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The Royal Anchor

It’s amazing that this place, long a stop for many a foreigner on a weekend binge, has escaped our pages. The Royal Anchor has been around for many years. It offers a clean, warm atmosphere full of the usual clutter that one might expect in a ship-themed bar. The staff is friendly and of the Korean owners and help, their English is quite good.

I recently went on Thanksgiving weekend to watch a foreigner band, Sir Reggae, play a few sets. When we arrived, we found a comfortable array of tables and high-backed chairs arranged in cozy circles and a string of tall bar stools along the bar. It had the resemblance of a cigar bar back home with their dim lighting and chairs that somewhat hid the occupants from prying eyes. With the big chairs and tables all taken, even at the early hour of 8:30pm, we settled in on a couple of bar stools and had a few drinks. We arrived during Happy Hour, which is a 1,000 discount on all drinks and extends until 9:30pm.

Perhaps it was the fact that they had a Thanksgiving Dinner earlier that spoiled my otherwise good first impression. Within a short time of our arrival, the occupants of the tables began to move on. We moved out of the bar stools and headed for the more comfy confines of a table. Before we could even consume a single drink, the bar announced that all the tables and chairs would be moved out to make room for the band, an announcement I didn’t understand since their was a seprate area, already set up for them to play.  We watched in amusement while patrons played a game of musical tables and chairs and the chairs were hauled out of the room. Drinks were moved and we heard numerous people look back only to exclaim, “which drink is mine?” The confusion caused by all the commotion, not to mention the spoiling of the earlier pleasant atmosphere we found upon entering put a downward spiral into my warm fuzzy thoughts of the Royal Anchor.

When the band finally took the stage, only the chairs against the far wall remained. A large, empty area in front of the band was open and available for standing. Since we occupied the few chairs available, we watched the youngsters dance – or at least gyrate – to the music from our spot on the edge of the room. There was still plenty of room for standing/gyrating but we both thought the chairs and tables were great and moving them out was totally unnecessary.   But, as I mentioned, perhaps they were only there for the Thanksgiving dinner. Had I walked into the place, barren of tables, my impression would have been far worse. Fortunately for the Royal Anchor, first impressions are hard to erase. They worked at it, though, and whittled me down.

After we’d watched the band play and the groupees shimmy, it was time for another drink. Happy Hour was well over and I expected to pay full fare – whoppping 1,000won more. I was sadly disappointed to be charged 2,000 over the previous price. I’m never one to argue price when I’m about to bodily consume goods, so I swallowed my misgivings and my drink and we made a hasty exit.

While I’m willing to admit that a hectic holiday evening may be the root cause, the end result is I didn’t get to keep the warm fuzzy I’d had when first arriving. My wife is much more sensitive than I. When it comes to treating customers with respect and keeping track of pricing, she’ll have a hard time coming back to a place that moved people around like cattle.  If I come back to Royal Anchor, it will likely be without her.

The Royal Anchor is located just half a block north of Shigae (Clock) Top in Shinae on the second floor. Check out the Shinae map.

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