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. I’m talking about the one that opened smack in the middle of Boating Basin Food Street back in 2004. What was it’s claim to fame? It was the best clone of KFC I’ve come across, an opinion that many consumers concurred with. No one came even close to emulating KFC’s zinger and fried chicken (Bovi Chick was ahead of the rest of the pack but still not close), until now.

One on One is precisely that, a great clone of KFC but still cannot defeat the deceased Al-Baik either in price or taste imitation. But it is the best one around with no sound competitors. Sure, there is the Chicken King (Malaysian Franchise) and Chicken Cottage (British franchise) in Hyderi, and Chicken Hut in Clifton, but all of them are way too expensive, so much so that you might as well have KFC if that’s what you are after. They don’t have any distinct tastes of their own.

This is where One on One excels in. Definitely not cheap, but it keeps its prices relatively low compared to KFC and its many imitators. For instance, a KFC Zinger deal costs you Rs.300 plus, whereas the same deal at One on One will cost you Rs.155 (add 15 for the cheese). The price has however, crept to Rs.160 since our last visit. Unlike KFC and its other clones, One on One carries beef burgers as well as has a salad bar a la Pizza Hut.

Let’s dissect the Zinger clone first which they call the ‘Crusty’ burger. Without any doubt, it has a Zinger-esque taste. The mayonnaise spread is a wee bit less leaving the burger a bit on the dry side. The bun was a tragedy. It wasn’t fresh, and to pass it as fresh, they had heated it a bit which was evident from its crusty texture. This small diversion could fool a rookie consumer but cannot escape the lashing of an expert tongue. And most of Pakistani consumers are an expert at such things so 1on1 management has to remember this lesson- Never  ever serve a stale item to your customer.  Let me repeat that- never ever serve a stale item to your customer- even if it is going to cost you more in the short run – even if it’s just a day old and not a food hazard to the customer -even if the customer looks like a street urchin.

Why? Well for starters, it’s going to leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth – both literally and metaphorically speaking. Secondly, it’s going to leave the impression that not many people frequent the place due to which the food items do not get consumed right away- something which actually happens in a lot of our restaurants.

Finally, your mission as a restaurateur is to not only meet, but exceed the customer expectations. That’s just not possible with you serving food on the verge of expiry.

French fries helping is generous enough and an exact clone of KFC. And yes they were quite fresh.

One on One Chicken Grilled Croissant
One on One Chicken Grilled Croissant
One on One Crusty Burger
One on One Crusty Burger

The fried chicken was good enough as well, pretty much what KFC has to offer. It was the Grilled Chicken Sandwich presented in a croissant that was the most disappointing. For a change, the croissant was fresh unlike the bun, but it just wasn’t fulfilling enough. And at Rs.200, you better make your offering substantial enough  to satiate the customer’s appetite, otherwise they won’t be back. Not only was the croissant of average size, the grilled chicken inside was even smaller. Even taste-wise it was just ok, nothing to write home about.

The ambience is good enough. Brightly lit with sofa chairs and stuff, it has done everything possible to project an aura of an upscale franchise. One of the secondary things I check is the condition of the washroom, and I’m happy to report that they have done justice to this area of the restaurant as well, something which many ‘Me-too’ category restaurants choose to ignore.

So what is it that they lack? Two things. A marketing strategy and location. As far as location is concerned, although they have opened in a commercially vibrant area, it’s not the place where you would expect to find such a restaurant. Why?

Two reasons. The area is home to people belonging to lower middle to working class, two segments that would be hard-pressed to afford to dine at an upscale fast food joint. Even if they do, it would be extremely rare. That means the joint would have to depend on consumers coming in from other areas. For that to happen, the joint needs to be situated on the main road. And that where it runs into major problems, for it is nestled deep inside the area fondly called the ‘2K’ Stop.

I have come across extremely few restaurants that are so unfavorably situated and still make it through. Evolution in Khayaban-e -Tauheed is one such lucky survivor, going strong for more than seven years. Then there is Hot Spot Ice Cream Parlour in the same vicinity. But these are mere exceptions. Remember Shakes and Steaks at Zamzama? No one does now. Although it was nestled deep inside Zamzama’s narrow lanes but then so is Roasters and a host of other successful eateries.

The point is, it is extremely tough to make it in a by-lane. If you are not lucky enough to be on the main road, then you either need to have a terrific marketing strategy, or a fabulous offering that spreads quickly through word-of-mouth. But hoping and relying solely on word-of-mouth is living in a fool’s paradise. Word-of-mouth especially positive, takes a lot of time to impact sales unlike its negative counterpart which spreads like wildfire.

If One on One is to survive, it has to first realize, if it hasn’t already, that it has a severe disadvantage courtesy its location. Then it has to launch into an aggressive marketing campaign. Two marketing tactics that are common in this category is the use of flyers/brochures to promote the joint, secondly the use of membership cards that offer huge discounts at a paltry annual fee, but ensure that the customers keeps coming back for more.

Although pretty hackneyed, these two tactics still work pretty effectively. The third thing it can do is come up with more attractive deals. The ones being offered right now are just the basic fries and drink package. They need to sex up these, maybe by including the salad bar option as well.

Now we come to one thing they have done pretty well as far as marketing is concerned. They have created a Facebook page, not only that they have managed to make a staggering 10,200 fans (till the writing of this article) and still going strong. This must be a record for Pakistani restaurants. And this changes the odds in favor of 1one1. The location won’t matter that much if they can woo even 5% of this enormous fan base to their food joint. The owner Jawad Husain Ansari who’s a real estate dealer by profession and lives just across the street from this restaurant has done a tremendous job of not only a fan page but keeping it updated. Another shrewd marketing tactic he has employed is offer the place for TV production which resulted in 1one1 being used by ARY for a scene for their comedy drama Kangal Millionaire. Although as pointed out by one of the fans that the cast is largely unknown, still it give the brand an aura of a happening place. What Jawad has done more is cleverly upload crude videos of the production on the fan page as well as photos. What he needs to do more is create more specialized offers like the one he created for Valentine’s Day. He should have created one for the 23rd March as well.

But why? He has already grabbed 10,000 fans who are commenting like hell on the brand page, so why does he need to do anything more? For the simple and unfortunate reason that a large number of fans doesn’t necessarily convert into more sales. And this is evident from the deserted look the place carries most of the time. We visited the place twice including one on weekend, and there were hardly any customers. And this in spite of the fact that the brand has more than 10,000 fans on Facebook. Where are all these people? When do they visit the place if they are not there even on a weekend night? If even a measly 0.5% of the 10,200 fans (equal to 510 people) could visit the place on a single day, the place would be flooded. And yet it doesn’t happen. So having an effective online marketing strategy is not enough unless you have an real-world marketing strategy to augment it.

So the big question is, would I go back to the place having experienced an almost empty dining area and a slightly stale bun? Yes, I would, because I feel the place is good enough overall for a casual dine-out. In fact I have, and I may visit it again in the future.

But that’s just me. In order to ensure that a lot more people who visit the joint for the first time come back, it will have to further refine its act including marketing strategy.

One on One Restaurant Map
One on One Restaurant Map

One on One Consumerater