June 18, 2004

Article at Wall Street Journal

The Card: Door Prize (Shanghai)

Watch the entrance of People 7 long enough and you'll notice something odd about this bar and restaurant in Shanghai: Many of the customers can't figure out how to open the door, give up and leave.

The joke is on them, says managing director Germaine Zhou. To get in, you need a code, which you enter onto a door-mounted puzzle of sorts. Enter the wrong code and a fake door will open, leading nowhere. Kick on the door and no one will respond. Enter the right code and the real door will slide open, revealing an aluminum-coated bar almost 17 meters long -- probably the longest in Shanghai. Its design was inspired by the wing of an airplane; the lights running along it like those of a runway.

And like the door, there's a trick with this bar. And a few jokes with the bathrooms. And various others around the place.

"Shanghai is very competitive, so if you want to stand out you should do something different," explains Ms. Zhou. "We decided to make this a humor restaurant."

Besides being full of jokes, People 7 also imitates the experience of taking a flight: the entrance resembles a boarding gate, the lights in the bathrooms come on only when you latch the door shut, and the dining lounge feels decidedly first class. The latter sports cozy white sofas and aluminum tables, with no lighting other than candles. Against the lounge is a long glass wall facing hundreds of bamboo trees.

After all this, the Chinese and Japanese dishes and cocktails served here seem almost secondary. You'll forget the food and drink -- but you'll talk about People 7 for some time to come.

People 7, 805 Julu Lu, Shanghai. Tel: 86-21-5404-0707.
Open: daily, 11.30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 6 p.m. to 12.30 a.m.