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Cosy eatery ushers in inclusive dining


Kormangala has some of Bengalureans’ favourite eateries. One restaurant that is getting  much public appreciation is ‘Echoes’, located at 5th Block, Kormangala.
Opened in March 2017, it is the second restaurant to be opened under this franchise, the first one being in Satya Niketan, Delhi. This quaint little cafe has a pleasant ambience with brick walls, wooden chairs and lively music and it serves Continental, Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine.

However, what makes it stand out among other cafes is their employees. All their service staff are hearing and speech-impaired, barring the employees at the reception desk and the kitchen. The operations of the restaurant are structured to enable communication between employees and diners.
On entering the cafe, one is provided with a card that reads, “Eat Engage Energize with the cafe managed by differently abled staff”, explaining the concept of the restaurant. In order to avoid any miscommunication between waiter and customer, there is a switch above each table that when pressed, lights a bulb with the corresponding table number. The waiter then arrives with a menu, in which each dish is assigned a code, a pen and a writing pad. The customer then fills in the code, quantity and customizations, if any.

Each table also has about ten cue cards on which words such as ‘fork’, ‘water’ and ‘glass’ are written and can be shown to the waiter to request for the same. “When we started out there were only 5-6 cue cards. We introduced cards showing ‘good job’ or ‘call the manager’ after receiving feedback from certain customers,” says Gaurav Kanwar, co-founder of Echoes.
For some of the more enthusiastic diners, all the alphabets are put up in sign language on one of the walls and if interested, they can learn the signs and can communicate with the staff members using this.

Friends on ‘Motivation’

The restaurant with its unique concept was the brainchild of six friends from Delhi, Gaurav, Kshitij, Shivansh, Sahil, Sahib and Prateek. Modeled around the idea of ‘motivation’, they wanted to start a restaurant with a different theme that could drive people to follow their passion. “Since we started something of our own that we strongly believe in, we wanted to inspire our customers to do the same,” says Gaurav. Having worked with organisations that hire differently abled people, they hit upon this idea for their restaurant.

Although employment opportunities are provided for differently abled, most of them are often employed in back-end jobs with minimal communication, claims Gaurav. “Most of our employees previously worked in monotonous jobs and would have no means to meet new people. This initiative gives them a chance to interact with the people and they are very excited by this prospect,” he said.

Recruitment of staff members is done mostly through internal sourcing. “When we started out in Delhi, we were able to find employees with the help of organisations that were hiring differently abled individuals. But now, the staff themselves recommend friends who can be employed with the cafe,” said Gaurav. In fact, it was the staff in Delhi that helped find interested employees in Bengaluru. Currently, 12 speech and hearing impaired people work at this restaurant. The staff members are required to have certain skills, especially the knowledge of communicating through sign language. They are then trained in the operations of the restaurant for two weeks after which they are given on-floor training and learn by working with the other staff members.

Source:  New Indian Express

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