Wandering about Gardens Galleria mall, alongside Great India Place opposite sector 18 NOIDA, we saw these large ads for Kenny Rogers Roasters. The ads showed these large, plump, roasted chickens sitting alongside boats of (probably) flavourful gravy and colourful and (probably) fresh and delicious salads. Oh my! We couldn’t wait to visit on a Sunday and have a roast chicken meal together. After all, the perfectly roasted chicken is such a rare creature. Rarer than we thought.
On our first visit to Kenny Rogers Roasters in NOIDA, we asked for Kenny’s Wholesome Meal, enticingly photographed as plump, juicy, roasted birds with bowls of tempting sides and muffins and what have you. This was to take 45 minutes, which even though quite unreasonable for a restaurant that does just that – roast chicken – we accepted and returned only to find a dry, scrawny bird that was overdone a good 10 minutes in the past. It looked nothing like the pictures and wasn’t even a whole chicken as shown in the ads. Our sides were uninspiring and the muffins were dry. Nonetheless, knowing the restaurant had just opened and may have teething troubles, I resolved to visit again, later. After all, I’m sure they knew they were delivering a substandard product and given that the outlet was a franchise of an international brand, monitoring mechanisms must be in place. I left detailed feedback and looked forward to my next visit.
We visited again in a few months, this time splitting our lunch order into a bowl of soup, a couple of quarter chicken meals, some pasta, some muffins and some sides. The soup was prepared using a premix, their ‘ghost chilli’ dip was a farce as they hadn’t used naga mirchas, the mashed potatoes came from dehydrated potatoes and the chicken, as before, was overdone, dry and an absolute disaster. The pasta too was made using pre-mixed ingredients and fell just short of being inedible. The gravy was made using pre-mixes as well.
Basically, apart from the birds, there’s nothing fresh made at Kenny Rogers Roasters – everything comes from packets.
Speaking with the manager and confirming my observations about the premixes and dehydrated potatoes, I asked if by any chance they were using Indian birds with original cooking times and temperatures. I was sure the answer would be resounding denial. After all, that’s localisation 101 – tweak the settings specified in the standard operating procedure using local produce until the resultant output meets the brand promise. Nope, not the experts at Kenny Rogers Roasters. The manager confirmed they’re (stupid enough to be) using a cooking process designed for large, plump birds, on our local, skinny hens, without any localisation! But, let me not be unfair. The experts probably spent a long time studying the local environment before ‘localising’ the Kenny Rogers Roasters menu with… paneer!
We exist at a point in time today, when the customer literally has hundreds of options to choose from, with dozens of venues offerings specials at any given day of the week and perhaps double that on weekends and where most customers have exposure to best of breed products and for most part, know what they want. Why oh why would you want to screw with your brand by taking the customer for granted? Gone are the days when canned food was considered special and pre-mixes made us feel ‘international’. No sir, we want real soup made with real stock. We want real potatoes not the powdery mass that tastes like a mouthful of moist sawdust. If you’re saying you use bhoot jholokia, be honest and actually use the stuff. Yes, we can make out you’re using the wrong chilli.
But most of all, when a customer has visited twice and has had a bad experience both times, and has categorically told you so, and left a bunch of food untouched, don’t be a chump and bill the poor bugger. Offer a discount, throw something complimentary into the pot, do something. The folks at Kenny Rogers Roasters obviously believe their customers ought to do the adapting bit. Not only did we not see even a semblance of regret, freebies being a mile away, I had to specifically ask them not to bill me for the bowl of soup I had discarded after 2 – 3 bites.
Given how most restaurants and restaurateurs are raising the bar these days, one rarely encounters bad food; just food that one doesn’t like. Kenny Rogers Roasters and their management however appear to believe they’re operating a couple of decades ago when businesses called the shots and consumers had no choice but to toe the line and accept whatever substandard crap was dished out by businesses and brands. They have consciously chosen to try and mislead customers with grossly inaccurate ads and in return delivering a product that falls woefully short of even being acceptable. Times have changed guys, really. You’ll either need to pull up your socks or get ready to pull the plug in a short while.
Unless you like seriously inferior food, I suggest avoiding Kenny Rogers Roasters and visiting any other place in town or even buy and cook frozen stuff. It is likely to be better.