In this busy life, where both the husband and wife are working in search of a better lifestyle, eating out has become a prerogative. The family which goes out to have a good time often comes back with a sense of dissatisfaction as most restaurants now-a-day has shifted their focus from quality food centered to a money making enterprise. The other reason for dissatisfaction is the way customers are treated by the waiters. Let alone helping customers having a great time, wait staff doesn’t even wear a genuine smile on their face. When restaurants like these do frustrate customer making them stay at home rather than going out to dine, there are restaurants which bring a bright smile on their face.
There are restaurants which provide quality food, there are one’s that have a beautiful ambiance and set up, and others are popular for the innovative practices followed by them to serve food, their exceptional service, and impeccable design. But Mirchi & Mime is an innovative restaurant based in Powai area, Mumbai, where you get everything under one roof. The best feature about this restaurant is the staff that it boasts of.
Yes, the staffs employed at Mirchi & Mime are specially-abled individuals. All the 27 staffs working at Mirchi & Mime are Speech and Hearing Impaired (SHI) individuals. This restaurant not only boasts of hearing and speech impaired staff but also the fact that all of these 27 wait staff are friendly in nature and make you feel extremely comfortable with their big smile.
Now the most important question knocking at you might be, if the wait staffs are hearing impaired how does one order for food? You might be thinking what difficulties customers may be going through to order the food. But the procedure of ordering food is easy. The menu lists all the food available along with portion sizes and eating paraphernalia like salt, pepper, spices, sauces and even cutlery. Every item on the menu is accompanied by an illustration that shows the hand gesture to be made to order the food. Just to make sure, the dish is served with a placard announcing the name of the dish.
Prashant Issar & Anuj Shah, own this unique 80-seater bar and grill restaurant. Both of them are alumni of the Henley School of Business (UK) where they graduated in MBA. “The core value we learned at our B-School was that, while generating wealth for individuals is important, it is far more important to generate wealth for society as well,” says Issar.
“Both of us wanted to start a business, and as I have been in restaurant business for the past 22 years and Anuj also has experience in the same field, we decided to open a restaurant and then we heard of ‘Signs’ a Toronto which functions on the similar concept, that is when Mirchi & Mime became a distant possibility”, says Issar who is pretty happy with the way things have panned out.
The road to building a restaurant of their dreams was not a smooth one though. The duo themselves were worried whether their plan would turn into reality and whether the restaurant would turn out well. Even though they were skeptical, they did not give up. They thought of giving it a try.
The first roadblock was to communicate with the specially-abled individuals. Initially, they found it difficult to communicate with hearing and speech impaired individuals (SHI) as the duo were using parents of SHIs as a medium to communicate with them. Due to this constraint, the duo felt they could not personally connect with the specially-abled individuals. So to understand SHIs better, Issar & Shah took it upon themselves to learn the sign language first and then directly communicate with the hearing and speech impaired individuals. This one to one conversation helped them understand SHIs better and gave them that much-needed confidence to go ahead and bring their plan to action.
The hearing and impaired individuals who were excited to be a part of this initiative were given an eight-week long training and familiarity program. After this formal training SHIs were raring to go out there and conquer the world.
Once everything fell in place, the ball was set rolling. Mirchi & Mime started functioning from March 2015. In this short span of 24 months, the restaurant has won the heart of thousands of customers who love to dine at the restaurant and are mesmerized by the friendly behavior of the wait staff who make sure that customers have a great time at the restaurant. The success of this restaurant is such big that Issar and Anuj have chalked out a plan to open another set of 21 restaurants where specially-abled individuals run the show.
Issar puts it more aptly than anyone else. “In our company, we employ people for their abilities and not their disabilities.”
We do wish many more restaurants, and business corporations will open up and provide these specially-abled individuals an opportunity to work the same way as any other ordinary person in this world.