Friday, July 17, 2009

Online Pub – 20 Years On And Still Going Strong

Online recently celebrated 20 years in the business and is the happy hunting ground of a loyal clientele who fancy its timeless atmosphere and the merry company of their fellow tipplers. Live music from Gerard Jairus and friends presented regulars with a celebration of the old, the new and the enduring, which a jam-packed pub danced and sang along to.

But what exactly makes Online so special? Frigglive spoke with Raymond to get the story.

Raymond takes us back to 1989, when we all used to frequent a joint called Streets Connection hidden away in a corner of Damansara’s Setiabistari area. It was owned and operated by Bala the popular pub circuit singer.

Yes, Raymond, I remember drinking at Streets two decades ago with the late Kasim Cha Tong. Back then it was just sitting with a beer in hand and vocalising to a bunch of slightly inebriated gents and ladies who clamoured for sing-alongs and timeless pop songs from Bala.

The guitar, like the occasional bottle of Tequila would make its rounds to any patron who momentarily fancied being a pub artiste. In an informal way we kept the music alive while the others prodded us on with light banter and off-colour jokes.

Raymond and three of his brothers – Lawrence, Xavier and Colin (there are six of them in total) joined forces with Bala to open a new pub called Online, which did very well indeed. In 1994 Bala left to pursue his singing career with an overseas sojourn.

As the place had been heavily dependent on Bala as the driving force, Raymond and his brothers were forced to build their own brand identity which they did by focusing on tapping the bar crowd, engaging good live bands and serving great food. It was an asset that Lawrence and Xavier were good cooks indeed.

Online quickly developed a solid following as much as for their Hokkien Mee, Pork Vindaloo, Mutton Varuval, Devil on Demon’s Back Curry and Pigs in Blanket as well as for their fresh and fairly priced Tiger Beer Draught and Guinness Stout. Only in Online will you find the priceless sight of Chinese customers paying an Indian boy to fry their Hokkien Mee!

The boys insist on the proper storage and rotation of their stock, taking the time to pull a half pint of Guinness and letting it settle before pulling the rest to achieve a perfect pint every time, sometimes to the chagrin of a thirsty and not too fussy customer.

The place is a roll call of the local pub circuit musicians and their loyal followers. There’s the ubiquitous darts board and pool table and whenever there is a sports match on TV (think EPL) you can bet your life the pub will turn into a nursery for men.

It is this attention to detail coupled with a friendly and service oriented attitude that sets the Online boys apart, and keeps the customers not only returning but bringing family and friends in tow. In fact we’re now serving the 2nd generation of patrons, the young adult sons and daughters of our regulars, grinned Raymond.

We have also inadvertently played matchmaker and seen couples meet here and get married, chipped in Colin. All in all the boys have had a blast manning their family owned and operated outlet, with the only dark cloud being their location on the border of the KL/PJ boundary, and the Government’s flip flop indecision on closing times being at 1am for PJ and 2am for KL.

Happy Hours at Online are all night long, with a Tiger Draught going for RM9.50 nett, A pint of perfectly poured Guinness complete with a clover leaf logo in the head foam for RM19.90 nett and RM23 nett for a silky smooth Kilkenny.

Thirsty anyone? You know where to find me. But only if you’re buying. Online is located at Jalan SS20/10. Damansara Kim 47400 Petaling Jaya.



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