This self help group has steered an all-women restaurant-on-wheels onto Pimpri roads
As a blazing red double decker bus,long out of fashion with PMPML,moved on to the roads in Pimpri-Chinchwad,it drew curious eyeballs both from commuters and citizens. While two-wheeler riders tried to get close to it,motorists peered out from their four-wheelers. The curiosity continued to peak as it moved along. The bus drove up to Bhakti Shakti chowk in Nigdi,where the curtains where finally lifted. It was not a brand new bus testing road-worthiness,but a restaurant that will move around in town and cater to the taste buds of the hoi polloi. Aptly named ‘Swamini’s Meals on Wheels’,the restaurant is the brainchild of Swamini Bachat Gat,a self-help group working in the Yamunanagar area of Pimpri-Chinchwad. This is the second biggest project of the SHG,after a manufacturing unit that it set up two years ago.
Amidst loud cheers and hundreds of smiling faces,Municipal Commissioner Asheesh Sharma inaugurated the restaurant on Sunday afternoon. He wasted no time in rushing into the bus and getting a feel of the restaurant and its menu. “It is a unique project. It is very impressive. Significantly,women are the driving force,” he said while applauding the efforts of Swamini members. The SHG has 156 members,several of whom turned up with their families for the launch.
The restaurant has a seating capacity of 26 – all on the upper floor. The lower floor houses the kitchen,a water facility,a refrigerator and other paraphrenalia. “At any given point of time,there will be six staffers in the restuarant. We are also going to train the driver to do the restaurant job,” said Sulbha Ubale,Shiv Sena corporator and head of the Swamini Bachat Gat.
The bus,which was outdated with the top floor blown away,was bought by the SHG at an auction for Rs 50,000. It was handed over to engineer Bhushan Patil,who runs the Yash Engineering in Chakan area. “The bus was in complete tatters. We rebuilt the whole body and gave it a compact look. There is ample space within it,” he said. The unique feature of the bus,said Ubale,is that it has an elevator facility. “From the top floor,our staffers will not have to rush below to get the food order. The elevator does the job in no time,” Ubale said. The bus was modified at a cost of Rs 15 lakhs. “We have taken a loan of Rs 10 lakhs from Bank of Baroda and are paying for the rest from our savings,” said Swati Muzumdar,a member. Patil claimed that this is a first-of-its-kind project in Maharashtra.The restaurant will initially stay put at Bhakti Shakti chowk for five hours in the evening. “We have sought permission from PCMC to move the bus to D Y Patil College in Pimpri,Indira College in Wakad and two other places,” said Ubale.
As for the menu,it features “finger fries,diet aloo tikki ,veg burger,chicken burger,paneer chilli,chicken somasa and chicken cutlets,” said Sachin Thackeray,who has done his hotel management and will run the restaurant. “We are all geared up to serve the customers,” said Rachna Raut,a staffer.