The Alchemist Bar is a popular restaurant and nightclub situated in the leafy suburbs of Westlands Nairobi. The premises, which was officially opened on 31st December 2015, has been on the spot on accusations of racial segregation targeting Kenyans.
In this article, WoK brings you the story of tycoon Peng Chen and ex-citizen news anchor Michelle Morgan – the couple who own the Alchemist Bar and Restaurant.
The Alchemist Bar
The Alchemist Bar is situated along Parklands Road, behind Kwikfit building in Westlands, Nairobi. It is a creative event space for entrepreneurs with interests in art, food, fashion, drinks and music. The premises has different facilities including a bar, open air cinema, lounge, chill out space, outdoor dining, nightclub, creative hub and fashion space. The famous Mama Rock Gourmet Burger food truck and Made in Kenya store are also situated in the premises. The place provides a canvas on which the leading event organizers in Nairobi can display their creative visions by hosting open mic nights, open air cinema, fashion shows and yoga among many other activities.
The Alchemist Bar and Restaurant is owned by Asian Tycoon and Businessman Peng Chen together with his wife Michele Morgan. Peng Chen is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hustle Sasa Limited – a company that provides a platform for Kenyans to sell anything from tickets and classes, retail and digital products, to food, drinks and professional services. He attended La Jolla High School from 2002 to 2006 before proceeding to University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in 2010 with a Bachelors of Economics specializing in Finance and Fine arts.
He staretd his career at the Food Trust as a health corner store intern and later as an entrepreneurship research intern at Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center. He then joined Innosight as an associate where he worked from January 2012 to October 2012. He went on to establish Taka Taka solutions – a company that provides affordable and environmentally friendly waste management services to all income areas. He then got appointed as the Managing Director (MD) of Easy Taxi – the largest taxi booking app in the world, a position he held for one year. He then got appointed as the Chief Operations Officer of CarZar.co.za – an online marketplace for selling second hand vehicles in South Africa, a position he held for five months only. He then worked as an Executive Producer at The Yard TV Series before quitting the employment sector to pursue other interests.
Michele Morgan is the daughter of the late Bob Morgan who is the founder of Bob Morgan Services limited – famously known as BM Security. Bob was a senior assistant commissioner during the late President Daniel Arap Moi Regime. Michelle started off her career as a journalist working for Royal Media Services as a news anchor reading the 1pm and 9pm prime time news. She worked for Citizen TV for one year and seven months before moving to Ebru TV and later joined Mediamax limited owned K24 TV. She worked as a News Anchor for some time before quitting to join family owned BM Security as the Executive Director. She would then meet Peng Chen and the two started dating. On 31st December the duo launched the Alchemist Bar in Westlands with the aim of creating an amazing entertainment place. The two would later officially exchange vows on 14th May 2019 in a private beach wedding in Seychelles. They currently have one son together named Pack Chen.
The Alchemist Bar has recently been on the spot for racism allegations at their premises. This is after a video went viral over the weekend of whites and Indians in one queue while blacks in another as they made their way into the club. The club has since come out to issue an apology claiming that it does not condone racism.
“To anyone who has felt aggrieved, we sincerely apologize and look forward to sitting down together and addressing these issues head on. Since we opened our doors the Alchemist has always been a home to welcome creators, partners, musicians sand customers from all different backgrounds,” read a statement from the management of the premises.
However this is not the first time, according to an article published by the Standard media in 2016, the club was accused of using their security to deny non-Caucasian clients entry into their premises. The allegations were first posted on Facebook by one Wamathai who claimed that he and his friends were barred from accessing the facility.
“At around 11pm last Saturday, six of my friends and I headed to the Alchemist Bar in Westlands. However, the bouncers informed us that we could not get in without giving a solid reason why we were there. Ironically, all the white customers were being allowed in without any questioning,” Wamathai told the Standard.
Following the recent accusations that has caused an uproar among Kenyans, the club has since closed down its doors to allow the pending investigations by the Nairobi County government to take place.