Mirchi and Mine, a restaurant that empowers the differently abled.
“The moment I grabbed their menu, I realised that it was a restaurant that employees special people from our society. One learns sigh language of each and every item…” says Yajur Mahendru in a review of the restaurant of the popular website, Zomato.
Another review by Pooja Malhotra on the same website reads, “Now when it comes to the staff, they have hired people who are the most special people god has gifted to this planet. None of them can speak and hence they communicate via actions. When you have a look at their menu, you will find out the signs of communication as to how you wanna talk to them and give your order. With two best signs of “Thank you” and “Welcome”, we were impressed…”
When we talk about Mirchi and Mime, it is not just a restaurant run by differently abled people but also a place where you get good food.
The place does not run on sympathy – it has a pleasing ambience and smiling staff. However some might find the dishes a bit overpriced.
So how do you order if the staff is specially challenged?
Along with the name and price of every dish on the menu there are hand gestures that one has to imitate to place their order. It is simple, have a look at the picture alongside for better understanding.
The place was started by MBA graduates from Henley Business School in UK, Prashant Issar and Anuj Shah. They came up with the idea during a chance meeting in 2014 and by the end of the year they had founded Squaremeal Foods Private Limited. They have a vision of creating a chain of 21 restaurants across India.
They were inspired from a restaurant in Toronto named, ‘Signs’. They interviewed candidates who were speech and hearing impaired, along with their families which gave them an insight into their world. These interactions showed them that these candidates possessed three natural qualities the hospitality industry needs – smile, focus and intuitiveness. They also had a few challenges to face like confidence and skill.
To beat the challenges the candidates were trained for 8 weeks in association with Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, NASEOH and Rochiram T.Thadani High School for the Hearing Handicapped. Two people, Clyde & Ranjan from their team spearheaded this programme.
Post that they put together a team of two young chefs, Sameer & Dipesh and a renowned chef Manoj Vasaikar stepped in as their culinary director.
Minnie and Misbah from Minnie Bhatt Design took care of their designing needs.
In April 2015, they were ready. They began a trial run by inviting friends and family.
During the trial run, a guest asked for some extra chutney. When the server served it into his plate, the spoon clanked with the plate and made noise which the server couldn’t hear and the guest could. The guest, who did not get irritated by this said that this was when he became sensitised towards people who were different than him.
Since then, the restaurant has been doing well.
This place is a beautiful concept that not only gives employment to those who are different but also makes the society sensitised towards their needs. How about putting this restaurant on your ‘Let’s Check It Out’ list? Let us know how your experience was should you try it out!
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Photos: mirchiandmine.com, zomato.com