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Bromme Hampton Cole, City Weekend's New Owner

Dec 8, 2017

This week on "Shanghai Famous," we've got Bromme Hamtpon Cole. Author, entrepreneur, senior care expert, screenwriter, and newly minted owner magazine-across-the way of City Weekend and their associated brands — the soul patch everyone's talking about. He's made a bit of a splash in Shanghai's expat world almost overnight, with zany ideas, talkin' expat media revolution. But what's he really like? We asked him to tell us. That's what you're reading now.

***

I am Bromme! I am a 56-year-old businessman by day, 26-year-old artist and writer by night. Recently, I became the owner of City Weekend, ShanghaiExpat, Shanghai Family and Parents & Kids. I've lived in Shanghai for 8 years and 2 in Beijing. It was a sense of adventure that brought me here in the first place, as well as an indefatigable interest in senior health care, but I've always held a deep love and respect for China.

Shanghai"

I live along the Xiangyang Lu corridor. It's a great area, full of an exciting mix of locals and expats. Xuhui is my favorite part of the city, I love it for its history, the lives I can imagine that lived in that house or down that alley. Old Shanghai meets the Occident, again and again and again. These two peoples remain separate, but also connected by virtue of their proximity in a way that is frictionless. It’s exciting, impulsive and spontaneous. There is nothing bad about the area except for maybe the occasional plumbing issue! But that isn’t so bad in the end. Shanghai is without a doubt the most exciting city in the world.

I love to walk in the city's older quarters as dawn breaks and Shanghai awakens. It's a very introspective thing to do. It gives me an insight into the locals. I feel privileged to live here and in different ways, I feel a real kinship with the Chinese people. I have an especially deep compassion for the Chinese elderly. They have witnessed and participated in a very tumultuous century, and now, as the 21st century dawns and their lives come to a close, they live in a country that bears little resemblance to the one in which they grew up. They have lived lives full of transformation and survived and even thrived. That says a lot. I respect that fact.

Shanghai"

It's the city's extraordinary history combined with the modern vibe that appeals to me, the way Shanghai leans fearlessly into the future but has a long tail. Almost as long as the drive to PVG. Probably my least favorite aspect, but even then it's exciting to see how much Pudong has developed since I first moved to the city.

Many places have come and gone in that time, but there are a few I keep coming back to. When I want to go dancing I like Myst and Fusion. For drinks and dance, I go to Unico. When I'm looking for fancy food, I go to Robuchon and Da Ivo. If I'm craving a steak, always Shanghai Slim's and Morton's. I love wine, too, so a place like Pudao Wine in Ferguson Lane is awesome, as well as Bin 74 on Fuxing. Anything red works there!

Robuchon
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

For now I'm embarking on a new journey. The media assets I've recently purchased attracted me for a number of reasons: First, City Weekend and its sister platforms are excellent, well-conceived and firmly established. Ringier did an outstanding job with their development and was a good shepherd for them during their tenure. With that said, markets are never static and there is an undeniable transformation underway that requires a new approach.

Although I am not an expert in media, I do have a keen eye for realignment and opportunity. I firmly believe I can enable and empower the people I have hired to effect the change required to reestablish these assets as preeminent. We will adapt and reposition the brands to the realities of Shanghai’s consumer. And this means a more inclusive publication, integrating the local and expat population within a media that promotes a multicultural lifestyle. I want to make what these assets offer best--lifestyle, events, F&B--more exciting, more accessible, more impulsive and of course, more profitable. Second, I am a writer at heart and after 3 books and with a screenplay in progress, I have begun to identify, personally and professionally, with the media industry. For me, this project is an exciting way for me to participate in something I love.

Shanghai"

I am a Freemason, but I never intended for my involvement with Masonry to become such a focus here. I fully understand it, though. Masonry is simple at its core. It exists so that good men can strive to become better men, better gentlemen, and dedicate themselves to enriching the lives of those less fortunate. No secret here and no mystery with this mission. It is not a religion, it's not a cult and it's not associated with politics. Masonry has brought me a better way to communicate and understand others in a sincere, mindful way.

Hollywood and the media has kidnapped the idea of Masonry and made it sensational and cult-like. It's unfortunate, but I understand it. Ancient rites in the context of a brotherhood along with many famous past members can produce whispers of mystery and therefore often attracts the worst assumptions. In some way it is amusing and maybe a bit ironic to think that, with a Hollywood screenplay in the works and my purchase of City Weekend, I am now a Mason in an industry that finds Masons so mysterious!

Shanghai"

If immortality were in the cards for me (not even the Freemasons can guarantee that!), I would live in Shanghai forever. But I have well-founded doubts that's going to happen, nevertheless I love this city, and the people in it.

***

TELL EVERYONE

VENUES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:

  • Da Ivo

    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • Address
      23/F, 1 Jingling Dong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu
      金陵东路1号23楼, 近中山东二路
    • Phone
      5717 1757

    Italian fine dining inspired by a legendary restaurant of the same name in Venice (but no affiliation). The kitchen in the Shanghai incarnation is helmed by Giorgina Mazzero, a veteran of Da Ivo in Venice. Read more

  • L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • Address
      18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu
      中山东一路18号外滩十八号, 近南京东路
    • Phone
      6071 8888

    L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the latest link in French chef Joel Robuchon's fine dining chain. The restaurant, by the self-appointed "Chef of the Century" and holder of the most Michelin stars (if one cares about that kind of thing), is faithful to Robuchon's... Read more

  • Pudao Wines

    • Address
      Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Lu, near Tai'an Lu
      武康路376号, 近泰安路
    • Phone
      6090 7075

    Read more

  • Bin 74

    • Address
      74 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu
      复兴西路74号, 近永福路
    • Phone
      6431 0258

    Bin74 is a tiny wine shop/wine lounge with a limited menu of Spanish and Italian snack-ish things. Add a 74rmb fee to drink a newly purchased bottle in the store. Read more

  • Shanghai Slim's

    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • Address
      Sinan Mansions, Block 26D, 523 Fuxing Lu, near Sinan Lu
      思南公馆, 复兴西路523号26D, 近思南路
    • Phone
      6426 0171

    An up-market steak and seafood restaurant from the people behind New York Style Pizza and New York Style Steak & Burger at the Sinan Mansions. The menu specializes in imported Boston lobster prepared in several different ways as well as USDA Prime Angus rib-eye... Read more

  • Morton's (IAPM)

    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • Address
      IAPM 4/F, 999 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Shanxi Nan Lu
      淮海中路999号4楼, 近陕西南路
    • Phone
      6067 7888

    This is the second Shanghai branch of the renowned high-end steakhouse chain from The States. In addition to premium steaks and chops, however, this Morton's serves a wide variety of seafood, like imported lobster, crabs and oysters as well as salmon, tuna and the... Read more

  • This venue has now closed

    Unico

    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • Address
      Three on the Bund, 2/F, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu
      中山东一路3号外滩三号2楼, 近广东路
    • Phone
      5308 5399

    Popular Bund lounge. They get busy at night, with live latin music parties, salsa nights, ladies nights, and weekday events like their Tuesday salsa party. It's a good, casual-but-impressive destination for friends and guests. The quiet window seats in the back are... Read more

  • Fusion (Nightclub)

    • Address
      5/F, Bldg 6, South Block, 123 Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu
      兴业路123号6号楼5楼, 近马当路
    • Phone
      5386 8088

    Big, flashy local nightclub that replaced G+ in Xintiandi. It's run by Sino Group, who have several other venues in town like MYST, The 7th Floor, S2, and many more. If you've been to those clubs, this is similar but with a slightly more futuristic vibe. Expect... Read more

  • Relocated to MYST

    MYST (Yan'An Zhong Lu)

    • Address
      1123 Yan'an Zhong Lu, near Fumin Lu
      延安中路1123号, 近富民路
    • Phone
      6437 9999

    "Moving You Stunning Trip", a.k.a. MYST, is a busy, three-story club that's impossible to miss thanks to its brightly lit exterior. The bottom floor has a more loungey feel, the top is for VIPs, while the middle is where most clubbers end up. As expected of a local... Read more

[Shanghai Famous]:

Shanghai Famous is a SmartShanghai column focusing on people out there in the city makin' the scene. They're out there around town, shaping Shanghai into what it is, creating the art, culture, and life around us. We asked them what's good in Shanghai. We asked them what's bad in Shanghai. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves.

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