Will Latte Lounge become the next Copper Kettle?
Latte Lounge Rustic Café and Bakeshop is a ‘CK-esque’ type café that serves you an amalgam of sheesha, burgers, pastas and steak while doubling as a bakery as well.
The fact that it has remained below the radar for so long and yet continues to exist says something about its resilience. Located at the obscure Nishat Commercial Area with not an eatery in sight, Latte Lounge couldn’t have chosen a worse place to open shop. At night, the whole street gives the aura of a ghost town. Grillers in the Mist is the only other restaurant nearby and even that has opened up only recently, while Latte Lounge has been around for about five years.
We visited the place in the evening on the 2nd day of Eid and the place was doing brisk business at that time. The three-in-one strategy (Sheesha/bakery/diner) is working great for the place.
Although from a branding point of view, this is a bad ploy – offering everything under the sun – given the location of Latte Lounge, it’s actually working to its advantage.
Latte Lounge is a strange little place. There’s no proper layout to the place. You’ve got the sofas, chairs-tables and the couches, not to mention a ‘takht’ as well, all arranged haphazardly around the joint. There’s nothing baroque about the décor. What Latte Lounge has tried to do is emulate the typical American home – the use of bricks, predominance of wood especially the floor panels – all this and more reek of the American Dream.
What we particularly liked about the place was the dim lighting. Most of the cafes have the tendency to literally flood their joint with lights. Not Latte Lounge. And no it’s not pitch dark either a la Purple Haze.
We tested three of their offerings: Smothered Steak Burger Rs.395, Chicken bbq panini Rs. 460, Jalapeno cheese burger Rs.385.
Jalapeno cheese burger was scrumptious. However, the patty didn’t taste all that fresh. Tasted like it had been frozen for a couple of days before seeing the fire of the grill. It goes to their advantage that they still managed to pull it off loaded with jalapenos, cheese and a fat juicy patty.
Chicken bbq panini was good but a disappointment compared to the other two. For one, it was too small compared to the other two and almost a hundred rupees costlier. On top of that there was no coleslaw. And if that wasn’t enough, fries were replaced by onion rings.
It would have been better if they had used onion rings with the burgers, if they had to be used at all. The advantage with fries is that they have a universal appeal as well as the ability to satiate your appetite at no great cost.
At the very least, the option of fries ought to be offered with the panini.
We considered testing one of their desserts as well but when we found out that the ice creams used in the dessert was Igloo instead of one of their homemade ones, we decided against it.
No use spending a couple of hundred bucks on a branded ice cream you can have for less than Rs.50 in the market.
They really need to come up with their own versions of ice creams if they want their dessert section to have the ability to lure the crowd. Copper Kettle’s success had a lot to do with the enigmatic Caked Alaska with its sumptuous ice cream than any other single factor.
One good thing worth mentioning about Latte Lounge is that the GST is included in the menu prices, what this means is that the value for money is far better than any place on Zamzama or even the emerging food street of Shahbaz.
Another tempting feature is the offer of free ice cream with any of the main entrées, although a scoop of Igloo doesn’t sound very tempting.
In fact that’s not the only special deal on offer. You buy two appetizers and get the third one free. Brilliant marketing tactic.
Latte Lounge is always in the thick of things – offering something or the other- ensuring that the brand is in a constant state of motion. When it rained, they turned even that disastrous event into an opportunity, offering a deal tailor-made for the rainy season.
And all these deals are intimated through their Facebook page, which is yet another success story. Having an astounding 28,000+ fans, Latte Lounge is fully capitalizing on the power of social media.
Its Facebook page is created with pagemodo and has all the bells and whistles, making use of such varied apps as goso and autobudder to create birthday packages, loyalty cards, graffiti option for the fans, and a whole host of other options to engage and involve the target audience.
The page is always abuzz with some news, mostly announcements of viewing of English Premier League matches. The page also carries numerous superb pictures of customized cakes and cupcakes that Latte Lounge offers.
In short, Latte Lounge has left no stone unturned in keeping its customers engrossed, whether through screening of sports events, special deals or customized desserts.
One thing that becomes clear from all the people active on the facebook page as well as those frequenting the joint is that Latte Lounge is geared towards the youth.
As such it wouldn’t be a great idea to land at the place with your family. Just go there when you want to have a good time with your friends.
In spite of its shortcomings, we did like Latte Lounge and are definitely going to test its main entrées the next time around.
As to the million-dollar question about Latte Lounge filling the void left behind Copper Kettle, there are too many nostalgic moments associated with CK especially for the generation that grew up in the 90s to be able to do that. Then there are too many cafés vying for a share of the market for any single one to be able to hold his own. Copper Kettle had the competitive advantage of being the first and the only one for a long time that it was able to firmly etch itself in the prospect’s mind.
However, Latte Lounge is fast endearing itself to a niche community of youngsters and if it continues to follow this strategy to the hilt, very soon it would have cultivated a crop of brand evangelists that could take it to the brand pinnacle.
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