I couldn’t believe it either when I heard about JIS KL. A ‘social lounge’ where ladies eat and drink for free, and men pay for time that they spend there. A rather strange business model, and I figured the place might be a little dodgy – ala sleazy karaoke joints. I had to check out JIS KL for myself to find out.
I mean, how does a business survive to begin with, there would surely be tonnes of ladies heading there to abuse the system, but then again where there’s sugar, there’s ants.
So I finally manage to schedule a review of the place during the RMCO period, as JIS KL was able to resume operations as well. My task for the day was to first speak with the manager of the social lounge and then later try for myself, the entire experience.
Upon arrival at Star Boulevard, where JIS KL is located, I headed up and was glad the place looked elegant (and decent); my interview was to happen slightly before the lounge opened, so I could engage the manager before things picked up, and find out exactly how and why they operate in such a manner.
First I find out about the history of the social lounge and how it came to be. You may be wondering, what exactly does ‘JIS’ stand for? Well it’s ‘Jinseini Irodoriwo Soeru,’ which translates to ‘Adding Colour to Life.’
The JIS brand hails from Japan, and was started by a millionaire in his 30s (who doesn’t want to reveal himself.) Living in Tokyo, he felt a sense of loneliness and he just wanted people to get together and enjoy themselves. At first he would just invite guests over to his high-end apartment, as the crowd grew and people enjoyed being part of his parties, he decided to open the first JIS in Sapporo, Japan. Fast forward to now, JIS has opened seven other outlets, with JIS KL being the first one in Southeast Asia.
So apparently the business model seems to be working well. The manager of JIS KL explained to us that, the idea is that people will gather at the social lounge after work, to unwind and meet new people.
As part of the agreement from the brand owners in Japan, opening up the KL outlet had to follow certain set standards. Thus you will notice that the space in which any JIS is set up will always be at least 10,000 sqft and most definitely in a prime area, which explains JIS KL’s large space in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Apart from that, the lounge will also have to use the computer system which is used throughout all the JIS outlets.
I wrap up my interview as I notice the bar begin to open and two groups of ladies arrive at the venue. Now’s when I get to experience everything I’ve learnt over the course of my conversation with the manager, and find out how it all works.
Prior to entering, the front staff will ask each person on their preferences of people to be matched with. One can pick from criteria such as age group, language preference and such. Essentially when you go to JIS KL have to be open to meeting new people, and not want to only spend time with your party, or by yourself.
As the ladies settle in, I use the tablet placed at my seat to order myself a drink and something light to eat first. The system is easy to navigate and use, and your food and beverage arrive fast – another beauty of the Japanese system in place.
Then, once I’m done eating, I again use the tablet to match with either one of the groups of women, who had entered earlier. The attentive staff is then seen approaching one of them, and then came over to me and said that the first group was open to having me share their table with them.
I walked over and realised that they had started playing a game, which can be ordered via the tablet as well. The goal of the game was to not let a figurine drop, while whacking on the platform in which it is on. The loser, had to drink.
That worked as a good ice breaker and eventually conversation started flowing deeper.
The ladies were there for the first time, having learnt of JIS KL from local female DJ Leng Yein. They were so ecstatic about being there and the entire concept of the place that the three even decided to order (and pay) for their own bottle of champagne. After all, the champagne cost way lesser than what it would in normal bars/clubs, and the rest of their fun night was free.
I inform the staff that I want to match with the other group of girls, and find out how they are liking the social lounge. This group was shy at first, but eventually let me join them. They were a bit more reserved and shared that they were hoping for more guys to be around – at the time I was the only guy in the premise.
Then one man walks in. I leave the ladies and continue surveying the bar and talking to staff. After some time, I go back to him, and ask about his experience.
Being the centre of attention for that time being, he said he truly enjoyed it. And that the ladies were quite reciprocative in the conversations. He enjoyed the fact that getting matched was so easy to be done and had fun playing some of the games with the first group of ladies.
for the ladies
The main attraction for JIS KL for the ladies is that they get to eat and drink FOR FREE! That’s right, everything on the normal menu, is free of charge – save for some premium menu items, and purchasing entire bottles of alcohol. It’s ladies’ day every night here, thus making it ideal for a bachelorette or birthday party, or simply a girls night out. Although, women over the age of 40 are barred from entry.
There are no private rooms, and the entire space is open and easily visible from wherever you’re seated, so safety is not an issue. Plus, there are security cameras and personnel on stand by as well. Plus, if you’re always in control of whether or not you want a certain person to continue sharing your table.
For the men
Men however have to pay for the amount of time they spend there, on top of food and (select) drinks, which by the way are relatively cheap – with plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks being free as well. They can also opt to buy the women they share the table with food or drinks too, if they want to be chivalrous.
Men have to also keep their hands to themselves, even if you arrive with your girlfriend or wife at the bar, there is absolutely no touching allowed, and in this time of coronavirus, there is also no being seated too closely. Each man can also only bring no more than two women into the lounge with them.
Apart from hosting the public in its social lounge, JIS KL is also able to be booked for private events, where you can cordon of a few seats for you and your party, or an entire section as the lounge is divided into two already. One (bigger) section employs a Sakura theme, while the other has a Gatsby theme.
On top of that, the lounge have also launched its own food and drinks delivery platform called Cheers2Cheers, in which those who enjoy the food served at JIS KL or work around the area can order it for lunch and such.
Well JIS KL is truly a first in Malaysia, and an interesting concept as well. What’s your take on this system, would you be dropping by any time soon?