The Hungry Duck
The Hungry Duck was a legendary Moscow bar of the 1990s. At the peak of its popularity, "the Duck", as it was known, was an icon of Moscow hedonism, an unbridled, sexual, and sometimes violent venue. The Duck's "Ladies Night" was exceptionally popular, bringing in as many as 920 women in a single night. The patrons of the Duck were uninhibited, free to dance upon the bar and remove their clothing. The Duck was founded and owned by Canadian Doug Steele, and "business partners" from the Republic of Kalmykia.
Doug remarked on how the Duck's environment came to be: "A lot of the things that became Hungry Duck trademarks started out as simple adjustments to the small space the club gave people to dance in. The whole dancing-on-the-bartop thing began at a Pepsi Foods corporate party shortly after we opened. They'd been drinking and wanted to dance. That's what's so great about Russians: they're not as self-conscious and inhibited as Westerners. My philosophy was just to let them do what they want, see where it went, because it was clear that the customers knew exactly how to enjoy themselves if only given the chance. My only job was to market it. After word got out that customers not only got away with dancing on the furniture but were actually encouraged, others started doing it too. From there, it just snowballed." The Hungry Duck LLC, recently announced that the Hungry Duck Bar & Grill will reopen at a new location in Moscow on June 22, 2012. The original Hungry Duck was operated from 1995 to 1999 by owner/manager Douglas Steele (Halifax, Canada) and was one of the most famous and popular bars in Moscow. Rolling Stone magazine at the time called it, "One of the hottest bars in the world".
Mr. Steele, with his business partner Daniel Jordan (Boston, USA), has recently teamed-up with bar, restaurant and entertainment company, Highland Group LLC (Moscow, Russia) to reopen the Hungry Duck. The original Hungry Duck was famous for its wild and creative theme parties, bar-top dancing, originating the Monday night "Countdown" and its infamous, Ladies Night, each Tuesday. Guests were welcomed and encouraged to leave behind their inhibitions and just have fun, hence the official slogan for the Hungry Duck, "GO NUTS".
The new venue for the Hungry Duck is located in the former city mansion of renowned Russian actor and director, Konstantin Stanislavsky, on Moscow's Garden Ring, near the metro station Krasnye Vorota. The bar is more than 1500 square meters over three floors, which is three times larger than the original venue. The famous oval bar has returned, however even larger and like the original, it is specially designed for bar-top dancing. A dedicated sports bar venue is offered on the third floor and a full-service American restaurant will work daily from noon. In partnership with LG, the venue will boast more than 40 large screen 3D televisions and a big screen 3D projector with full satellite coverage of Russian, European and North American sporting events. The Hungry Duck LLC will offer a license program, allowing licensees to open their own venues in other locations around the Russian Federation and CIS.
Douglas (Doug) Steele, the founder of the original Hungry Duck, says, “I look forward to finally reopening the Duck. It has been a work in progress for the last 12 years. The new Duck has more dimensions, with a North American style restaurant, a dedicated sports bar and Sunday brunches with entertainment for children. However, at its heart, it's still inspired by the original and we expect plenty of fun!"
The "new" Hungry Duck closed in January 2013 less than six months after it opened. Moscow has evolved. Pretty young girls are no longer interested in dancing on the bar when they go out clubbing. The atmosphere that created the original Hungry Duck was a rare combination of time and opportunity and just can never be duplicated. Thanks for the memories!
- "The End of an Era" A retrospective by Doug Steele
- "Duck-ed for Life" by Johnny Chen, a Duck enthusiast
- A Midsummer Night's Bacchanal in Moscow (Salon.com)
- The Hungry Duck official website