Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Maybe Later

We have, as they say, a “going concern.”  Our new bar in Sihanoukville made more money in the first week than I had frankly expected to make in our first month.  We have regulars.  A lot of them.  And I have no shame in saying that we have the best goddamn tacos in SE Asia.

Incredibly, the hardest part of the process was deciding on a name:  Toast, Taco Helmet, Bad Panda, Dr. Kong’s Street Pharmacy, Short Bus, Peeping Gecko, Tequila Mockingbird, Just The Tip, Nacho Mama, Halfway Inn, Night Bus to Lima, The Allied Taco Command, The Accomplice, Chubby Puppy, Shady Alibi, Llama Mama, Brad Pitt’s Cockbar (way too much to drink that night…),Taco Calrissian, and Serious Business Inc. all had moments of potential during 5 painstaking days of negotiations.  Finally, one night deep into our 4th bucket of Mekong Whiskey (Do NOT drink the Mekong Whiskey.  Ever.), I wondered, “Why did we not more strongly consider ‘Maybe Later’ as an option?”  Done.

Maybe Later — Eat. Drink. Unwind.  Everything else can wait.

After signing a multi-year lease on Christmas Day, we began construction 3 days later on what was a brand new and completely empty space.  In the first days, there were several jaded and crusty old-timers who made sure to stop by and let us know that we would never be open in time for high season, that our Khmer help would be lazy, sloppy, and larcenous, and that we were sure to lose everything.  And to their horror and amazement, we built out the entire space in 15 days, took two days to stock the bar and set up the kitchen and were open for business on January 14.  We opened at 5 pm.  We took 8 dinner orders at 5:01.

The expat community here has been such a blessing to us.  We have so many friends in town already and they have all stopped by in our first days to wish us well…and to eat a taco, of course.  There are restaurants all around us, but it was clear from Day 1 that they all wish us to grow together, not to compete.  I have delivered food orders up and down the block.  The dishes always come back clean.  Last night I delivered two burritos up the street to another bar and was rewarded with tequila shot for my troubles.  I may never leave…

Our biggest fans are the squad of US Navy Seabees who are stationed here in Snouky.  They are on a 9 month rotation doing strictly humanitarian work – digging fresh water wells, rebuilding homes, helping out at local orphanages.  They are proud to serve and we are absolutely proud to have them here.  They also can eat one hell of a lot of tacos…

Our landlord is the kindest – and probably the smartest – Khmer I have met.  She believes in us.  And she recognizes that if we succeed, then she succeeds.

I have two young Khmer girls working for me in the kitchen and I absolutely adore them both.  Jhah is 17.  She leaves us to go to English class for an hour each evening and she is so eager to learn from us.  Part of our contract with her is that one of us drives her home each night so she is safe, which we do gladly.  She is an absolute star.  Aven is 22 and a bit “distracted,” but with each day she is more motivated and outgoing.  She is adorable and certainly draws the boys in to see her, which is not a bad thing.  Aven had worked for us for 8 days before she realized that the name of our bar was actually “Maybe Later.”  She thought that we just hadn’t decided yet…

The night before we opened, I had to do a Google Image Search to show them both what the hell a taco was.  By the third night, I was directing traffic while they assembled and plated every single dish that came out of the kitchen.  I nearly cried.  Seriously.

I do not have children of my own, but all of a sudden, without intent, I have these two amazing girls that I care for as if they were mine.  This was not part of the script.  And may turn out to be the most rewarding part of the entire experience.

 

Oh…also, I own a Serious Business 50 meters from the finest beach in Cambodia.  I get paid to make tacos and act ridiculous.  This is ridiculous.  And it’s really happening.

9 Responses to “Maybe Later”

  1. Rick Tousley says:

    Wow! Great post, my friend.
    Who is making the “Maybe Later” bracelets?
    That has always been a saying in our family. We got it from Jack when he was little. His mom would ask for a kiss and he’d say, “Maybe later!”

    Side business? Bracelets, t-shirts, paraphernalia sold here promoting a far away paradise where we can all occasionally escape to, if only in our minds:)

    Miss you,
    rick

    • Trust me, we have a sweatshop of Khmer girls working round the clock on Maybe Later merchandising materials. (Don’t worry…they get delicious queso dillas every two hours and we give them all the tequila they can stomach.) No, seriously, we will have an online store up SOON where you can buy shirts. We already have fans from across the globe screaming for our stuff. Maybe Soon…

  2. Robin and Brent says:

    This is seriously amazing Casey!!!! Love the post (too bad you have such a lame friend who doesn’t help promote your writing) The pictures have been fun to see as you’ve progressed and to hear that you are doing well from the get go is the best news ever. Could you post a mailing address? Seeing the overhead black and white sign made us immediately think of making a silk screen t-shirt for you. See you soon or Maybe Later

    • Will has a PO Box, but there are not physical addresses in Cambodia…for our bar, for our house, anything. Maybe later… You can post to:

      William Determan
      PO Box 9606
      Post Code 18000
      Sihanouk Province
      Cambodia

      We are working furiously on merchandising schemes, but also trying to open and operate our business. And trying to have a little fun in the process…bear with us 🙂

      Come soon!! You won’t regret it. I promise.

  3. Gareth says:

    Hey man, this is great stuff. So, so happy things are coming together!

    Peace,

    ~G

  4. Wayne says:

    I must have a wrist band. I’m suffering from arthritis from too much frisbee golf in Boise. I must have a wrist band. The Livestrong band just doesn’t work.

    Way to go Casey. Keep crankin’ them out!

  5. Joel S says:

    Hey man, great post! I’m really glad to see that everything is working out for you! I’m quite envious actually, as I have to go back to reality in a couple of weeks.. Take care and say hello to everyone!

  6. Branwen and Jason says:

    Oh man, this is so amazing. Who’da thunk Cambodia is where your stars line up?! It sounds delightful and charming and we are really happy for you. Though I feel the need to tell you Jason is quite upset at the thought of not seeing you for another 3 years. He’s over there, stewing in the other room about it right now. But all the same we’re quite happy life is working out for you!! And it’s working out for us too!! Lots to catch you up on and it’s all super awesome!!!

    2012 is a good year…and beyond!

    Much love,
    The Hunolts

  7. Wayne says:

    Take off that silly Canuks jersey. Don’t you know the Blues are in the playoffs for the first time in years?!!! Go BLUEZZZZZ!!!!!!

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