Updated: January 15, 2016 12:55:50 am
In the far corner of the bustling Satyaniketan market, lies Echoes — a small, inconspicuous cafe. It sits amid the many new eateries that have opened shop recently. However, it’s not just another restaurant on the block; it’s managed by staff who are deaf and mute.
“There are a couple of quick-service restaurants who employ differently abled employees, but traditional restaurants with more elaborate menus don’t employ them, especially in jobs that require customer interaction. We believe that like everything else, serving customers is a skill that can be taught. Serving them well though is something that has to come from the heart,” says Kshitij Behl, 22, one of the owners of the cafe.
Themed around the concept of “motivation”, Echoes is the brainchild of five friends, all in their twenties. “Everyone is selling the same food, at the same price in the same area. It all sounded boring. We wanted a challenge, we wanted to serve good food, but we also wanted to start something with heart. Everything just fitted together in the end,” says Shivansh Kanwar, 22, who manages the service operations at the restaurant.
The owners have devised a clever process to minimise errors. “Listen with your eyes, talk with your hands, that’s the mantra for everyone in the cafe,” says Kanwar. When you toggle a switch at your table, it lights up a bulb, which alerts a server that he is needed at a table. The cafe has a specialised menu with individual codes for over 150 dishes. “We give the customer the menu, a notepad and a pen. He can write the code for the dish he wants and the way he wants it, tear the sheet and give it to the server,” says Behl.
Cue cards at every table read ‘Water please’, ‘Bill please’, and ‘Call the manager’, which makes communication with staff efficient. With the entire sign language spelt out prominently on the cafe wall, the more enterprising can even attempt conversing with the staff .
Launched barely a fortnight ago, Echoes serves the regular fare of pizzas, pastas, wraps and rolls at economical prices, but the experimental can opt for dishes such as waffliza (pizza on a waffle base), the pink pasta, mac n cheese cutlets (deconstructed macaroni and cheese) and Hyderabadi style penne. The no-wine sangria is another crowd-pleaser.
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