Category Archives: Pizza Parlour

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.

Pizza Point Menu

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 21 Januari 2012

Pizza Point’s comprehensive and update menu of pizzas, salad, pastas, lasagna, sandwiches and desserts for Karachi,Pakistan.

pizza point menu 1

pizza point menu 1

Papa John’s Pizza Resurrected

Papa John’s has come up with a new outlet on Rashid Minhas Road and some new deals akin to Pizza Hut to revive its fluctuating fortunes.

Papa John’s opened up with much fanfare 8 years ago at the Do Talwar intersection Clifton. Unfortunately for them, Pizza Hut had already seeped into the psyche of the Pakistani consumer so much so that Papa John’s brand of pizza was rejected largely by the populace.

Unable to afford the exorbitant cost of real estate at Do Talwar, Papa John’s moved into an obscure location on Khayabane Rahat where it gradually carved out a niche for itself.

Recently Papa John’s has shifted gears, opening up a new outlet on the happening Rashid Minhas Road almost adjacent to Pizza Hut, in addition to coming up with a slurry of promotional deals to match Pizza Hut, not to mention a buy one get one free coupons in the Homexpress magazine.

Papa John’s has come up with a new outlet on Rashid Minhas Road and some new deals akin to Pizza Hut to revive its fluctuating fortunes.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 19 Januari 2012

Although the location is good, the exact position is not the greatest, in fact quite amusing. Papa John’s is housed on the 1st floor of a building, and ironically sandwiched between two ominous organizations: Agha Khan Laboratory and Metlife Insurance.

We tested the facility on a Saturday night, a time which is a rough barometer of the success of a food joint.

The place, although not completely deserted, wasn’t bustling with activity either. This could mean one of three things:

1. the target market is not yet aware of its deals,

2. the deal itself is not that lucrative, or

3. consumers still don’t like Papa John’s version.

The last point is gradually losing steam. There are four types of pizzas en vogue in Karachi: the bakery type, the Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Domino’s. All the rest are clones of these types, with Pizza Hut being cloned the most, and is thus losing its allure.

People want something different, and Papa John’s and Domino’s are the shining knights in armour offering that change. And to ensure that, both Papa John’s and Domino’s are furiously emulating Pizza Hut’s strategy of deals and stuff to capture a substantial chunk of the consumer’s heart.

Major differentiating factor between Papa John’s and Pizza Hut is the dough. While Pizza Hut’s crust is all fluffed up courtesy generous use of baking soda, Papa John’s seems to be completely devoid. It is more like the desi roti which comprises of two layers. The topping is more or less similar to Pizza Hut’s.

The promotional deal Papa John’s is offering right now has a couple of shortcomings, the biggest being you cannot choose of their star pizzas like Super Papa, All Meat and Little Italy with that deal. It’s a bad strategy because if you’re not going to allow your potential customers a trial of your best offerings (which is the real purpose of any deal), how are you going to make them fall in love with your brand for life?

Secondly, the scheme has been going on for too long now. The longer it lasts, the more people will come to take it for granted and refrain from trying out the real menu at the actual prices.

Coming back to our epicurean expedition, we opted for their special deal ‘Papa Choice 2’ which comprises of two regular pizzas (9”), two garlic sauce cups, a pitcher of soft drink, and four peperrocini peppers at a price of Rs.892 inclusive of tax.

For the two regular pizzas, due to deal restrictions we chose Pepperoni Pizzaz which is supposed to be loaded with pepperoni and extra mozzarella cheese, and New Orleans Jazz which comprises of fajita chicken, green peppers, onions, garlic sauce and red pepper sprinkled on top.

Papa John Karachi
Papa John Karachi

The garlic sauce wasn’t really a garlic sauce. It was melted butter with garlic essence. Although it wasn’t bad, it was extremely rich as you would expect butter to be and not for the faint of heart. Sauce would have been a far better option. Peppers were good.

We also tasted their salad bar not part of this deal at Rs.173. It was the usual, the same type you are used to at pizza hut or any other pizza parlour, right down to the sauces, but taste-wise Papa John fared better than pizza hut.

Finally the pizzas. If you look at the complete picture of the pizzas, it will appear that the topping is scarce. Now look at the images of the individual slices and you’ll see the topping is sufficient. Yes, the ends of the crust could have been covered easily with topping. At least then Papa John could have claimed to be one league above Pizza Hut in the toppings department.

Now the taste. The Pepperoni was a bit of a disappointment. One reason was that the pepperoni was razor-thin unlike any we’ve seen or tasted so far, and it didn’t taste fresh enough. Papa John would do well to slice fatter pieces. Secondly the description claimed that the mozzarella was extra but we didn’t detect any generous topping of it compared to our other pizza.

The Jazz fared better than the Pepperoni, although we didn’t detect the garlic sauce essence claimed in the description.

Papa John has a distinct taste which should appeal to the palette of our ‘ever searching for the new culinary experience’ public. Although it has finally realized the potential of marketing its brand, it would do well to market its distinctiveness more aggressively if it is to compete with the likes of Pizza hut and Domino’s.

Domino’s Quesadilla and Double Melt Cheese Pizza

Domino’s has been around in this part of the world for quite some time now. It started off true to its brand essence of being a delivery and take-away joint located in the obscure location behind Nando’s next to Damascus in Clifton. While Pizza Hut was going great guns at that time penetrating like hell, Domino’s was content with just one outlet delivering to only Clifton and Defence areas.

Then all of a sudden it woke up from its deep slumber and within no time had opened quite a few dine-in outlets, the most prominent being the National Stadium one adjacent to Copper Kettle.

But it found out the hard way how late it was in getting in on the action as Pizza Hut had deeply entrenched itself in the mind of the consumer so much so that the target market now considered Pizza Hut’s taste as the benchmark. Any deviation from this was rejected outright. Conversely, many pizza hut clones did roaring as a result of this.

This single consumer preference cost many Pizza outlets dearly who didn’t aspire to Pizza Hut’s way of baking pizzas. Domino’s was one of them.  It had to close down its biggest joint on Stadium Road due to lack of business.

It has come a long way since then, emulating Pizza Hut’s promotional tactics of coming up with something new and unique every now and then. To its credit, it hasn’t tried to copy Pizza Hut’s recipe, sticking to its own brand essence while trying out new things.

We paid a visit to its recently opened Bahadurabad outlet next to HavMor ice cream on the main Bahadurabad chowrangi, and tried their latest offerings.

One was the double melt cheese, and the other Quesadilla.

Domino's Quesadilla and Double Melt Cheese Pizza are just two of the shrewd promotional tactics Domino's using to wrest market share from the grasp of pizza hut.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 27 Desember 2011

Both are unique creations, although Quesadilla is being made by other pizza joints by the name of La pizza pie. Double melt cheese is pretty self-explanatory – there are two layers of cheese.

Quesadilla suffers from a pretty dab appearance. It’s only when you have taken a couple of bites of the thing that the real taste sinks in. We ordered the chicken version, and this is one major shortcoming of Domino’s Quesadilla that you can only pick one of four offerings – chicken, beef, pure cheese and vegetable. You can’t opt for any variation or combination.

Apart from that, it proved to be a hidden gem, or at least the chicken version did. The thing that stole the show was the tikka taste dominant in the chicken pieces used. Although many clones of Pizza Hut claim to offer the tikka flavor, almost all of them fail at it, offering plain marinated chicken instead of the real coal grilled taste, probably thinking they’ve fooled the customer.

Domino's Pizza Karachi Pakistan
Domino's Pizza Karachi Pakistan

They need to wake up to the fact that the consumer is a lot more discerning than they credit him for and can destroy your business by opting to never come back.

In this context, Domino’s gets full marks because it never promised to offer tikka flavor and yet went ahead and did just that. This is a perfect example of ‘Under promise – over deliver’, an adage all brands should adhere to religiously.

It doesn’t matter if the chicken used in the Quesadilla was actual tikka or just plain chicken which was subjected to a few minutes of coal vapor. What matters is that the consumer was given a pleasant surprise when he wasn’t expecting one.

Now if only they could spruce the appearance of the Quesadilla, because at the moment it looks like a glorified version of a Nan. A fancy Nan by a pathan ka dhaba that is filled with all sorts of Pathani delicacies.

The double melt cheese pizza did well both on the presentation and the taste front. By the looks of it, we weren’t expecting it to be so fulfilling, and yet it was that rich- the two cheese used combined to create a perfect concoction for satiating your appetite.

Also all the flavors that are available for the simple version are valid for the double cheese version as well.

The good thing is that Domino’s hasn’t changed its brand essence to conform to Pizza Hut’s benchmark. It is still making its trademark thin crust.

What Domino can improve upon is the frequency and variety in its deals and promoting them through the digital media which majority of the target market is using.

Pizza Hut Flavors of the World

Pizza Hut’s Flavor of the World theme is the newest Pizza Hut campaign to hit Karachi. Pizza Hut is offering four different flavors from four different countries under the Flavor of the World theme:

  1. Pesto Italiano- Italy,
  2. Sour Cream and Onion – France,
  3. Mega Pepperoni and Mushroom- America,
  4. Shanghai Chicken – China.

We tested two of the flavors – Pesto Italiano and Sour Cream & Onion. Price-wise they are the same as any other pizza on the menu.

Taste-wise as well, they’re not much different from the usual offering of Pizza Hut.

Pesto Italiano was scrumptious with pesto being used as the base instead of the usual pizza sauce. Pesto is a sauce consisting of usually fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated cheese.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 19 November 2011

The sour cream and onion was a bit disappointing. And it wasn’t because of mediocre taste. It wasn’t up to the mark because the sour cream and onion which it was supposed to be having by virtue of its name was overshadowed by the addition of sweet corn. Or maybe it didn’t have the required sour cream and onion essence to begin with. We will never know.

Sweet corn in itself is not a bad choice for an ingredient but in this case it proved to be a damper.

The topping on both the pizzas was refreshingly substantial. In fact it would be fair to say that the topping was literally overflowing. It was that good. In fact the best we’ve ever experienced at Pizza Hut.

Overall both the pizzas tasted like any other pizza of Pizza Hut with minor variation. You can’t say the pizzas were different altogether, something you’ve never had before at Pizza Hut.

To set the record straight, we had complained to the floor manager beforehand about the meager toppings that we have encountered on previous visits.

Try Flavors of the World theme by Pizza Hut with a low expectation of uniqueness, because in spite of having a tantalizing taste, it is in fact very much what you’ve been having at Pizza Hut.

Pizza Factory Uncut

Creating a pizza that’s going to be loved by the consumer in this part of the world is no child’s play. Pakistanis are very definitive in their choices: they either love an eatery, or hate it with all their guts (no pun intended)- there’s no grey area in between. And this unspoken rule holds truer for pizza parlours than any other category. If you have a look at the number of pizza houses that have crashed and burned in this coastal city in just half a decade, you’ll realize what I mean.

The first one to come crashing down was King Burger in Bahadurabad. If you don’t know about this place, you must have been living under a rock. King Burger was to pizza in Karachi what Mr. Burger was to the ‘burger’ burger- a pioneer. It opened way back in late 80s and introduced this Italian dish when no one had even heard of it in this part of the world –let alone be infatuated with Pizza Hut. The fact that it survived till the start of the millennium tells you something about the popularity of the place. Why it closed shop has more to do with the onslaught of foreign competitors than any major folly on its part.

The second major casualty was Pappasallis, one of the few local restaurant chains actually exported to Karachi from the rest of the country. Pappasallis  was a happening Italian restaurant of Islamabad ( I believe it still is), and when I visited it back in 1998, it offered a diverse variety of scrumptious stuff, of which pizza was just one of the items.

Then it came to Karachi in 2001, and although it was still sumptuous and opened with much fanfare, it didn’t appeal to the olfactory sense of Karachiites, closing shop within a year. Or maybe the location was the problem. In Islamabad it was situated right in the heart of its major super market, in Karachi it opened in an obscure commercial district of one of the Khayabans in phase VI right next to the super market Rajani’s. Rajani’s didn’t last long either, so maybe that whole lane is jinxed.

But the biggest flop to date has got to be Papa John’s. I’ve heard that it has only moved and not wrapped up business altogether, but I can’t imagine why, considering it was located on a prime site, just beside the ‘Do Talwar’ roundabout. Again, there was nothing wrong with the taste. Maybe the problem is with the consumer taste preference.

Pizza Hut has made such emphatic inroads into the Pakistani heart and mouth, that any pizza deviating from Pizza Hut’s taste is rejected by the masses, as if that’s the Holy Grail of Pizzadom. And Papa John was definitely a unique taste altogether different from the Pizza Hut.

Dominos seems to be heading towards the same fate although it continues to hang on. Again no problem with the taste, just different and a bit on the expensive side. Dominos continued to operate solely as a Takeaway and delivery brand, from Clifton adjacent to the famous Damascus, faithful to its brand essence. Then it decided to spread its wings and opened its’ first diner shop at a prime location on National Stadium Road adjacent to Copper Kettle. And it was a huge double story parlour, but it remained deserted like a ghost town. Ultimately it moved from there to University Road near one of the Pizza Hut outlets. Whether it will pick up business there remains to be seen.

Another lesser known casualty was La Pizzo Pie, which was located opposite BBQ Tonight adjacent to the Mars Ice Cream Parlour. Location-wise, it wasn’t the ideal spot because it wasn’t located on the main street opposite the BBQ tonight like the Mars parlour but on the other side leading towards the sea-side just before the Clifton Grill, but unlike CG it was quite far from the main road so much so that it wasn’t easily visible.

It was a small cozy diner, immaculately designed in line with the pizza essence. But their greatest tactic was the use of a membership card, an idea which pizza hut used to great effect and which was instrumental in making Pizza Hut a household name even in areas like Gulshan and Nazimabad. LPP’s membership was even more generous than the PH one, offering 50% discounts a lot more than PH. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and the place closed down.

Pizza Express is hanging on barely by changing names one after the other, from Express to Experts and now to ‘Kiing’.

Almost all the pizza parlors thriving today are those which ape the Pizza Hut recipe. Pizza Next, Pizza One and Penny Pizza are three such hits. Pizza 2000 is the rare exception which doesn’t imitate the Pizza Hut taste and yet continues to hold steady.

And now we have the Pizza Factory. It’s not an upscale restaurant, nor is it located in an upscale area – the main boulevard leading from Jauhar Mor to Jauhar Chowrangi. What’s different about it is that it does not imitate Pizza Hut, secondly, it is striving to project an aura of an upscale food joint courtesy some shrewd interior designing. What’s more, it got off to a flyer, offering a buy 1 get 1 free deal right at the launch, which was splashed on a billboard on the main boulevard. That really create a buzz about the place, something you desperately need right at the outset to be able to survive the first two scary years. They say if you survive the first two hellish years both in marriage and restaurateurship, chances are you’ll make it.

So we landed at the place one day to test drive their offering. Yes, they have done a pretty good job with the interior and all, and the place is good enough even for families, which is not something you can say for the rest of the lot on that particular food street. The dim red light ambience was a bit unsettling though, reminding me of the helicopter interior with the red lights at the start of Predator- first part.

The ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ deal was gone, however there were some other deals that would have been great had this been a genuinely upscale joint. But brilliant effort on their part to try to pass off as a superior pizza parlour with the help of some cunning interior play and premium pricing.

And it would have succeeded tremendously even in that neighborhood if it had just focused a bit more on the actual product behind the brand. You see, branding efforts can take you only so far. The actual product has to be good as well, at least having the POP (Points of Parity).

Coming back to the test drive, we ordered their Deal One, which comprised of 2 large pizzas, 4 garlic breads and a 1.5 litre PET drink for Rs.889 inclusive of taxes. First the garlic breads. There was hardly any essence of garlic and were a bit too dry. They should have at least buttered it if they couldn’t afford the cheese.

Then came the pizzas. We ordered Chicken Smoke and Chicken BBQ. There was no Supreme which was disappointing. One thing confusing about the choice of chicken pizzas was that there was a chicken tikka as well as a chicken bbq pizza. When we asked what was the difference between the two, the waiter said there wasn’t any difference except that the bbq was the hotter version. We accepted this explanation.

Then the pizzas came. As you can see from the snaps, they definitely looked appetizing, barring the one flaw which almost every pizza parlour is guilty of deliberately putting it there- the lack of filling at the fag end of the slice.

However when we tasted it, we felt….. nothing. That’s it. There was no taste whatsoever- no salt, no chillies, no nothing. It was as if we were eating only the bread part. To be fair to them, they had put on substantial filling including the chicken and olives on the base, (except the ‘mandatory’ far end), and yet there was literally no taste on either of the pizzas. Remarkable feat I would say, considering there was enough pizza sauce on it. We tried our best to sex it up with the four different spices lying on the table (they probably know their pizzas taste all the same) plus the salt, but to no avail.Pizza Uncut

The only rational explanation we can come up with, is that they didn’t use quality cheese plus the chicken botis were probably just plain boiled- they weren’t marinated or even BBQed as the menu claimed.

To conclude, it’s a shame that the Pizza Factory people having done so much to promote their den are not putting the same effort into the making of their core product. With the nice ambience and the remarkably courteous waiters in this part of town, they have the perfect recipe for Pizza Glory if only they can bring some taste into it.

Pizza Hut’s Happy Hour Deal

Pizza hut has finally decided to follow Subway’s brilliant strategy of offering discount deals during the day’s slowest business hours. While Subway started offering the deal between 2 and 4 on Sundays and then extending it to all days, Pizza Hut has timed it between 4 and 7pm.

When it comes to value for money,  Subway is the winner by far.  While Subway offered buy one get one free deal for 6 inch subs, pizza hut’s deal just offers free drinks with their regular pizzas- nothing else. But that did not deter people from having a go at the deals.

That’s the thing about deals. Consumers in this part of the world just love going after everything that has the deal tag attached to it.

This time around we checked the Nazimabad outlet adjacent to Dilpasand near A.O Clock Tower. It is by far one of the biggest pizza hut outlets in Karachi.

The drinks have always been a sore point for pizza hut and this time was no different. We chose ‘white’ and it tasted like the liquid version of lemon strepsils. It was neither 7up nor Sprite.

One thing worth appreciating about pizza hut is the flexibility they offer besides the menu. Or maybe it was this particular waiter who offered us this option. In any case, we chose the large pizza deal and were allowed the choice of having half of the pizza as chicken supreme and the other half beef supreme. The stated price of the deal is Rs.645 which includes a large pizza and a pitcher of soft drink, but with GST it comes out to be around Rs.750. The deal is good enough for two people only.

Remember the time when pizza hut used to leave the corners as barren land? Well, it seems with a large dose of consumer bashing that has changed at least at this outlet. Check out the pictures yourself to see the difference. The topping has dramatically improved.edges covered in beef supreme

Beef supreme loaded

chicken n beef supremeThere is however one problem that pizza hut will need to fix. The meat had a smell, both chicken and beef. Now this is the first time that we’ve experienced such a problem at pizza hut and the grapevine has it that this particular outlet is guilty of this offence on more than one occasion.

So what could be the reason for foul-smelling meat? It’s not that the meat was under-cooked. All the other ingredients were baked to perfection. So who is the culprit?

When it comes to chicken especially, there’s only one instance when it smells, and that is when it has been kept for quite some time. It does not matter if it has been frozen properly. Chicken will always smell if it has been stored for long, unless it is marinated excessively with strong condiments.

Beef on the other hand has a distinct smell and taste of its own which gets stronger with the passage of time. So pizza hut will have to be very careful as to when that quality gets too strong for the consumer’s taste. The lesson for pizza hut is to avoid keeping a large inventory of perishable items.

We also tried the potato wedges and potato skins which are not part of the deal. Subway beats Pizza Hut in the case of wedges as well. Even Roasters’ potato wedges offered with their breakfast deals are better than Pizza Hut’s.

The potato skins are an unique item and not something you would find anywhere else. They could have been great had the garlic sauce served with them prepared properly. Both the potato wedges and skins cost Rs.75, and the quantity you can judge for yourself from the snapshots.

Overall, pizza hut’s deal is alright. Just don’t expect any great value addition from their regular menu.

Kings & Queens Pizza – Still Standing

Kings & Queen started out as a pizza parlour way back when names like Pizza 2000 were the market leaders with Pizza Hut nowhere in sight. It has now evolved to offer subway type sandwiches,burgers, pasta and even shawarma. Although it claims to have many branches including one in Lahore, the one being evaluated here is a small joint nestled between Pie in the Sky bakers and a DVD shop in one of the obscure sections of the bustling Muhammad Ali Society Food Street.  Short to fame way back in the 1980s with the likes of Kaybees, Vimpy’s and Spinzer, it now has even KFC and Pizza Hut vying for a share of the pie.

Coming back to the location of Kings & Queen on this street, it’s not even on the main street, and if you don’t know what you are looking for, you won’t find it.

About the joint itself, it’s way too small, having just five tables of four jampacked into a small space. But the ambience is good enough.  The interior is aesthetically done with small 1’X1’ paintings donning one of the walls. There’s no question the joint is geared towards the millennial generation, however a family was spotted as well during one of the visits.

The menu should have been printed on a proper card instead of just in the form of a paper brochure. A menu is a crucial element of the brand positioning and it should be given as much importance as the other elements.

As far as the content of the brochure is concerned, it has been wonderfully done, especially the wording. Items have been branded in line with the brand essence of the Café, that is pack of cards. So you have names like Queen of Aces and King of Diamonds for the different burgers and sandwiches. Even the description of these branded items is written artfully to elicit a mouth-watering response just by reading it.  It is very much in the mold of the Copper Kettles and the Arizona Grills. Sadly, that’s where the similarities end as soon as you lay eyes on the food when it arrives.

The subway sandwich could easily have been made a bit bigger. Considering the hefty price tag of Rs.160, you expect something more filling than this. The quantity as well as the size of the French fries should also be better. Hell, they didn’t even coat the fries with the corn flour to make them extra crispy and bulky, something which many local fast food joints have picked up from their foreign franchise counterparts.

The Queen of Diamond burger with double cheese and fried egg on top was a big disappointment. Two problems stood out- one, it was way too small; two- it tasted like the burger of Hanifia instead of a ‘burger’ burger. The beef patty was too desi to support the brand essence of Kings & Queen.

Kings and Queen’s main item, that is pizza, is a mixed bag. The topping including the cheese is generous, the crust is quite good, markedly different from what you get at the big brands. However, there’s something amiss with the taste. One important factor is the cheese itself. Although sufficiently used, it tastes like some inferior quality, just not up to the mark.

We tried two of their flavors. Both were chicken, and one of the things wrong with both of them was that the chicken used was essentially the same one they used in their sub, their sandwiches and everything else. There’s just no difference in the way the chicken is marinated and cooked for different products. What this does is make all their products taste like each other. A branding guru would be proud of this remarkable consistency across product lines but a consumer won’t be amused. If he’s ordering something else, he wants something different. Period.

Their KQ Sandwich, which is supposed to be their trademark meal in the sandwich category, was a major disappointment. Although it’s description in the menu boasted of heaven, a four deck sandwich with sausages and chicken chunks and what not, the real thing belied the description. It had the most basic flaw, that of inadequate filling. This alone is enough to sum up the experience, an experience which cost Rs.155. 

Kings and Queen’s has done a good job of branding and is consistent with it with respect to time as well as location. All the three outlets at Boating Basin, Defence phase VI and Muhammad Ali Society offer the same value and ambience. What it needs to do is built upon this value by tweaking its taste a few notches up. Having a tantalizing aroma wafting through the dining hall alone could see the sales go through the roof.


Pizza Hut’s Pzone Deal

Pizza Hut’s Pzone deal is the worst deal ever in the history of meal deals in Pakistan. This consensus has been reached by all those people who have dared to try it out. Pizza Hut is an expert exponent of innovative variations of its product. This time around it tried one variation too many.

After having just one bite of this strange dish, you wonder what was Pizza Hut thinking? It doesn’t fit with the brand essence of Pizza Hut in any way. It’s largely devoid of cheese so there goes the most essential ingredient of a pizza, then the bread used in this bizarre sandwich does not match with the crust used in the pizzas. So what was Pizza Hut trying to do?

The only logical explanation is that it’s trying to come up with a dish that triggers the individual dining experience similar to what is possible at KFC and MacDonald. Pizza Hut is more of a family dining experience so it probably wanted to reposition itself as equally good for dining alone. Maybe the pan pizza deals weren’t doing the trick so they had to resort to this drastic step.

However the way it has gone about this business is simply disastrous. Even the potato wedges that are served with this tasteless sandwich are nothing to write home about. What’s more, they are a handful. The only saving grace of this meal is the garlic sauce served with it. Pizza Hut is astute at making this sauce and it was again evident in this failed attempt.

So why did this offer fail? To begin with, the idea wasn’t bad, it was only the execution that didn’t come out right. So how can Pizza Hut change it around? Not now. It’s too late because the negative word of mouth has done enough damage to redeem this dish. In retrospective, what Pizza Hut could have done was use the same dough as well as style of baking which they employ for the pizzas. Then the filling of this sandwich should have been oozing with cheese instead of onion which was the case here. Again, the idea wasn’t bad in any way, if only Pizza Hut had put some effort into it.

Finally, they should have tested this product on their own management before releasing it into the wild. This simple gesture would have saved this campaign from disaster. If the management wasn’t able to eat this dish all the way through in that test, then the consumer should have been spared this agony.

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