Nanjing’s long-renowned centre for hedonism is seeking to shake off its questionable upbringing, with recent moves to encourage drinking and dining options that are more of the family-friendly variety. As such, staple of the expat community in Nanjing, Blue Sky Aussie Bar & Restaurant, yesterday evening held its reopening in Xuanwu District’s 1912, after it shutting up shop on Shanghai Lu, with 12 years under its belt along the once-coveted piece of real estate.
The People’s Liberation Army is, technically, not permitted to operate any kind of business. Many a blind eye was turned in the past and thus, a proliferation of enterprises sprung up on PLA-owned property. Perhaps the most celebrated of such, the strip along Shanghai Lu, became the Nanjing go-to for the last decade of nightlife, until this year that has seen door after door forever bolted.
While speculation as to the reasons why the Chinese army has been refocused on being an army remains just that, the challenges posed to the affected businesses in relocating have been immense.
For Blue Sky, it has been a long three months with no revenue, making yesterday’s reopening a relief as much as it was a celebration of a new start in a new spot. With the former nightclub opposite the new venue on Changjiang Hou Jie now all but a shell, co-owner, Seressa Shui, explained the motivations to The Nanjinger.
“Before this was a night club street. So now they  want to change. That’s why they want us come here. Change the environment, change to a good quality of people and lifestyle.”
Yet eatery, watering hole and a business do not a legend make. Beyond the bricks and burgers, Blue Sky has shown a remarkable ability for affecting social change. The establishment itself and co-owner Laurence Harris were instrumental in the establishing of the Nanjing Chapter of Rotary international, the Nanjing International Golf Society and an animal rescue group, to name but three examples.
Shuai’s husband Harris told The Nanjinger, “Blue Sky isn’t just a business. It’s something more than that. It creates things outside Blue Sky.”
“I had a birthday celebration a couple of years ago in Blue Sky (I’ve had many of those). At one point I stood back and I looked around the room, and as near as I could figure out, in this big crowd, everyone was talking to someone from another country. If we could make the United Nations work like Blue Sky, we’d have a great world”.
Echoing the sentiment, Shuai summed up the secret for Blue Sky remaining in business from 2002 until now in one word; “Love”.