From Chennai’s Writer's Cafe, which hires survivors of abuse, to The Trans Cafe in Mumbai run by transgender people, here are 8 such inclusive cafes you must visit.
Whether it’s your beloved coffee spot from college days or the tea shop with your favourite samosas at your workplace, cafes are often sources of nostalgia.
While cafes are profitable for owners and hold memories for you, some in India are going beyond by using their spaces as a platform to promote inclusivity. They are hiring individuals from underprivileged backgrounds, people with disabilities, and those with stigmatised illnesses — offering them employment opportunities they might struggle to find elsewhere.
'Be Limitless': Woman With Rheumatoid Arthritis On Travelling to 59 Countries in a Wheelchair
Parvinder Chawla was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was in school. By 21, she had to rely on a wheelchair for mobility. Despite the challenges, she nurtured her passion and has travelled solo to 59 countries so far.Read more >
Here is a list of inclusive cafes you should consider on your next visit:
1. Writer’s Cafe, Chennai
Run by M Mahadevan, the idea of this cafe came to him when he visited a burn ward through the non-profit organisation, the International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC). In a bid to do something that helps victims of domestic abuse, acid attacks and other such crimes, the Writer’s Cafe was born.
As per The News Minute report, “All the survivors have to go through training at Winner’s Bakery, part of Mahadevan’s chain, where they are trained in all three departments for six months.”
Besides serving hot coffee and delicious food, the place also has 13,000 books for visitors to browse and read.
2. Mitti Cafe, Bengaluru
From freshly baked carrot cakes to delicious coffee served at a surprisingly decent price, Mitti Cafe’s uniqueness lies in its servers, who are all people with disabilities.
Started by Alina Alma as an attempt to give job opportunities to people with disabilities, the cafe currently employs more than 200 people. The personnel are given three months of training before they are sent to work at the outlets.
What started off in a shed-like place now has multiple branches in Bengaluru.
3. Mirchi & Mime, Mumbai
Mirchi & Mime in Mumbai is another cafe championing inclusivity by employing people with disabilities. The servers, all with hearing impairments, use sign language. The menu cards include sign language images, making it easy for customers to communicate their orders using hand gestures or sign language.
As per a report, the eatery currently has a staff of 50 people, and they are planning to “open a chain of restaurants across India to provide employment to at least 500 such people.”
4. Terrasinne, Pune
The menu at this Pune eatery boasts mouthwatering dishes, such as butter chicken, cone tacos and pizzas. However, its true speciality lies in the fact that it is completely managed by people with disabilities.
“We are not an NGO or a CSR initiative. Terrasinne is a business whose model is to promote conscious dining at many levels. It is managed by specially-abled people, follows the farm-to-table concept and keeps no preservatives, additives or unhealthy ingredients in the kitchen,” said Terrasinne founder Dr Sonam Kapse, in an interview with The Indian Express.
All the raw materials used in the preparation of the meals are directly sourced from rural farmers in Maharashtra.
5. The Trans Cafe, Mumbai
In Mumbai, the Trans Cafe is operated by members of the transgender community. According to a report, the cafe was opened with financial support from the Rotary Club of Queen’s Necklace, Rotary Club of Mumbai Inspire, and members of the transgender community.
“This cafe is just the beginning of a lot more employment opportunities that we want to create for transgender people. Our objective is to move transgender persons from begging and sex work to a more respectable and sustainable life,” said Shanta Vallury Gandhi of the Rotary Club in an interview with HT.
6. Sheroes Cafe, Agra
The Sheroes Cafe in Agra, co-founded by the Chhaya Foundation and Alok Dixit of Stop Acid Attacks, is operated by survivors of acid attacks. The cafe aims to provide job opportunities for these survivors and raise awareness about the issue.
The survivors working at the cafe are involved in various aspects of running it, from cooking and serving to managing. The menu at the cafe typically includes a variety of snacks, beverages, and light meals.
The cafe was first opened in 2014 in Agra and now has branches in Lucknow and Noida too.
7. Bambai Nazariya, Mumbai
When you step into this lovely restaurant in Mumbai, you’ll be greeted by vibrant colours and the friendly smiles of the staff. As per a report, “They have pink chai, Pallonji’s sodas in many flavours and the staff dressed in bright floral aprons.”
Besides, being famous for their bun maska and pav bhaji, the place is loved for employing individuals from the transgender community — right from the kitchen to services.
In an interview with The Indian Express, the co-founder Diego Miranda said, “It was my father’s dream to do something for the transgender community. So, I, along with my partner, decided to give life to this idea.”
8. Café Positive, Kolkata
Tucked away in the bylanes of Kolkata the one-of-a-kind cafe is run by HIV patients trying to fight the taboo around the illness.
The brainchild of Kallol Ghosh, the cafe almost did not happen as people were reluctant to lend space to HIV patients. Fortunately, a generous person rented Kallol his garage, and that’s where the cafe opened in 2014.
As per a report, “Besides coffee, the menu also includes a range of muffins, cookies and sandwiches, which are baked by the skilled workers.”
(Edited by Pranita Bhat)