Category Archives: N.Nazimabad

Burger King Iftar Deal

Burger King is offering two different iftar deals this Ramadan, both of which are a bit vague in that they haven’t mentioned the specifics of it unless you can make out what is what from the visual.

Burger King is relatively new in the Pakistani market and in fact this is Burger King’s very first Ramadan in Pakistan. It remains to be see how Burger King competes with the likes of Hardee’s and Johnny Rockets as far as Ramadan deals go.

Burger King Ramadan Deal

Burger King Karachi

Phone Number: (021) 111 112 525
Address: 1.Opp. Boat Basin, 2. Dolmen city, 3.Near Metric Board Office, Karachi, Pakistan
Website: http://www.burgerking.com.pk
burger king ramadan deal
burger king ramadan deal

Hardees Iftar Deal

Hardee’s has been operating in Karachi for the last four years. In all these years Hardee’s has kept itself confined to just one branch in North Nazimabad, ignoring the huge target market south of Karachi where the real have-nots of this coastal town.  Moreover, Hardee’s has kept a very conservative approach to Ramadan deals, offering the bare minimum in iftar deals when it has got the potential to offer much more. Hardee’s would do well to take a leaf out of Johnny Rockets page which has come out with a very lucrative Ramadan deal.

Here’s what Hardee’s is offering as part of its iftar deal at Rs. 1300:

Hardee’s Iftar Offering[su_box style=”bubbles” box_color=”#c3100d” title_color=”#06249a” radius=”14″]2 chicken fillet burger 1 famous star burger 3 chicken tenders 3 drinks Fries[/su_box]

Hardees iftar deal
Hardees iftar deal

Hardees Restaurant
Hyderi, Block-D, North Nazimabad
Karachi , Pakistan 

Phone: 9221-36633853-54

Pizza Point Takes on Pizza Hut

Pizza Point is yet another clone of Pizza Hut that has been on Karachi’s foodscape for over a year now but only recently got in the limelight with it’s special deals which it is promoting through scrolls as part of cable TV advertising.

It seems Pizza Point is confident of making it big in the cutthroat food service industry of Karachi, as is evident from the fact that it has already churned out three outlets at strategic locations: Gulshane Iqbal, North Nazimabad and DHA.

The location of the North Nazimabad outlet is by far the best, situated on the Donisl and Cool 90s food street in Block H. The Gulshan joint is the most subdued, an open-air cafesque joint on the road leading to Gulshan chowrangi coming from Mukka chowk –Aisha Manzil.

We visited the North Nazimabad outlet sometime back before they hit the cable TV circuit and we were most impressed by it. Not only is the outlet enormous in size, with two floors and a private dining room unheard of in this part of town, the attention to detail is exquisite. While the interior is not exactly baroque, having the usual pizza parlor arrangement, they’ve made an effort to project an aura of an upscale pizza joint with its elaborate designs.

At the time we visited, Pizza Point was offering the ‘Buy one Large pizza and get a regular for Rs.99’ only through coupons printed in the Homexpress magazine. Either the penetration of Homexpress isn’t much or people have stopped reading it altogether because there weren’t many customers when we visited it.

Pizza Point is yet another clone of Pizza Hut that has been on Karachi’s foodscape for over a year now but only recently got in the limelight with it’s special deals

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 22 Januari 2012

Now they’ve made that deal open to all devoid of any coupon requirements and promoting it through cable TV scroll along with its Triple Damaka offer as part of its Anniversary celebrations.

Now two deals at the same time is not the most effective option. For one, it gives the impression that the brand is desperate to lure customers in and is coming up with all sort of deals because the product itself is maybe not good enough. Secondly, you cannot measure the impact of the individual deals, which one was effective and which one wasn’t.

We opted for their buy one get one for Rs.99 deal and chose their Super Max and Arabic Green Pizza.

The Arabic Green, although not Arabic by any stretch of the imagination but rather more Mexican, was a combination of supposedly Arabic chicken, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, jalapenos and of course mozzarella cheese. What’s more, it was a delight in every way. Not only was the crust oozing with loads of topping, the taste as well was out of this world. Was the extra rich flavor a result of the garlic mayo sauce on top or a combination of the ingredients, we’re not sure, but the outcome was smashing.

Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan
Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan

One thing though, it was spicy as hell. Although there were jalapenos there, but we feel this was a result of local spices added for good measure. So if you’re looking for a unique ‘unpizza’, you can’t have it better than Arabic Green at Pizza Point.

Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan
Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan

In contrast, Pizza Point’s Super Max equivalent to Pizza Hut’s Super Supreme was a disappointment. It wouldn’t have been had they named it something else or branded a pizza Super Max which was worthy of this name, things wouldn’t be so bad. That’s because a Super Max or a Super Supreme is supposed to be an embodiment of a perfect pizza which has all the ingredients.

Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan
Pizza Point Karachi Pakistan

This wasn’t it. Pizza Point’s Super Max was supposed to comprise of smoked chicken, chicken sausages, pepperoni, beef, smoked veal, mushrooms, green peppers, olives and mozzarella cheese. Just look at the images. Although you’ll see the rudimentary ingredients, not all were there. Even if you ignore their absence, the sparse topping as is evident from the pics is inexcusable.

One of the problems Pizza Hut has been having lately is the lack of covering near the corners. Pizza Point has an excellent opportunity to cover those ends as well with the topping and then promote this as a USP over Pizza Hut.

Taste-wise, Pizza Point is quite similar to Pizza Hut, but not as much as Penny Pizza. We feel the confidence Pizza Point is projecting with its huge set-up and  investment is probably because it has Pizza Hut ex-staff on its team who knows how Pizza Hut make its version, plus it is also banking on the fact that the Pakistani consumer is still enamored by the Pizza Hut’s version of pizza.

Price-wise Pizza Point is quite expensive, almost at par with Pizza Hut. A regular pizza for Rs.620 is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. At this price, why would you go to Pizza Point when you can have the same thing at Pizza Hut?

Maybe this was the reason Pizza Point hasn’t really gone through the roof as yet in spite of good pizzas and maybe this is the reason they’ve introduced these cost-effective deals which have been going on for quite sometime. The question is, will the customer continue to return in the absence of deals and at the actual price?

Pizza Point would also do well to introduce some deals to promote their other products like lasagna, pasta and the sandwiches.

All in all Pizza Point is a good place to devour a Pizza Hut like pizza in an upscale ambience.

Hardees Karachi Pakistan

Hardees Karachi Pakistan is still flying high third week into its foray of Karachi’s cutthroat fast food scene.

We tested Hardees for the third time in as many weeks, this time testing their mettle of managing take-away orders.

Our order took roughly 22 minutes, which on its own is not bad, but considering the fact that the dine-in orders take no more than 5 minutes to arrive, this wasn’t their best performance.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 8 Oktober 2011

In fact, it seemed hardees was having a bad hair day because although this day had the least foot traffic of our three visits, things were not going smoothly. This we witnessed from our vantage point near the counter as we waited for the order.

The modus operandi they’ve employed for take-away is that the smaller order gets precedence even if its 10 orders down the line. That way, No.25 would be served before No.15 if the size of the order was less.

Now although this maybe an efficient system of dispersing orders quickly to them, but from a customer’s point of view, it’s not very flattering when the person who came later than you gets served before. And this strategy has the potential of pissing off a hot-headed customer.

And it managed to do just that right in front of our eyes. An uncle who it seemed had ordered for their entire neighborhood got pushed down the queue as per Hardee’s strategy. After waiting patiently for sometime, they stomped to the counter fuming, letting the staff have it.

Then the items within each specific order were getting mixed up. In fact in our own case, we had order grilled chicken burger and got original thickburger in its place. Not a bad deal though, considering that the grilled chicken is Rs.100 cheaper than the thickburger.

But just imagine how the person who got the raw end of the deal, a grilled chicken instead of the original thickburger would be feeling. Probably foaming at the mouth.

On top of everything, they lost our receipt as well. It was, without doubt, complete chaos at the counter.

Hardee’s has one of the best dine-in services we’ve seen in both the local and foreign brands, but their refusal to segregate the dine-in and take-away orders is unnecessarily creating chaos both in the queues and at the counters. They would do well to separate the two at the earliest and make allowances for separate system at the very outset of their yet-to-be-launched DHA outlet.

Here’s what we test-drove on the third attempt:

Qty Type Patty Price
1 Original Thickburger Thick 360
1 Swiss Mushroom Double 360
1 Famous Star Single 270
1 Super Star Double 370
1 Chicken Fillet Single 270
1 Chicken Grilled Single 270
1 Large Fries 130
3 Large Crispy Curls 480
Total 2510

Chicken grilled of course we couldn’t get our hands on due to the mix-up.

One thing we have realized after testing pretty much all the burgers is that the Hardees staff at the counter is itself not sure which of the burgers are charbroiled and which are not. About the chicken burgers, they are confident, but when confusion reigns supreme when it comes to the beef burgers.

We ourselves have arrived at the conclusion that the thickburgers are not charbroiled, while the single and double patty burgers are. However, the people at Hardee’s counter are not sure about this. Some are saying all the burgers are charbroiled while others are not sure. No one’s confident.

All in all, the charbroiled burgers taste much better than the thickburgers, because although all the patties are frozen and not fresh, the charcoal effect enhances the taste, differentiating it not only from Hardee’s other burgers but from the rest of the competition as well.

The chicken fillet is just what you would call a filler material amongst a star-studded menu, analogous to songs that are put in an album just to add to numbers. Last time we checked the Santa Fe Chicken burger and there’s not much to choose between the two.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 8 Oktober 2011

The Swiss Mushroom with double patty fares much better than the thickburger, probably owing to the charbroiled effect. Quantity of mushrooms could be improved as the burger doesn’t have any salad in it, more mushrooms would enhance the fulfilling effect.

If you’re feeling ravenous, the Super Star is the burger to devour – an artery chocking concoction of two charbroiled beef patties oozing with mayo, double slices of cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, lettuce- the complete works.

Famous Star is a scaled-down version of Super Star with a single charbroiled patty while the rest of the condiments are the same.

The Original Thickburger is supposed to be their 2nd big star after Super Star. Although the beef patty is single, it is of the thick type covered with double slices of cheddar cheese and brimming with onions, lettuce and mayo.

The crispy curls are as always delectable while the fries didn’t do bad either. However, the real magic of these can only be felt then and there at the joint as by the time you get home, the crispy curls and the fries become soggy due to their own heat trapped within the packaging.

After three exhaustive tests, our verdict remains the same. Hardees has one of the best beef burgers in Karachi but they fall short of the gourmet category. However, if you’re looking to devour just a no-frills good old-fashioned beef burger without the bells and whistles of a gourmet burger, one that is big enough to satiate your appetite at good value for money, Hardees ought to be your first choice.

Hardees continues to mesmerize Karachi

Hardee’s love affair with Karachi is still in its honeymoon period as Karachiites continue to flock to the joint in droves, willing to spend an hour or more of their life in queues just to get their hands on something that’s mere fast food.

That’s the power of Hardee’s brand. Our second visit was at 20:00 hours on a Monday night and we had to wait almost half an hour to get in. By the time we got out an hour and a half later, the queue had ballooned to alarming proportions so much so that the police force was working in tandem with the private security guards to keep the crowd at bay.

And this is happening 10 days after Hardee’s opened up. Of course the mayhem would subside with time as well as with the launch of Hardee’s defence outlet slated to open sometime later.

This time around we tested another two of Hardee’s burgers. The Super Star Burger Rs.480 and the Santa Fe Chicken Rs.380.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 4 Oktober 2011

Hardee’s Super Star Burger is just that- a real super star. This burger beats all the other Hardee’s offerings hands down. It’s that good. It’s big, it’s sumptuous, and for the first time we felt the charcoal taste in the beef patty which was missing in our previous excursion when we tried their jalapeño and Swiss mushroom burgers.

The double decker has all the elements that make up a genuine hamburger – double patty with double cheese, onions, jalapenos, the complete works, and will put any gourmet burger to shame. It’s that good. And the thing that makes it stand out is the charcoal essence that tantalizes your taste buds in a way no other local gourmet burger has been able to emulate in this part of the world.

The only fault we could find with it is how to eat it! The bun just disintegrated after a couple of bites and then it was an uphill battle trying to keep it together while maintaining your own composure.

In contrast, the Santa Fe Chicken burger that we tested isn’t anything to write home about. It comprised of a standard chicken fillet which couldn’t even fill the complete size of the bun, mayo, a solitary and an oversize lettuce leaf that was almost twice the size of the burger and irritating to handle.

Strangely, there was neither cheese nor onion in the burger! This is all the more perplexing when you take into account the fact that Santa Fe is the premium chicken burger of Hardee’s, the most expensive of it all. And yet it didn’t have even these necessities of a burger.

This is something that Hardee’s will have to really look into, if they want to continue to make chicken burgers, although they really don’t need to, with their beef burgers having attained stardom status the world over.

But if they do intend to continue, they really need to introduce some sort of differentiation into it.

Why not a charbroiled chicken burger? At least that way they would be able to offer something uniquely apart from its chicken contender KFC and to an extent McDonald’s. Otherwise, with their current crop of chicken offerings, they’re not going to challenge even the local gourmet burgers, let alone the big Whigs.

This time around we had better luck with the ketchup as we get hold of the ketchup guy before he could slip away as he did in our previous outing. But by and large ketchup continues to be a problem. It’s true that ketchup is not for free in foreign franchises in the First World, but then, we’re not living in that world, are we? And if KFC and McDonald can adapt to the ground realities of the Third World, so can Hardees.

Now, coming to their management efficiency, one shrewd tactic they’ve employed to reduce the decision-making time at the counter is to give the security personnel the menu to hand out to the customers waiting in the queues so that they can decide what they want to eat beforehand and not waste time at the counter.

One major problem Hardee’s going to face later when the euphoria dies down is the clarity of their pricing or rather lack of it.

The glitch in the afore-mentioned tactic is that the prices are not mentioned on this menu. Or on any menu for that matter. In fact the only time you’ll see the prices are on top of the counter.  And then on your bill.

And the bill is itself is one complex jumble of figures.  Instead of quoting the same combo meal price as written on the counter, Hardees has broken down the combo meal price with beverages mentioned separately with separate price.

What this strange costing does is give the impression that Hardees is cheating by charging the beverage twice, first by including it in the combo meal where it is mentioned as well, then putting it again at the bottom of the bill.

Although in reality they’ve broken down the combo meal pricing into two parts and not charging double, most of the customers will be suspicious of this bizarre billing, more so because they’ve included yet another header at the bottom –GST.

It would be far better if they just incorporate the GST and all the intricate pricing components into one big whole to avoid any consumer backlash.  At the moment, a consumer backlash has a very bleak possibility but as the infatuation with the brand wears down, a more transparent and clear pricing would be needed to convert that initial crush into mature love.

The price itself is, of course, not the problem. People here spend like crazy on eating out; they just don’t want to be taken for a ride.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 4 Oktober 2011

There was a problem with Fanta. It tasted, well, something straight out of a hospital. When we complained to the manager, he told us the proportion of syrup in the Fanta mixture had gone wrong and told us to avoid it. It would have been better if they had put a notice near the fountain soda warning people about this problem. Nothing grandeur, just a small note.

Coming back to the menu, you would be amazed to find not a single avenue online that is showcasing Hardee’s offerings in Pakistan. Although the brand has been around for quite sometime, they’ve yet to come up with a website that does just this. Although the domain name has been booked www.hardeespakistan.com,  no work has been done it.

Yes, there are separate facebook pages for Hardees Pakistan, Hardees Lahore and even Hardees Karachi, but there’s no menu on any of them.  In fact if you search for Hardees menu online within Pakistan, you’re most likely to land on Restaurants Uncut itself. Although you’ll find a tossdown link to Hardees menu, it doesn’t go anywhere useful.

Although Hardees claims to offer Wi-Fi as mentioned on the bill, there was no Wi-Fi available.

Hardee’s continues to mesmerize Karachiites with an array of burgers that will give the existing foreign brands and the local gourmet burger brands a run for their money. How long will this passionate love affair last is anybody’s guess, but as long as Hardee’s continues to churn out new scintillating burgers instead of relying smugly on past brand laurels, it stands a real chance of converting the affair into a successful marriage that lasts.

Check out Hardee’s menu for Karachi.

Hardee charbroils Karachi!

Hardee’s has finally made it to the shores of Karachi after much hype and hoopla. Whether it was intentionally building up the anticipation – a pure marketing ploy or unwarranted delays is not known.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 28 September 2011

The end result was a big splash opening whose consequences are still being felt till the writing of this review with unending queues managed by private security guards backed up by police lurking in the shadows to handle any untoward incident.

 

Whether Hardee’s received the same maddening response when it opened first in Lahore is hard to say, but Karachi seems to be infatuated with Hardee’s big time.

 

The opening day, Hardee’s was closed to the public at large, launched by none other than Boom Boom Afridi and open to only celebrities.

 

From the second day, pretty much the entire Karachi descended upon Hardee’s located in North Nazimabad and you had to wait anywhere between 1-2 hours just to get in.

 

How long the euphoria will take to die down is hard to say, but for now it still rages on. Even now, five days after the opening, expect to spend some time in the queue if you arrive at an odd hour and a full hour at the peak timing.

 

However, once you get in, the going gets easier as the staff is ultra-efficient at getting your order through in spite of all the mayhem.

 

So, is it worth all the commotion? Ten years ago, Hardee’s would have conquered Karachi’s ‘Burgerville’, having just McDonald’s to contend with. However, now with myriad premium and gourmet burger joints springing up all over the city, each one claiming to offer the ultimate hamburger, the competition has really toughened up with razor-thin margins of error.

 

If you don’t give me the immaculate hamburger, I won’t return. Ever. That’s what all these choices have empowered the consumer to think.

 

Unlike KFC and McDonald which have forayed into quite a few delicacies that have nothing to do with their brand essence, Hardee’s is sticking to its brand essence- charbroiled burger.

 

Although Hardee’s is offering quite a few chicken burger options, the main emphasis is on the beef burger with most of the varieties revolving around this basic premise.  For instance you could take one of the beef burger, let’s say jalapeno burger, and have as many as three varieties of it: single patty, double patty or a single fat patty they refer to as the thickburger.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 28 September 2011

Then they offer the option of making your own burger by mixing together any of the burgers from the main menu. However, this option wasn’t available when we visited. Another thing missing was the onion rings.

 

The biggest competitive advantage Hardee’s has, that will definitely create a yawning gap between Hardee’s and KFC / McDonald, is the offer of free soft drink refills. Pakistanis love to have their soft drinks unlimited and Hardee’s has got its consumer insight spot on.

 

Think about it. How much drink can you expect an average consumer to drink?

 

500ml, more or less. And yet the goodwill this simple yet shrewd tactic generates would be enormous. And since the refill option is left to the customer himself via the mountain fresh, there’s very little possibility of it going to waste. Simply brilliant.

 

The combo meals that Hardee’s is offering all comprise of unlimited refrills along with fries at a mere additional cost of just Rs.100.

 

The biggest shortcoming has to be the ketchup. Unlike KFC and McDonald’s where you can have all the ketchup in the world on your own, Hardee’s just had a guy appear at the outset of your meal who offered a few satchets of Knorr ketchup and chili sauce which were duly consumed in no time but the guy was nowhere to be found when you needed him again.

 

Along with drinks, ketchup is another thing that Karachiites relish to consume by the truckload and by taking away this freedom which almost all the other fast food franchises offer, Hardee’s is just making it difficult to endear itself to the food junkies of Karachi.

 

Coming to Hardee’s forte, we tried four of their offerings:

 

The Jalapeno Thickburger, the Swiss Mushroom Burger (Single), Swiss Mushroom ThickBurger, and the Buffalo Chicken Burger.  Each burger has its own unique taste. Of course the two Swiss ones have the same taste, it’s just the difference of patty thickness. If you’re feeling ravenous, avoid the single Swish Mushroom Burger as it’s just not fulfilling.

 

 

If you’ve had Hardee’s before, you know what it is. If you haven’t, don’t expect a gourmet burger a la Gun Smoke or GBC or even Roasters.

 

Hardee’s is just that – a fast food. As such the patties are your usual frozen ones – some say they’ve been imported from Dubai – which get charbroiled duly in a matter of seconds and voila! You’ve your burger. It’s a no-frills operation akin to a car assembly line where all the parts get assembled in the most efficient manner and the least possible time.

 

Both the Jalapeno and Swiss Mushroom Burger were good, as good as you can get from a mass-produced burger. Nothing wrong with the combination, you’ve got all the elements that go into making a hamburger, only that a freshly prepared patty (relatively speaking) has all the condiments working together to tantalize your taste buds. This enhanced flavor can never be replicated in a fast food chain product – no matter how great that brand is.

 

Same fact holds true here as well. However, if you can just forget the gourmet burgers around town,  Hardee’s would definitely appeal to your olfactory buds.

 

The problem is, charbroiled means to broil over charcoal, but there’s not an iota of charcoal essence felt in the taste. It tastes like your standard machine-grilled burger.

 

One thing Hardee’s can definitely do is try to come up with an arrangement where the patty is seared. This is one of the most effective techniques that the local burger joints use to ooze out that extra bit of flavor. And if they can ensure a piping hot burger unlike the other branded burgers, all the more good.

 

Hardee’s is still in its infancy stage to accurately predict how much of the market share its going to grab from the KFC, McDonald and the numerous local gourmet burger joints.

 

Only when the dust settles down from the current mayhem will a clear picture of the competition emerge.

Donisl – BBQ or Karhai Specialist?

Donisl is one of those- hmmm –let’s see, it’s not exactly a restaurant or a fine dining haven, for you eat on the roadside – but more of a classic café in the European sense. Anyway, it’s one of those places that has spawned an entire food street in its wake. People refer to that particular street either by Donisl or Cool 90s ‘patti’ (strip). So it’s that old and famous.

But is it good enough? It must have been in its heydays, because no brand can become a hit with the consumers without offering real value to them, or at least value which they perceive to be substantial.

So, has Donisl gone past its ‘best-before’ date? We paid it a visit to check on its current brand equity.

Going by the crowd at the place, the brand equity is still going strong, there’s no question about it. It’s just that when you look beneath the surface, the value is gradually eroding as perceived by us the consumer.

For starters, the service is way below par. You ask for something, and it’s going to be given to you after ages. And I’m not even talking about the edible item as yet. The bill was the only thing that was delivered promptly, and one person out of our party was so disgruntled with the service that he exhorted us not to dish out a single penny for the tip.

We ordered the standard Chicken Karhai- the gravy version- priced at Rs.540. Going by the quantity delivered by the other karhai walas – we ordered a plate of Behari Kabab and Beef Boti as well, just to make sure we don’t return hungry.

The Karhai came almost 45 minutes after, and even that after much coaxing, but still there was no sign of the BBQ items.

Taste-wise their chicken karhai is nothing to write home about. Just the standard one with lots of tomatoes and a few green chillies thrown in for good measure, something which you can have at any average karhai wala. The quantity wasn’t fantastic either. If you’re not going to be having anything else other than the karhai, then the Rs.540 karhai is sufficient for just three healthy adults. You add a fourth person and you would need to order additional items.

After another 10 minutes came the BBQ items. Although we had ordered a behari kabab and a boti plate, both items were boti. What’s more it was so mildly BBQed that the meat was a challenge to chew. Even here the quantity lacked punch, costing Rs.85.

The parathas were the only highlight of the evening. Most brands are unable to churn out the perfect paratha with the right balance of crustiness and tenderness. Donisl excels at this.

Finally when the bill came, although both boti items were served, one item was priced for the kabab. Since there wasn’t much difference in terms of price of the two, we let that go.

Maybe the place serves you better on a weekday than a weekend because of the huge workload on a weekend, but that’s no excuse for Donisl not to deliver the value on a weekend. After all, the consumer is paying the full price even on a weekend for which he rightly expects value for money.

Donisl needs to get its act together if it is to continue to prosper as a brand.

Nandos Scores Big with Espetada Rustica

We have always been a fan of Nandos’ marketing endeavors, not just their tongue-in-cheek humorous print ads reflecting the prevailing conditions (headed by the creative department of Adcom), but also their in-house branding efforts. The way they have woven stories seamlessly into their ambiance, something which the other franchises have utterly failed to do in spite of having a long and rich tradition themselves, speaks volumes for the ingenuity of their marketing department.

However, I have never been a fan of their food. Nine times out of ten, I have come out a disappointed customer. I would have thought I  was the odd man out until I saw the share of the Pakistani market that Nandos has as found out by Aurora in their December issue – a meager 6%, which just goes on to show I’m not the only one not satisfied with their offering.

A case can be made in their favor that Subway as well has only a 6% share although it has far more outlets than Nandos. To set the record straight, Nandos has just three in the entire metropolis of Karachi. But then, it could have deliberately kept the outlets low because it expect demand for more.

When it comes to aggressive sales promotion and pricing, Subway wins against Nandos hands down. Although Subway doesn’t come up with new innovative dishes likes Nandos does, what it does do is put a clever spin on its lone offering at a price that is unbeatable. Put another way, the amount of stuff you can have at a particular price at Subway wouldn’t fulfill you at all at Nandos.

That brings us to their new marketing toy- the Espetada Rustica. If you strip away the hype, there’s nothing to it- just five pieces of tender grilled chicken served with baked vegetables, a bun and butter sauce. But the way it is presented in that unique vertically inclined skewer and the story to go with it that Christopher Columbus was addicted to this on his New World Adventures. Now the late discoverer of America may never even have heard or seen this dish, let alone be addicted to it, but such is the power of storytelling in branding that this delicacy has become the darling of the consumers. I can’t think of a time before when the consumers rushed to Nandos for some new offering as they have responded this time. A friend of mine celebrated his wedding anniversary at Nandos courtesy the Espetada Rustica.

Of course the print and the radio medium had a big part to play in this state of affairs since it was advertised on both these mediums. While the radio ad was good, especially the heavy accent used to portray possibly a Portuguese chef, the print ad would have made the great David Ogilvy turn in his grave.

Ogilvy was always a great fan of the white background, or at least a light one which would highlight the foreground elements. Nandos always goes against this convention. And it just doesn’t work completely. Just look at the ad, the background is red, the skewer is red and so is the drink! No contrast whatsoever. And if that wasn’t enough, the details of the entrée are written in microscopic font on a green background. Who on earth would be able to read that without a magnifying glass? And this isn’t the first time they have committed this folly. The fact that the cuisine has become well-known with the consumer doesn’t mean the print ad was a success. Maybe all the people driven towards the entrée was the sole result of the radio ad or even the billboard.

Now the crucial part- the taste. In that department, the Estrada Rustica is quite good. It comes in two flavors, the mild and the hot. We checked out the mild one, so cannot comment on the other one. The size of the portion was generous, enough to satiate the appetite of a healthy adult. The accessories could have been much better both in diversity and portion. A few boiled/backed pieces of assorted vegetables just doesn’t cut it. They should have at least thrown in the potato wedges for good measure, even if they are not part of the original 16th century recipe, that is, if there is really an ancient recipe of it. In any way, something extra must have been included, considering the price of the offering.

And now we come to the second crucial part – the pricing. Simply put, it is exorbitant. At Rs. 575 plus tax plus a drink plus the tip, you are looking at an Rs.850 meal, and there’s no appetizer or dessert. Now that’s pretty steep. When Nandos first launched  the offer, the drink called Blanko was included in the 575. Not anymore. You have to pay Rs.120 plus tax for that too. And it’s not even in the menu. Another fantastic marketing gimmicky.

Coming to the drink, it is offered in two flavors, either a sprite or a coke. Trust me, take the sprite version, for the other one is simply undrinkable. Not that the sprite one fares much better. We couldn’t discern the taste completely, but it tasted like a cross between a hair spray and a talcum powder. We tried our hardest to identify the brands of the powder and the hair spray, but the citrus taste courtesy slices of apple and orange in this ‘Portuguese’ drink created a hurdle in this endeavor.

We asked the waiter what on earth were the ingredients of the drink, and the poor soul had no idea himself. He said a strange syrup is imported the contents of which are confidential, and this syrup is used to make this drink. Swell.

But you have got to hand it to the Nandos people for sexing up the presentation of the drink as well with that ancient shaped bottle to go with the Columbus tale. And the volume was generous enough, about 300-350 ml.

Another brilliant marketing tactic they have come up is the use of cards to entice the first time customer for a repeat visit. The card is divided into six coupons, each coupon valid for a single visit. For the 2nd visit, you get chicken wings for free if you spend a certain amount, for the 3rd wedges and so on.

On our second visit, as promised we got the chicken wings, and they were simply divine. The thing to praise here is that the Nandos people didn’t try to cheat by offering less just because it was free, something that other franchises are prone to do.

Nandos ought to continue with this innovative style of coming up with strange and supposedly exotic dishes and marketing them aggressively. Yes, the price of Estrada Rustic is a bit too steep, which I reckon includes the cost of the marketing campaign. Otherwise, Nandos could easily have priced this product at Rs. 300-400 considering there’s no unique or expensive ingredient in it. But then, I’m also in favor of charging a brand premium if you can position your brand favorably in the consumer’s mind. And Nandos has succeeded at that in this case.

Penny Pizza – Best Clone of Pizza Hut

Penny Pizza is one of the better clones of Pizza Hut in the market. In fact when it first started out a couple of years ago, it outdid even Pizza Hut in the quantity of the topping. Since then it has come back to Earth and doing what most Pakistani pizza parlors are resorting to, specifically minimalist topping.

In spite of all that, Penny Pizza is going strong. We checked it out on a Friday night after almost a year of first testing it, and the joint was doing good business even though it wasn’t exactly the weekend. There have been loads of pizza parlors that closed shop in the first six months of their life. Penny Pizza continues to egg on. Continue reading Penny Pizza – Best Clone of Pizza Hut

One on One: Best Fast Food Clone of KFC

One on One is one of those restaurants that has everything going for it except one thing- Location. And how many restaurants and cafes we have seen over the years that looked set to take over the city’s ‘foodscape’ but suddenly ceased to exist owing to just this ‘L’. Hell, some have vanished even when they had everything going for him including the crucial ‘L’.

Remember ‘Al-Baik’? Not the one that opened in North Nazimabad a couple of years back. That fizzled out because of bad service and exorbitant charges. Continue reading One on One: Best Fast Food Clone of KFC

Subway’s Rs.169 Special Deal

When it comes to special offers, Subway takes the lead over all the other foreign franchises operating in Pakistan. Maybe this has got something to do with the fact that amongst all the foreign brands in Pakistan, Subway has had the toughest time. 10 years down the line, they have managed to capture a meager 6% of the market share in contrast to KFC lion’s share of 29%, Pizza Hut with 23% and McDonald’s with 18%.  Although Nando’s is at 6% as well, but then Nando’s hasn’t had the run that Subway has plus it doesn’t have that many outlets compared to the strong network of Subway.

(These market share stats were determined through an online survey conducted by Dawn.com and the results published in Aurora magazine). Continue reading Subway’s Rs.169 Special Deal

Largess – the upscale restaurant of yore

Largess restaurant has been around in the Karachi foodscape for what seems like eternity. It is your conventional Pakistani restaurant of the 80s era where you could find pretty much anything to eat under one roof. From Pakistani to Chinese to American steaks, you name it.

Of course that era is long gone. With branding becoming a sophisticated and specialist field, brands are increasingly adhering to the 22 immutable laws of branding, one of which is a brand needs to narrow down its focus to enhance its brand equity. Continue reading Largess – the upscale restaurant of yore