor, friend, brother) until some life changing events occurred (death of mom, broke both my humerus thanks to hitting a tree on 4 o’clock run in Keystone) in early 2007.
It’s time to talk about a career change when you don’t have any arms to work with. After about a 1.5 year of life searching while healing, and the collection of some beautiful scars, I simply decided to take a trip to discover Asia. That’s it. I always was drawn to eastern culture, and if I lost my life in America I might as well try to start one in Beijing.
I landed in Beijing back in 2008 and didn’t get too far on my journey. Got the crash course I paid for with the introduction of English teaching (not my cup of tea), bars, nightlife, woman, and the personal freedoms I’ve never experienced before all in Beijing. I’m a very goal minded individual in my own weird business directives, so within 10 months of my journey I decided to take the jump. Met my wife Cici Feng and within 30 days of pitching my idea about the future we were married. Within 30 days, we opened the doors to THE brick Shuangjing neighborhood bar.
My wife and I were extremely successful with the creation of THE brick, and within 1.5 months, we were able to sell it to the highest bidder, and spent a lovely 1 year honeymoon travel to 8 different countries which included boats, Harleys, beaches, SUVS, and every bit of knowledge I could smash within a year.
We came back to Beijing with fresh idea. We created a concept shop called THE drive-thru, where we basically did our own market research on 5 potential business ideas for Beijing and China. After 2 awesome years, we have moved on to opening TROUBLE BAR which now carries over 160 beers, 62 different styles from 17 different countries, and is also a full service bike shop with fixed gears supplied by NATOOKE. Some of our past ideas still continue today with our ecommerce of THEdrive-thru.com and private sales of our organic herbs & imported spice to bars, restaurants, and breweries. Importing, blah blah blah. I would also like to state that we are fully independent entrepreneurs. Neither outside money, nor investors have joined in on our 5 year journey, though there have been many talks and sometimes we feel like selling out to the major labels. We love the true spirit of mom & pop business.
What are the biggest differences between working in America and working in China?
Driving. That’s about it. I love not driving. I mean, I’ve got my 3wheel cart to roll around on, but I haven’t had to tank up the truck to get into town in the last 6 years, and I love that feeling. Who cares about the money spent, it’s just one less worry in life. As for living in Beijing compared to my American life, maybe I have to share more face, more PR time with customers, more networking. In the past I was always the back of the house line/prep guy, or work began at 9pm ending at 9am. Social activity is not my forte & a bit strange for me, but over all it feels the same for I’m productive on both sides of the world. I like staying busy and have been taught to stay busy.
How did you come up with the idea of beers and bikes for Trouble Bar?
Ha, that’s easy. It’s in my head. My hobby and habits combined with my ability to make it a career. Just always built, rode, died on bikes. Beers, hell I love drinking beer, who doesn’t? Grew up on PBR cans for there weren’t water bottles back in those days, and you weren’t about to walk across the field to fetch water from the igloo cooler on the truck. So having a career background of wine, backed by a culinary degree, I found it easy to transfer my emotions and thought to this wonder world of beers. You can feel and see so much diversity, independence in every bottle.
What advice would you give people about starting a business in China?
Best of luck! It’s not as easy as it may be perceived. Be diligent in all aspects of physical and mental labor. Knowledge prevails. It’s not just a face job. But maybe that’s the old school thinking that I hold.
What are a few of your favorite places in Beijing? (restaurants, drinks, visiting etc.)
I don’t get out much, but when I do I’m mostly on a liquid diet. I guess I do have a few favorites that are worth a shout out. THE brick, Jing A, Nbeers, BBC, Boxing Cat, Deans, & TAPS down in Shanghai. Though it’s really hard for me to leave TROUBLE BAR . Really the best bottled beer selection in China, and I love the maturity of import when it comes to craft beers.
Just want to give a big shout out to my wife Cici Feng Johnston. Without her, there would be no Brick. 5 years and counting. Prima, for there would be no world tour of beers without her. Beer buddies for life, and Banana for being a Banana. Continue your climb to success!