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Olivetto’s Iftar Deal

Olivetto, the brainchild of Afroza Bhamani, is the latest addition to Karachi’s fine-dining foodscape.

Olivetto’s foray into the Ramadan iftar deal bandwagon in its very first year is a mixture of buffet deal and a la carte. While it’s far better than the other iftar platter + main entrée + dessert combo deals like the one offered by Fuchsia, it falls far behind the ones offered by veterans like Hobnob Café, Arizona Grill and Roasters. Even Necos‘s iftar deal although slightly expensive than Olivetto, fares better than Olivetto.

When we say it’s better, the major reason is that of the diversity of items on offer. Not only any item, but main entrees. For instance, Necos is offering its main entrées, each item worth over Rs.500, as part of its iftar dinner buffet. Same goes for Hobnob Café, Arizona Grill and Roasters.

Olivetto’s buffet is confined to Iftar items only: chana chaat, fruit chaat, samosa, jalebi, pakora, dahi phulki, sandwiches, khatta aaloo – the usual suspects. However, it has tried to innovate a bit with the addition of falafel, hummous, baba ganoush, moutabel and pita.

Olivetto followed the brilliant marketing acumen of ‘Under-promise over-deliver’ to the hilt by offering a single slice of pizza and a glass of soft drink that wasn’t mentioned on the menu. What’s more, the slice of pizza was brought individually to the table and not kept on the iftar buffet table to ensure that people didn’t take it for granted.

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What’s more, it was hot, fresh and scrumptious, showing that Olivetto really put the effort to get it right in spite of the fact that customers weren’t even expecting it. Simply brilliant.

In addition to this, there was a bottle of mineral water served as well which again wasn’t mentioned. The only drinks mentioned were tea and rooh afza. It seems Afroza Bhamani knows a thing or two about marketing.

Yes, they could make this strategy even more brilliant by offering a second round of pizza and drinks. Judging by our satiated appetites by the items on offer, we don’t think many people would opt for the second helping let alone a third one, but the goodwill this simple gesture would generate would be tremendous.

One thing worth noting here is that even the two types of sandwiches on offer were not part of the menu and were in fact part of the ‘over-deliver’ strategy. In order to ensure that people don’t take these sandwiches for granted, Olivetto would do well to serve the sandwiches separately just like the pizza.

While the roast beef sandwich was just okay, the chicken grilled sandwich was simply divine.

The fruit chat although refreshing was just another chat. Olivetto could definitely have sexed it up by including as many seasonal fruits as are available these days instead of just the rudimentary essentials. What’s more they could have made a cream fruit chaat! Now that would have given the customers something to cherish and the competitors  to think about since fruit chaat is one area no one pays much attention to.

Baba ganoush was delectable. Hummus we felt was a bit of a let down in the sense that the tangy taste of baba ganoush was present in it as well.  There are numerous ways of preparing the hummous and one of the most common ways is sans the tanginess. Here when you’re already offering one sour salad it makes sense to vary the taste of the other one.

The pita bread served with the iftar was in the form of long narrow strips and strangely hardened to the point of being crisp. However, the one served with the main entrée was hot and soft.

Apart from this iftar menu, Olivetto offers two different platters from which you can choose one. One they call the house platter and the other Mediterranean platter.

Both the platters comprise of a main entrée with a sideline thrown in for good measure and a dessert. However, there’s not much choice within the two platters. Once you choose one of the platters, you’ll have to go with the fixed items on the menu.

The Mediterranean platter comprises of the following:

  1. Lamb Chops and Beef Kabab or Samak Harra
  2. Shish Taouk with lemon and coriander sauce
  3. Vermicelli rice
  4. Om e Ali or Crème Brulee

We tried both the lamb chop version and samak harra version (you could choose only one in a platter).

Samak Harra is a Lebanese chilli fish. It is basically Sautéed fish fillet topped with garlic, cilantro, pureed tomatoes, onions and spicy seasonings, and sometimes sprinkled with toasled pinenuts. The Olivetto version was scrumptious.

Shish Taouk is a common Lebanese dish that comprises of grilled chicken skewers  marinated in olive oil, lemon, parsley, and sumac. While every other restaurant these days is offering this delicacy including BBQ tonight, the shish taouk at Olivetto far outweighed the rest of the competition. The biggest difference was in the quality of the meat itself and the way it was prepared. The chicken pieces were not only succulent; they literally melted in your mouth. Normally the chicken you would find in shish taouk at most Pakistani restaurants is rough and dry. What’s more, lemon is an inherent ingredient of shish taouk which almost all pakistani restaurants fail to incorporate. At Olivetto what you get is a rare gem.

The lamb chops were delectable as well. Maybe a bit over-marinated to offset any smell that is associated with lamb meat, but worth digging your teeth into.

For dessert, you could either go with Om e Ali or Crème Brulee. We tried both.

Om e Ali is an Egyptian dessert that contains phyllo dough or puff pastry, milk and nuts. There’s no rule as to what nuts to use, and we felt that Olivetto went a bit overboard with the nuts and all. It was too rich a dessert, but if that’s your cup of tea, then you’re going to love it.

Crème brûlée also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is a strange dish, with sugar sprinkled on top of the custard and caramelized with usually a butane torch.

Although the custard base can be flavored with pretty much anything including chocolate, orange and coffee, at Olivetto it was vanilla flavored and served cold. Although we couldn’t get through it, having stuffed ourselves already, it was pure heavenly bliss. And if you yearn for your toddler days, the semblance of Cerelac taste in this french dessert is sure to give you a jolt of nostalgia.

The House Platter comprised of :

  1. Penne Arrabiata
  2. Chicken with mushroom sauce or pepper steak
  3. Gratin/mashed potatoes in sauce
  4. Roasted vegetables
  5. Italian bread pudding with ice cream

The chicken with mushroom sauce that we chose over pepper steak was simply divine.

The Penne Arrabiata however was mediocre.

The roasted vegetables were done sparingly. If you like your vegetables to be a bit raw, you would enjoy it.

The mashed potatoes with sauce wasn’t anything to write home about either.

The Italian bread pudding with ice cream was sumptuous, with the quantity enough to satiate your desire.

Although both the platters are enough to satiate your appetite especially when you take into account the iftar items and the pizza, on the face of it, it looks like you’ve been duped. Maybe because the menu claims it to be a platter and what you’re presented with is a solitary plate with all the items advertised bunched together.

Maybe they need to change the wording, removing the word ‘platter’, or if they continue to use it, rearrange the items to appear more expansive.

Although the service was generally good, one minor irritant we felt was the over-eagerness of waiters to leap to our table at every opportunity to pick up the plate irrespective of whether they were empty or not!

There’s a very thin line between being too attentive and too ignorant and the staff ought to be taught about the right timing.

Olivetto may have become relatively popular but the fact that it was completely deserted (once the Iftar deal was over) on a Saturday night ought to be a cause for concern. Maybe people were present in one of their private dining rooms but not a soul was in sight in the main hall. Maybe they need to constrain the liberal use of their private dining rooms so that customers have nowhere but to use the main hall. Unless there are sufficient people in a party, use of private dining room shouldn’t be allowed. If they don’t put a check on this practice now, pretty soon what they’ll have is an empty dining hall while everyone would be sitting smugly in their private rooms. That would not augur well for the brand one bit.

Olivetto’s tentative foray into iftar deals is quite good but if Olivetto is to compete with the likes of  heavyweights Hobnob Café, Arizona Grill, Roasters or even Necos, it will have to delve into the iftar dinner buffets big time.

N’eco’s Natural Store & Café Iftar Deal

N’eco’s Iftar Deal Rs.1343 inclusive of tax and service charges.

8-C- Lane 1, Bukhari Commercial Area

Phase 6, D.H.A.

Karachi, Pakistan.

Tel: (92-21) 3-584-4517 | E-mail: [email protected]

N’eco’s Iftar Buffet Menu:

  • Aaloo Samosa
  • Aaloo Roll
  • Pizza
  • Dahi pulki
  • Chana chaat
  • Fruit chaat
  • Chicken sandwich
  • Pepper Steak
  • Pasta in Tomato Sauce
  • Cumin Chicken
  • Beef in oyster sauce
  • Chicken wings in bbq sauce
  • Mexican chicken
  • Necos fish
  • Seafood Al-Forno
  • Plain rice
  • Tiramisu
  • Chocolate cake
  • Cup cakes
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Kheer
  • French Toast
  • Custard
  • Lassi
  • Imli Juice
  • Lemon lime
  • Cucumber detox drink

N’eco’s Natural Store and Café is a novel concept in Karachi’s foodscape. Nestled in the midst of pimp habitat and infamous spas in the obscure Bukhari commercial area (DHA phase VI), Necos is an ultra-niche café fixated on natural and organic products. It won’t appeal to everyone’s olfactory sense and it hasn’t tried very hard to do that. Until now.

It’s a fairly small café with hardly enough accommodation for roughly 30-35 people.

Although Necos is only a year old, with chips broken from wall edges, it seems that the place was being used for some other purpose and that it wasn’t renovated properly when Necos management took over.

Necos Iftar deal will not be able to hold a candle to the likes of Roasters, Arizona Grill or even Lal Qila and Village both in terms of variety and value for money, but it does offer unique varieties worth having a go at.

Nilofer Saeed, the owner not only of Necos but also Hobnob Café and Hobnob bakery, was seen schmoozing around right off the bat, playing the proverbial hostess. It looked as if she knew pretty much everyone present. It also points towards the fact that Necos has a very specific clientele who return and keep the café running. Obama needs to take a leaf from her book if he stands any chance of getting re-elected.

What’s more, contrary to other restaurateurs, Nilofer Saeed was happily devouring her own delicacies along with the others, showing by example that she herself is the biggest brand evangelist of Necos.

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One of the biggest flaws we found with Necos Iftar deal was also one of the simplest. For a café having the brand essence of being in line with nature and then going ahead and serving lemonade made from the packaged Limopani is definitely not on.

How much would have real lemons cost Necos? It’s all the more ironic because they also served one of their fresh detox juices which was flavored with herbs and cucumber.

The Imli juice tasted more like vinegar drink and didn’t appeal to our senses. Then there was the chilled lassi as well. All in all the drinks section was covered pretty well contrary to Necos’ contemporaries who are content with serving a miserly glass of lal sherbet.

The chicken mozzarella pizza was delectable. The thing commendable about it was that the entire crust was loaded with mozzarella with the chicken pieces interspersed in just the right balance instead of being stuffed. Nilofer Saeed had also done well to keep the  pizza coming in small quantities right from the oven as well as keeping the plate on a small burner to ensure the ‘Al Forno’ effect.

The beef steak with pepper sauce had to be the best of the lot. But it’s no wonder considering Nilofer Saeed’s prior expertise with steaks at Copper Kettle. Of course those who prefer the rare or well-done steaks are going to be disappointed, because the pepper steak was just about medium but the beef tender enough.

Cumin chicken was sumptuous, a concoction where the herbal condiments of Necos were felt in all their glory.  It comprised of grilled chicken breast topped with roasted cumin sauce. Cumin (Zeera) actually is a small plant of the parsley family whose aromatic seeds are used for flavoring purpose. Strangely enough, the true taste of zeera didn’t come through, which was a good thing.

The chicken wings were the worst of the lot. The crime? Stale foul-smelling chicken. In fact the smell was so strong that even the strong sauce couldn’t stop it from pervading your senses.

Lesson: It’s better to serve one item less if that item has the potential to be your undoing.

Necos fish seemed to be another entrée accentuated with herbs and stuff to the extent that the real taste of the fish was lost in between. It comprised of fillet of sole, pan-fried and served in an Asian style yellow-curry sauce. Maybe a bit toned-down version would do the trick. Not that the entrée wasn’t palatable.

Seafood Al Forno was an interesting concoction of shrimps and fish. In cooking, al forno is an Italian phrase describing food that is “at/from the oven”. What’s more, it is usually used for pizza, bread and pasta.

In this case Al Forno phrase didn’t make much sense as the entrée didn’t appear to be ‘straight from the oven’ by any stretch of the imagination.

Mexican chicken, a sort of a chicken chilli was remarkably mediocre and looked like to be a filler item rather than any worthwhile entrée. Here again grilled chicken breast was used immersed in what they claimed to be spicy Mexican-style sauce.

Pasta with chicken and tomato sauce may not compete with the high-end pasta varieties but surprisingly scrumptious.

Beef in oyster sauce had the most peculiar of tastes, with the beef coming across as if it had been overcooked.

Desserts overall were disappointing. And the major reason for that wasn’t just the lack of variety but the lack of fresh products on offer.

To begin with, both varieties of cupcakes although appealing to the eyes were downright stale beneath the façade. Same goes for the humungous chocolate fudge cake with cream sandwiched in between that you could just devour with your eyes. Unfortunately not with your mouth, because your taste buds instantaneously told you that the cake had seen better days.

We didn’t try the Tiramisu but have a feeling it wouldn’t have fared any better than its chocolate sibling.

The saving grace was the chocolate mousse and the French toast with whipped cream and banana.  Their forte was their freshness which came out refreshingly in each bite.

We tried neither kheer nor custard.

Although a total of 48 dishes were being advertised by Necos, 26 dishes were on offer for the deal.

We feel Necos could do a whole lot better by offering more specialties from their main menu in the Iftar deal. One particular entrée conspicuous by its absence was the crepe. Crepe are not only cost-effective but they would add another dimension to this iftar deal.

We also feel that Fettuccine Alfredo would serve much better than the simple pasta with the tomato sauce, adding prestige to the buffet menu.

Also Crispy Fish which is deep-fried fish fillet and comes with sautéed vegetables and tartar sauce is a much better choice than Ne’cos fish.

The second improvement needed is that of freshness, especially that of the desserts. If any of the items is not fresh, it’s far better to avoid serving it, even if that means curtailing the menu. By now they should have a fairly good idea of what customers love and thus adjust the quantity of each item accordingly.

All in all Necos iftar deal is fair enough viewed in the context of their normal menu prices.  Go for it only if you’re looking for something different from the mainstream buffet bandwagon and are not concerned about the number of dishes or the value for money.

However, if you fancy a buffet loaded with artery-clogging concoctions, this is not the place for you.

Necos is finally spreading its wings, aggressively promoting itself on KarachiSnob. However, it’s torn between focusing on its organic retail products and its café offerings. It would do well to divide them into two different sections, placing emphasis on each one at a time. In short a rethinking of their branding strategy.

Kahva Cafe and Grill

Kahva café and grill located just on the outskirts of the Sindhi Muslim Food Street has been around for the last several years. How it has managed to survive all these years is amazing considering the fact that you would hardly find it buzzing with people. Not that it wears a deserted look every time, but it just doesn’t have the appeal to make crowds throng to it just like Roasters or even Nandos a few 100 metres away from Kahva do.

Kahva has all the ingredients of an upscale café, the ambience, the upholstery, even the prices. The dining hall has the perfect blend of lighting something which so many upscale cafes and restaurants fail at.

And yet it is not pulling the sort of traffic that its brethren Roasters is. To be fair, Roasters had the brand essence already established via its Zamzama outlet, so the consumers thronging the place already what they were getting into. Roasters also had the competitive advantage of being owned by Nadeem Raja, the owner of already famous Arizona Grill who knew how to make a restaurant successful.

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Kahva on the other hand had to start from scratch. On top of that, the name doesn’t exactly exude the image of a sophisticated suave café. The most you would associate with the name Kahva is a swanky Shisha bar. And Kahva doesn’t even offer Sheesha. It does, however, offer numerous coffee options, from Mocha to Latte, the complete works.

Just like Roasters and in fact most of the eating houses on that strip, it is located on two floors. Both floors are styled on the pattern of a lounge with sofas and all. There is of course the conventional dining table arrangement also incorporated into the scheme. The aesthetics of it all is right up there with the very best.

What Kahva is lacking behind in is the core product- the food. Not all, but one of the items that we tried- something which is common and sure to be tried by most of the people coming to the place – was totally horrendous. Called the Biccacio sandwich, it was supposed to be made of chicken cubes marinated in herbs and spices and served in freshly baked oregano bread along with fries and coleslaw. Priced at a whopping Rs.345, the sandwich was, to start with, just below the average size. In fact if you compare it to what you can get for pretty much the same price at Roasters, it can aptly be called tiny. And remember that GST is charged in addition to the price. So the actual price of the sandwich is a mind-numbing Rs.407.

The size, sadly, wasn’t the only thing wrong with the sandwich. The description belied the ground reality. Instead of being marinated with herbs and spices, the chicken cubes seemed to be inundated with tomato sauce. Again nothing wrong with that if the sauce itself was palatable which it wasn’t. The coleslaw that accompanied it wasn’t upto the mark either. The only saving grace was the fries, both in taste and quantity.

Two of the other items that we tried were, thankfully, the complete opposite of this torrid experience. The Alfredo Fettuccini, a special pasta made with mushrooms, chicken and a garlic cream sauce was simply divine. Priced at Rs.390, the quantity was also just about right. Yes, the chicken pieces could have been a few more but it doesn’t matter that much. The garlic essence in the sauce was not overdone which some restaurants are prone to do.

The jumbo prawns in peppercorn sauce served with garlic rice were sumptuous. Priced Rs.545 they were at par with the Roasters and Arizona Grill’s offering. The only glitch was that the shell wasn’t removed and that spoilt the mood a bit working on that.

One mind-boggling we found at Kahva was that the soft drink was priced at Rs.75. Add GST to that and it comes out to be a staggering Rs.88.5. If you were lounging at a five star hotel and paying this much premium on an ordinary drink, it would make sense. Here it is nothing short of mind-boggling. The only rationale we can come up with is because the place is a wi-fi hotspot and has plasma screens installed, people come to enjoy the ambience and order a soft drink for that privilege. So Kahva is charging the premium for sitting around in the soft drinks.

But they need to at least reduce the rates for those who’re already having a meal there, or better still include the drinks free of cost in the meal. It’s not a big deal but it would help to boost the brand loyalty.

Kahva maybe a good place to dine out, but being good alone is not enough to prosper as many restaurants and cafes have found out the hard way. Kahva will need to ensure a decent turn-over to be able to succeed in the long run, considering the cut-throat competition it faces in the neighborhood.

One thing it needs to immediately implement is offer lucrative meal deals especially on its snack category, because the few people who came in while we were there went for that option. The most popular deal on that food strip is buy one, get 50% off the second one. It could go for that option, or any other option, as long as it is attractive enough to lure the consumers in and then works its magic on them to keep them for life.

Roasters Burgers UNcut

Roasters’ Burgers are the biggest you’ll ever see in this part of the world. You’ll notice these humungous objects from far off as the waiter approaches with them. It doesn’t get bigger than this. And if you can’t satiate your appetite with one of these, then you need to get your stomach examined.

We tested two of their fast food offerings- Caesar Chicken Sandwich and Chicken Bacon Royal. Funny thing is, even if you order a sandwich, it invariably comes out to be a burger as in the case of Caesar chicken sandwich.

The chicken Caesar sandwich, well, if you’re into mild stuff, you’re gonna love this. It’s devoid of any strong essence. Just your crunchy romaine lettuce entwined with a healthy slab of very mildly grilled chicken with a price tag of Rs.395. We would have recommended this meal as a diet had it not been oozing with mayonnaise. Overall a very subdued offering, but enough to satiate your appetite.

The Chicken Bacon Royal Burger’s description promises to give you a heart attack, what with golden crisp chicken on top of which sit bacon strips and mushrooms and even garlic mayo. We went for that option but were disappointed not to get a heart attack. Reason being, there’s still ample room for improvement (read filling). The chicken patty was a bit too thin, and the bacon strips could have been more generously stuffed, especially at a hefty price of Rs. 395. Nevertheless it’s good stuff to sink your teeth into.

Chicken Bacon Royal
Chicken Bacon Royal

The fries content was more than sufficient in all meals.

However, it’s the lack of coleslaw or some other worthy sideline like garlic sauce that is the main drawback of

Roasters’ burger offerings. On the face of it, it may not appear to be that big a deal, but when you consider that all the competitors are offering  generous helpings of either coleslaw or garlic sauce with their burgers, you need to wake up to that reality.

But it’s not the real reason that Roasters should start offering these sidelines. The thing is, the Pakistani consumer got spoilt by the earlier snack-walas who started offering these delicacies along with the main entrée, and the trend was continued by their successors.

The result: whenever a Karachiite orders a burger no matter where, he always expects something extra other than the main attraction. And if he doesn’t get that extra stuff, no matter how delicious the burger, he always feels disappointed that something is amiss.

One other major reason especially for

Roasters is that since their buns are gigantic, the patty inside sometimes is unable to compete with it for size, which essentially means that some portion of the bun is invariably going to be empty.

Now, if you’re not offering any pasty sideline, what is the customer going to dip his empty bun into?

Pizza Hut came with the novel solution of filling the crust ends with either cheese or sometimes even seekh kabab, and that strategy proved to be quite successful. While

Roasters can’t offer that option, it can certainly make do with the earlier solution of coleslaw.

And that is the only real shortcoming of

Roasters’ burgers. Otherwise they are the very best you’ll find in town at a price that is pretty competitive.

Roasters Coffee House & Grill- Riding High

Roasters started out as a coffee house but then popular demand by the regular clientele forced the owner Nadeem Raja to introduce main entrées into the foray, as revealed by him to Mahmood Nanji on the program Success Stories.

With time, Roasters has morphed into a full-fledged restaurant with the coffee business confined to a mere sideline option.

If you’re familiar with most of the upscale restaurants in town including Roasters, you will notice Roasters has an uncanny resemblance to one particular joint. In fact most of the items on display are identical. That place is Arizona Grill and the reason is both joints are owned by Nadeem Raja.

Wouldn’t that lead to cannibalization of sales? To an extent, yes. Fortunately, they are not located that close to each other, although all the four joints are in the same locality, two at Zamzama and the other two at Bahadurabad and Sindhi Muslim Society.

The most similar dish and probably the best item on both restaurants’ menus is the Battered Fried Shrimp. Heavenly stuff, these shrimps.  The surprise element was the price. At Arizona Grill, this dish costs almost Rs.600 whereas at Roasters it is priced less than Rs.500! Talk about brand premium. There’s literally no difference in the taste, quantity or even in the presentation, apart from the garlic sauce that is served with Arizona version but is absent in the Roasters version.

Roasters- Battered Fried Shrimp

There are of course, differences as well. Crepe is one of the specialties of Roasters but nowhere to be found in Arizona Grill.

The quantity, well, Arizona Grill fares a wee bit better on this aspect than others.

We tested five of their main entrées, and found their sumptuous factor to be remarkably high compared to their contemporary restaurants. The Onion and Pepper Chicken was the worse of the lot, and even that wasn’t all that bad. The chicken itself wasn’t badly done, there was the strange sprinkling on top that spoiled the whole dish.

The chicken waffle is a bold dish for two reasons. One, waffle is not something that is known amongst the Pakistani consumer, let alone be popular amongst it. Secondly, waffle is mostly used as a morning or evening snack; on top of that it is slightly sweet. Our consumer may have become accustomed to the red-sauce sweet-and-sour chicken and prawn and what not, getting used to waffle may take time or may not happen at all. It’s bound to become popular only if more and more eateries start serving it.

Roasters- Chicken Waffle

The Roasters’ chicken waffle was alright, nothing extraordinary. We felt that the waffle itself could have been done a whole lot better. It should have been soft but was quite hard.

The solitary beef burger on the menu was not only tasty but humongous. It ought to satiate the appetite of even the ‘healthiest’ of eaters.

The two crepes that we tried were simply divine. Even the now defunct Crepe Factory couldn’t come up with this level of’ scrumptulicious’.

The pasta was the second best thing on the menu, with just the right amount of spices and herbs used to accentuate the flavor.

Both the joints, Zamzama as well as Sindhi Muslim Society, were checked out and the ambiance, service and food were found to be remarkably uniform. Service was good enough, although at the Sindhi Muslim outlet when we ordered different forms of potato with different dishes, we got only the French fries with each one. Minor glitch.

The privacy factor could be jacked up a bit, although it’s far better than others of its kind especially at Zamzama.

It’s marketing strategy is a little bit subdued. They have come up with the standard lunch deal which most of the upscale restaurants are following diligently – buy one and get the other at 50% off. However the way this promotion is presented at all restaurants including Roasters – “50 % off Lunch Deal”, it gives the impression that you would only be required to pay 50% on your total bill. A bit deceptive, especially since the actual deal doesn’t offer that much of a difference in the total bill.

Why? Many reasons. For one, the GST is not included in the waiver. Then the deal is valid for only the main entrée. Any appetizer or dessert you order will be charged at full price. And the biggest of all, you need to order even number of main entrees to be eligible for the meager discount. If you order 3 or 5, only one dish would be eligible for the discount.

And herein lies an opportunity for some shrewd restaurateur to tinker with the terms of the deals and make it more attractive than what the rest of the bunch is offering. How?

Include even the starters and desserts within the deal. Then if a customer orders three or five dishes, offer a 25% discount on the odd one out. And if someone is bold enough to order seven dishes, how about the eighth one completely free? These small measures have the potential to tilt the level playing field in the favor of the restaurateur who implements them, that is if, someone is bold enough.

A great opportunity which almost all restaurateurs fail to take advantage of is offer tantalizing deals on the slowest day, which for most is Monday nights. Gun Smoke is one shrewd place which is offering Eat All You Can deal on a Monday night although the deal is a bit too stifling. Then Aqua Lounge is offering a Crab Buffet on Monday night. Although not a bad idea, but who would have a crab-only buffet on Monday of all the nights, and that also for Rs.1000+ tax?

That’s literally creating a barrier for anyone even remotely interested in that deal. So what gives?

Your deal has to be too good to be true, yes it has to be that irresistible, even if it means you don’t make any profit on it. After all your purpose is turn the slowest night into the fastest one, to make sure that the place is thronging with people and people are falling over each other to get their hands on that deal. What this would do is stir a commotion and spread like wildfire. No one to date has been able to conjure up this sort of hysteria on a slow night, weekend yes but not when the going is tough.

Coming back to Roasters, apart from this one deal, there’s no deal, advertising or brand awareness strategy by them. All the branding endeavors are internally driven. They don’t even have a Facebook page which is a major shortcoming considering that almost the upscale joints maintain a regular presence there, interacting with their customers, offering new deals and basically just keeping in the thick of things. It’s even more bizarre since the sibling brand Arizona Grill does have a major presence on facebook with more than 12,000 fans.

Although there’s a group by its name, it’s probably created by a fan and doesn’t have much to offer, not even the menu.

All in all, Roasters has done tremendously well to rise up to the first-tier upscale restaurants from being a mere coffee shop, competing with the category leaders, leaving even the parent brand Arizona Grill behind.