Leena Salim chats with Mario Ebanks in between mouthfuls of 7th Joint’s Jerk Chicken and imbibing copious amounts of their very own concoction of whiskey and coconut juice.

TELL US ABOUT YOU.
I am an entrepreneur from Jamaica.

My background is in telecoms, an industry that I’ve been associated with for more than ten years.  7th Joint Bar & Grill is my first serious attempt in the Food and Beverage industry.

My personal mantra is that everything happens exactly when it’s supposed to – no coincidences. I am into music, traveling, hanging out with family and friends, and chatting to anyone who is up for a good conversation (especially if we are both thirsty).

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO YANGON
I came to Myanmar in January 2013 as a Project Manager for one of the Telecoms company.

WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF YOUR BAR AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT WORKS
It’s a reggae bar.  This concept is quite popular globally but has picked up significantly in this region. There are many reggae bars in Thailand and Malaysia and now the first in Myanmar. The atmosphere at our bar can be described as easy, chilled, relaxed, and some people say plain lazy. We think that this type of setting will appeal to tourist, hardworking expats seeking a place to unwind and nationals alike.

WHAT DOES 7TH JOINT MEAN
We didn’t choose the name, the name chose us, and we couldn’t get away from that name even if we tried.

The initial plan involved seven partners. In addition to that, one of our partners has Chinese roots and the number seven  or “qi ”¯for him symbolizes “togetherness”, which is exactly how we needed to be to get the bar up and running. Also, whenever we spoke to anyone about our plans in the setup stages, the typical response was that we are operating a business that is new to us in a foreign country and it’s a big gamble, hence lucky number 7 in the mix again. For “Joint”, let’s just say that “Joint” is a really popular word in Jamaica.

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WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN TERMS OF THE NIGHTLIFE IN YANGON
Over my 2 years here, I’ve seen a lot changes in the nightlife that I would describe as positive. There are numerous options that offer a wide variety where dining is concerned. As it relates to music and entertainment, the rate of change is slow but still positive, salsa and reggae is now available, the DJs at some of the more popular places have expanded their scope and are now selecting from a wider genre, and there is live music on selected nights at different venues, including ours.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL CHANGE IN 2015?
For Myanmar, I think we will continue to see more businesses opening in the F&B industry with some of the more popular food franchises entering the market. Also, there is definitely a chance that there will be more music festivals and concerts with performances from foreign groups or bands. I really hope to see a sharp increase in the number of people listening to reggae music and eating Jerk Chicken.

The 7th Joint Bar & Grill is the only Reggae bar in Myanmar. When in doubt about lyrics to any of the songs played there, it’s highly likely that Mario knows them.  Despite being so, they also play music from other genres.

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