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Jin Boone Ooi On Gastro Gurus Podcast: “Clarity Of Concept & Purpose”

In this article we feature highlights from our conversation with the Founder of OMNI Whiskey Bar and Co-Founder of Wholly Spirits: Jin Boone Ooi or as his friends would call him JB. After being a software engineer for more than a decade JB has pivoted his career path into the world of Whiskey creating Wholly Spirits: a spirit wholesaler in Kuala Lumpur specializing in distributing finest artisanal liqueurs and spirits, and OMNI Whiskey Bar. JB shared with us some great insights highlighting his journey in the industry. 

Listen to the full interview here.

What made you decide to jump into this industry?
“The attraction of the opportunity to fulfill yourself in different ways.” In comparison to the IT world of guidelines and strict schedules JB explains how the FnB world is more loose “the playing field is wider, while it’s a very traditional set-up in terms of business approach.”

Tell us what’s the unique thing about OMNI that sets it apart from other places?
With Omni being created from the passion for Whiskey. JB says: “Whiskey is an attraction but value is the reason.” 70% of the portfolio at OMNI is independent bottlers. Having a mixture of vintage Whiskeys and modern liquors. OMNI is also home for the largest selection of Single Malt Scotch Whiskey in Malaysia.

With the rise of current food trends. How do make sure your menu is updated?
“There are a particular few people who are chasing after new products but I think there’s more people chasing after new experiences. The idea here is to create that new experience” OMNI is a safe haven for drinkers whether they are experienced drinkers or just starting up. Offering a variety of selections regardless of your level in the game. JB also explains that the trained staff are prepared to help you navigate through their comprehensive menu and recommend drinks for your palate. On the other hand “Our job as an operator is not only giving you what you want but also sometimes opening up boundaries for you to explore.” 

How important is customer service to you and how do you achieve the level service you aim for?
“I think customer service is one of the most important things in FnB.” He explains how even if the product is good if the experience wasn’t equally as good people wouldn’t remember you. Especially in today’s age where competition is rising and what makes an outlet stand out is the experience. “Hence, our guys are properly trained and exposed in terms of Whiskey knowledge  and technical knowledge. And how to deal with customers. He adds, “It’s the experience that we sell.”

What would you say was a challenge for you transitioning into the FnB industry?
“Being a technical savvy from a corporate background. The challenge was to understand my core businesses and how they run. Not being trained culinary-wise. You start from ground zero.” He explains how in the industry you’re constantly exposed to new experiences and lessons, learning more about the behind the scenes and how drinks are made. He says: “It’s always an upward curve. The one thing that helped me is being observant in terms of how things are done and being curious in terms of why things are done that way.”

Let’s talk Marketing. What image do you want to achieve with your marketing?
“I like to believe that I’m a traditional man. I like to believe people talking about you more than people seeing about you.  A word of mouth is basically a sense of confidence from another party. That’s the best marketing.” He explains, still with the current digital world marketing needs to be attractive to your customer base and newcomers “Either that you remind them of a good experience or that it’s attractive enough for them to come and explore.”

Could you share some advice for potential FnB business owners?
“I think one of the best things is the clarity of concept and purpose. So the concept and objective need to be very clear before you go into your financial business case.” 

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