The striking resemblance between the names Starbucks and ‘Sattar Buksh’ is no mystery — mainly because it is a deliberate marketing tactic.
While the name seems to mock the international coffee chain Starbucks, the presence of the moustache in the branding is the continuation of a new pop culture phenomenon. The moustache is often found outside men’s rooms, barber shops and other places as well such as N-Gents. The large, black twisted moustache, which often sparks the famous Punjabi saying “mooch naie tey kuch naie”, peeps out to the public from the café.
Sattar Buksh is the latest addition to the list of cafes opened up to cater to the insatiable Karachi appetite, which is ready to engulf everything as people reach new heights of desperation in the entertainment-starved, terror-stricken metropolis. The new place has opened up in Clifton Block 4, that is fast picking up as the next swanky lane catering to the discerning and privileged. It has restaurants such as China Kitchen, Hook, Line & Sinker and the newly opened, Monte Cristo. The Sattar Buksh team says it wasn’t their first venue choice; the cafe was supposed to be in another location in Clifton.
The café is a two-partner venture with creative input from another associate. All individuals have prior advertising agency experience. What has been interesting about this place, however, is the name and the buzz around it — whether it is a debate on Starbucks sending an intellectual property violation letter to the owners of Sattar Buksh, or a furor on uplifting the homeless and drug addicts that lay right opposite the restaurant to anyone’s inaction, Sattar Buksh is being liked, shared and commented about on digital media.
PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO/EXPRESS
But it is not just the controversial matter that runs thick on the new place; the café has been catering to full capacity even before the official launch which has forced the owners to rethink their strategy for an official launch.
“We got a lot of sympathy votes as a result of the Starbucks saga,” says one of the owners, referring to a letter they wrote to Starbucks, which accused them of impersonating the brand persona and ‘pretending’ to be the world-famous coffee chain, which they are obviously not.
The café has a tongue-in-cheek feel that combines desi elements with an upscale twist, with a sprinkle of humour and wit that set the menu apart. The interior is meticulously crafted, combining an array of various local pop culture influences, including the beaten truck art. The dishes have names like ‘Topless Besharam Burger’ and ‘Jheenga La-La’.
The same zing, however, seems to be lacking in the food. It may be the result of an overwhelming response much before they officially opened their doors to the public, but there is a serious effort as the owners offer two distinct cuisines — it offers burgers as well as bun kebabs, and gulab jaamuns as well as slices of cheesecake. It is an effort to cater to both the desi and Western taste buds — an amalgamation which is a mirror to the city we live in. But is it confusing the identity of the café?
“It has to offer something to everyone, I want to be able to have my cup of tea and my friend should have his favourite cappuccino,” says the owner.
Unlike other cafes, such as Roadside Café, which offer only desi entrees, and Xander’s, which focuses on more West-inspired dishes, Sattar Buksh stands as a strange mix. While for now, people continue to pour in given the hype of the name and the unique combinations the menu has to offer, it stands the test of time for repeat visits.
The writer is a former print and broadcast journalist who has worked at The News and Geo TV.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2013.