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For a restaurant customer to experience perfect hospitality, the person serving the food should be focused, intuitive and smiling. Hearing and speech-impaired individuals have all these qualities. Based on this ideology, a cutting edge restaurant serving Indian food has been established in Powai, Mumbai. Here, food is served by speaking and hearing impaired individuals.
Mirchi and Mime is the first restaurant in India in which the entire service team comprising hearing and speech-impaired individuals. The concept is altruistically changing the culinary landscape in the country. The food menu for ordering is designed in such a way that customer is not required to know the sign language. With an illustrated menu in the hand, diners can simply point and indicate the number of portions. An easy-to-follow gesture glossary is also appended to the menu for diners to indicate other eating accoutrement like cutlery, crockery, salt, pepper, spices etc.
Prashant Issar and Anuj Shahstarted a company with a vision of opening a global chain of restaurants. They have two primary values:
1. Integrity and commitment is more important than capability and skill.
2. It is important for businesses to generate wealth for the society in addition to generating wealth for the individual.
They found two investors who were impressed with their values. The investors had seen a video on Facebook about a restaurant in Toronto, Canada which employed speech and hearing-impaired individuals. The investors really liked the idea and suggested Prashant and Anuj pursue this concept, promising to invest in the restaurant. Prashant and Anuj agreed to it.
On the back of the t-shirt worn by employees it is written, “I know sign language, what is your super power?”. This shows how this restaurant is helping employees build confidence. Apart from that, different abilities of their employees have helped the business to grow. Initially, owners of this restaurant had to visit colleges, institutes to recruit speaking and hearing impaired individuals. Now they get them from within their own peer group. As the organisation is growing, more and more people are anxious to join it.
Any social cause needs a proper business model to sustain. Hence this restaurant is all about business first and then social cause. Within a year, owners of this restaurant opened a second restaurant, "Madeira and Mime" nearby with a similar concept. In addition, the owners are trying to scale this concept further with a total of 21 mime concept restaurants with the next one also in Mumbai, the fourth in Bengaluru and one each in Dubai, Singapore and London, along with other Indian cities by 2018.
The benefits are found in all 55 speaking hearing impaired young boys and girls working in Mirchi and Mime and other restaurants of same owners. Initially, these young people were dependent on their family for their livelihood but now they have stable incomes and have became self sufficient. In some cases, they are the ones who now are taking care of their family financially. Mirchi and Mime is giving them a platform to show to the entire world that they are more capable than they are perceived to be.
Prashant Issar, Co-founder