28 August 2008

Benjamin Shih sounds like KG's dream guy

On paper, at least.

By Matthew Cavnar
Photo: Matthew Nauser

Benjamin Shih, who owns the retro-cool Williamsburg bars Sweet Up’s and the Royal Oak, joined the National Guard in 2005. [Using the] Patriot Express business-loan program for military personnel, Benjamin "got a loan for $150,000.” The money helped Shih, 36, secure the lease on a space at Ludlow and Delancey, where next month he plans to open Hotel Chantelle, a two-floor restaurant he says will look like “what a tasteful Chinese businessman living in Paris would have built in the 1910s, but then aged to 1940.” Underneath, there’s a basement bar called, appropriately enough, SGT’S.

“People are always asking me, how can someone with graduate degrees and who is a liberal go into the service?” Shih says. “This is a question I never get in the Midwest or the South. My response is, you and I are on a social-contract credit card. So why in other parts of the country do we try to pay down that debt? For you, it’s something incomprehensible. For me, it’s something I was raised with.” Shih’s family arrived from Taipei in 1968. “It was the American Dream,” he says. Shih went on to get both a law degree and tattoos, and then worked for Lexis-Nexis. He wanted to be his own boss, and in 2002, he used his savings to open Sweet Up’s. But he always wanted to be in the military, too; he identifies with his fellow soldiers. “They’re often poor, they value education, obligation—the social contract,” he says. “I have a foot in both worlds.”

According to his platoon sergeant, Shih will likely be shipping out, probably to Afghanistan, next year.

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01 August 2008

C-dogg comes to town!

A very fit, muttonchopped, post-Primal Quest C-dogg was in NYC for work. He and his co-worker Z rocked the Big Apple with late nights, drinks and nibbles at The Rusty Knot, 230 Fifth, Corner Bistro, Cibar and Pete's Tavern. Having C in town was great fun, but after two post-2am worknights in a row, I'm in dire need of sleep.

I'm off to count sheep. G'night!