A cheerful young man with a 100 watt smile welcomes us as soon as we enter the Echoes restaurant in Bangalore’s Koramangala, on a bright Tuesday noon. In a sign language, he asked me the number of people accompanying me to accommodate a table. As I promptly replied 2 with my limited sign language skills, he escorts us along with my photo journalist to a table and hands over a colorful menu along with a writing pad. Here I have to tell you something! The menu is fully scribbled like a homework book, for example No smoking here please, No alcohol is allowed, Different food pictures, Smiles’ and monkey like cartoon figures. The all-day menu at Echoes is vexingly lengthy, 15 pages of Indian, Chinese and Continental food.
This restaurant ‘Echoes’ has pleasant and beautiful scenery which engulfs the earthy vibe into it with wooden bricks and stone interiors all coming together. All tables are wooden and neatly polished, the most interesting thing is that all the chairs don’t match, but work well with the vibe created. From the cranky foldable steel chairs to cushioned wooden chairs typically seen in our government offices, the varied seating lends to the relaxed vibe of the place. There’s a tree made out of wooden planks right in the middle of the café, and this adds the beauty and is the centre of attraction to the restaurant.
Before we delve into the food, we must talk about what really makes Echoes stand apart. All their staff is speech and hearing impaired and the whole cafe is designed accordingly. If you need to call a waiter, there’s a switch above each table that lights a bulb with your table number on it up. There are cards that say ‘Water’, ‘Bill’, ‘Fork’, ‘Call the Manager’, ‘Napkins’ and other basic things that diners are likely to ask for. Everything on the menu book has a code for each item, which you can then write down on a notepad along with the number of quantity you require to place your order. The whole staff is highly trained and it’s a lovely personalized experience.
I’m soon joined over by Girish, owner of Echoes, Bangalore. The 23 -year-old now guides me through the special arrangements in his unique restaurant, which is mostly managed and run by the people with disability who are Deaf and Mute. So let’s get started! To know more about this restaurant and its Background I started interviewing Mr. Girish.
- Who started this restaurant, how did this idea occur and how long have you been in this Resto business?
- One day, I along with my friend Karthick happened to meet Naresh, a speech and hearing impaired person in a cafe, who was forced to switch jobs owing to his disability. That’s how we got an idea of starting something where people like him could be the majority, and don’t feel like the odd one out. For broken crayons still color,” he says recalling karthick’s words. On contacting the owner of the cafe where Naresh worked, he learned that there is a restaurant in Delhi, which is run by PWD “I got in touch with them and found that they had plans to expand and hence, we went ahead and set up this space here in March 2017.” The Echoes restaurant chain has seen a remarkable growth in just two years of operation. Started in 2015, Echoes had only about four to five specially-abled staff members when it began. The number now stands at an encouraging 50, with 16 of them working in the Bangalore branch alone.
- Q) What does your Restaurant do to keep your menu new and exciting? Do you prepare your own masala’s from the exotic taste or buy the Ingredients from outside? Is the Chef also a PWD person?
- R) For every 6 months we change the menu accordingly, And add the new items from all the streams of foods. No, we don’t make our own masala’s , We buy our ingredients from outside only. The chef is a completely a normal person who cooks tasty food which is liked my millions of people.
- Q) We all know service is the main Key to success in a Resto business. How do you motivate your staff to keep a constant service ethic? What things you do to keep your staff motivated and healthy to work?
- R) Yes coming to that point! I appoint a personal paid trainer for these people who undergo 2-3 sessions per month to enhance their learning and service abilities to accommodate today’s generation of people. Our staff is trained in technical field also!
All our staff members will get bonuses in period of times, allowances like food, accommodation, travel and they are allowed to take tips from the customers too!
- Q) What kind of marketing strategies you follow and have worked for you? Did you team up with the online food sources like Swiggy, Zomato or any other means?
- R) The only strategy we followed till date is that we tied up with Zomato online and that was a plus point too! As many people are searching for restaurants online in which Zomato stands first and people give good reviews which attracts many news customers here every day and the rush on weekends is unimaginable sometimes exclaims Girish!
Even we are in Dine In also which is a means of growth where people can reserve the place before coming here.
- Q) What are some of your experiences which you specifically want to share with us? And what are the hottest and best selling items in your restaurant?
- R) Every customer who comes here goes out with a broad smile and feels joyful inside their heart. So once there was a customer who blindly came into this restaurant, who was confused and began shouting at the service people, then I began to tell him about the restaurant calmly and then he was cooled and later he apologized for his act.
Hmm… Coming to the dishes the best selling dishes are mainly North Indian thallis and milk shakes during every time of the year. And Sizzling Brownie is the best selling dish in dessert corner.
- Q) What is your restaurants turnover every year and what is the maximum and minimum salary given to your employs in the restaurant?
- R) Our restaurant is almost crowed in weekends and successfully runs in all the days and season of the year. Contributing to nearly 25lac per month i.e.3 cores per year. The Average salary given to our employs is 15 thousand to highest 35 thousand per month.
- Q) What are some of the tips you want to share for anybody who wants to open a restaurant business?
- R) Some of the main tips which I would be giving are that:
- The Place must be maintained clean and the ambience must be well taken care off.
- The daily check list should be strictly followed, don’t skip it!
- We must be friendly with our staff always and cheer them.
- Increase their salary or give small bonuses in period of times to maintain a successful restaurant business.
- Last but not the least is be regular to your job even if you are the owner, worker or any other person related to the work.