International food chains: Little pots of gold
KARACHI: English author and essayist Virginia Woolf once said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Pakistanis, obsessed as they are with food, seem to be sharing the same line of thought as they keep bringing in global food and dessert chains to the delight of the epicureans in the country.
Last year was a culinary treat to many, with many international chains take for example Noodle House, Tutti Frutti — coming to Pakistan and keeping up with the trend, 2012 kicked off with the launch of another global frozen yogurt chain; Snog.
How did it all begin?
Frozen yogurt took off in the market in the 1980s reports yogenfruz.com. However, it took 30 years to come to Pakistani and the 2012 is slated to be the year when froyo is expected to take off. The latest brand to come to Pakistan is Snog by Irishman Rob Baines and Columbian Pablo Uribe. The duo know where the money is at and have 13 years of experience running a coffee house in London, after which they pooled their resources and creativity towards forming a froyo place. The Express Tribune speaks to the two young men about bringing international franchises to Pakistan.
Were you apprehensive about coming to Pakistan?
No, we weren’t apprehensive at all. Everything that we’ve done so far has been out of the box and when Sara Gheewala (the franchise owner for Snog in Karachi) approached us a year-and-a-half ago, we had no clue how business would work in Pakistan but we believed in her and visited Karachi. We absolutely loved the city, and said yes without further ado.
Wouldn’t it make sense (some would argue) to open up a franchise in a place that is familiar with the concept of frozen yogurt rather than a completely new market like Pakistan?
Froyo is now what the coffee house business was 10-15 years ago. The world has changed a lot. It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re in the first world or the third world. The world is so connected with social media and it’s much more exciting to be in this part of the globe where markets are developing and the population is young and dynamic. Besides, Pakistanis do use yogurt regularly in their meals and our observation, with our branches in London, has been that many Asians like having frozen yogurt later at night for a healthy treat.
What are you taking back from Pakistan?
Apart from beautiful scarves for our family, we’re taking back a lot of warmth and generosity. Unlike people in the West, Pakistanis have the time to speak to you and are genuinely interested in what you have to say. They are also very intellectual, well-mannered, conservative yet very open-minded.
Rob Baines and Pablo Uribe’s food guide to Karachi
Hot & Spicy Kabab Rolls: our absolute favourites!
BBQ tonight rooftop: It’s quite an experience and the food operation there is impressive with its organisational structure and busy kitchen that is open to all.
Good biryani: As long as it’s spicy, it’s good!
Gulab Jamun: This rich khoya-based dessert melts in the mouth with sugar syrup oozing
Rasgulla: Made essentially from sweetened milk, it’s one of the most popular desserts in Pakistan
Gajar ka Halwa: Made from carrots and milk, this is a must-eat dessert in Pakistan. Although it can be eaten both warm and cold, we prefer it warm.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.