Cafes are modern forms of historical coffeehouses established for eating, drinking and hangouts. The English name café came from French which also derived from the Turkish word, kahve that means coffee. Earlier such eateries only served coffee. But today in the postmodern century cafes have turned into a more inclusive world. Today cafes not only deal with coffee and customers but comprehend different lifestyles.
The trending concept of cafes
The movie titled “Coffee Shop” (2014) starring Laura Vandervoort, Cory M. Grant and others directed by Dave Alan Johnson described the struggling story of a young coffee shop owner Donavan (Laura Vandervoort) and her emotions attached to the shop. She was a sensitive and very hard working woman who felt that coffee shops are not just food corners but a spot where people can come and spend some quality time with their friends. Though the movie featured only coffee and tea, it beautifully presented the idea of the extensive world of modern cafes meaning more than food corners. Nowadays all the cafes are attractive places for cappuccino, chocolate items, variety of drinks, sandwiches, pizzas, wraps, etc. Customization of almost every item is also done by the attendants. Apart from the availability of variety of foods cafes in India have also started to employ members of acid attack survivors, physically challenged, underprivileged section and others. Undoubtedly they have proved themselves as the most efficient and customer friendly attendants. Recently pet cafes have also become popular among millennials. The recent versions of cafes generate certain forms of ideas which inspire humanity, equality, entertainment, fun, stress relief, interaction and lots more.
Inspiring a new hope
Located in a tiny lane of Agra near Taj Mahal is the Sheroes Hangout Café. It was established in 2014 and run by acid attack survivors. It was started with the initiative of an NGO called Stop Acid Attacks who attempts to associate the survivors with the mainstream society. The brave fighters of life serve delicious food and are very popular among tourists and customers. Besides food they also sell paintings, craft works and organize regular workshops. This is the world’s first café chain run by the women acid attack survivors. This initiative instills confidence and hope in the hearts of these women. They have outlets in Lucknow and Udaipur but are planning to open other outlets in different parts of the country.
Another café named, Café Toto of Kolkata has orphans, disabled persons, victims of domestic violence and others less privileged as their employees. They are inspired with a new hope of life by providing them with training in English, communication, cooking, IT skills, etc. All of them are aged between 18 and 24. It is open 2-3 days for lunch and also offer home delivery services. They are operated in cooperation with NGO Tomorrow’s Foundation and the French NGO Life Project 4 Youth.
Quite close to Sheroes Hangout Café of Agra is the Writer’s Café of Chennai. Started by M Mahadevan this café employs burn survivors and teach about culinary arts. Mr. Mahadevan decided to pursue this idea of starting a cafeteria after his visit to the Prevention International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC). The café runs in a tie-up with PCVC and the positively spirited employees (mostly women) work with dignity and determination. The corner is a well designed Swiss bakery in Chennai.
Everyone is special in their own way
There is a common saying that “everyone is special in their own way”. There a few cafes which literally bring out the exact meaning of this phrase. The Mirchi and Mime of Mumbai is a place where food speaks the language of heart. The staffs of this place are hearing and speech impaired. The customers point out their choice of food from the menu and enjoy the food. Both the co-owners Prashant Issar and Anuj Shah were inspired by the staffs of a Toronto based restaurant.
Similar to this there’s another one called Echoes located in Topsia of Kolkata. This café arrived in Kolkata after Delhi and Bangalore. This one is also managed by the deaf and mute persons who are extremely pleasing and customer friendly. There’s a switch that keeps hanging over each table and the customers press the switch for giving a call to them. There are a few written cards placed at the table with which the visitors communicate with the staffs and the food order must be written in a piece of paper by the visitors.
The next one is Cafe ICanFlyy run mostly by special needs adults. This is located in Ballygunge area of Kolkata. The staffs are very friendly and can go to any level to help their visitors. They are indeed very helpful. The table where one would sit consists of a card telling the customers about who would serve them in that particular table and a little is written about the staff. There’s also a ‘tip’ jar placed at the counter which doesn’t ask for money but compliments to bring a smile in the face of the staffs.
Discovering vision within darkness
Apart from the specially-abled staffs, survivors there are cafés which are managed by blind persons. Such a type of restaurant is the Taste of Darkness located in Hyderabad, Telangana and Bangalore. All the employees are either blind or visually challenged. They have proved that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Without the eyesight they have discovered the path of light in a very different way.
The Kalakkal Café of Kotturpuram, Chennai is run by the Vidya Sagar NGO. The notable features of this café include menus available in Braille format and a seldom hangout spot for the disabled to spend their leisure moments in a fruitful way. This place has become a trendsetter for others to follow.
Productivity in confinement
Included in this list is the Tihar Food Court in New Delhi. It was started as a rehabilitation effort by Tihar jail authorities. Here the food corner keeps those inmates who had a good conduct in their prison life and are trained with cooking skills and baking. They are taught serving under the program of “from talent to employment” by a close enough hotel management school. This place has been arranged with wooden tables and is decorated with paintings made by the inmates. There are no guards to keep the employees under surveillance and they work in a free environment serving everything including delicious sandwiches, samosas and vegetarian thalis.
Coexistence of Humans beings and animals
Apart from maintaining the quality of good food and lovely ambience, the Cat Studio Café of Mumbai, Puppychino of New Delhi, Wood House – The Pet Café and a few more food corners are taking the café culture to a different level. These cafes are not only pet friendly but also a place of stay for the animals like dogs, cats, birds and others. Besides spending time with the extremely lovable non-human friends, the visitors can take their own pets to some of these places. A few pet cafes also allow people to adopt the animals which are happy to get a home. Many people spend their time with these cute animals for stress relieving. All the pets are well trained and extremely friendly to the visitors. With increasing awareness on social equality cafes are also finding new forms. The innovative ideas of café culture definitely fill the hearts with enthusiasm and warm feelings beyond just food cravings. The ideas inspire new hope, productivity, aspirations and many more positive vibes. Sometimes a few cafes create bonds between the people sharing same thoughts while others inspire humanity and support for one another. In this context, the worth mentioning ones are Seva Café of Bangalore and the Pappadavada in Kochi. The former continues on a basis of ‘pay-it-forward’ system. The Seva Café is managed by volunteers who prepare food and serve to the customers that have been already paid by the previous customer. They welcome everyone who are interested to join their humble and extremely pleasant initiative. The Pappadavada restaurant serves the underprivileged and the homeless by placing a fridge contained with food packets which is accessible 24 hours. The people donate food in the fridge from across the town to help the drive and everyday in this way the food reaches dozens of people. The social service was started by Minu Pauline, the owner of Pappadavada and the “nanma maram” (fridge) which means “Tree of Goodness”.