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La Gravitea, an F&B dining outlet in ‘The Steel City’ Jamshedpur, India gives a distinctive dining experience. It is not only known for its distinguished varieties of tea but also for its initiative to bring inclusivity to the food and restaurant world by hiring the hearing impaired for work. Besides all, it is also considered the first teapot museum in India.
Ashish Duggar owns this tea bar and was the former Vice President of Kohinoor Steel. He is passionate about establishing a food outlet in India. He visits many places to hunt for ideas and this time he comes across a tea bar in Hong Kong. He plans to set up open kiosks across the country to promote varieties of tea in distinctive forms and flavours. During the establishment of the kiosks, he comes across a customer’s sister who talks about the challenges of the hearing impaired in getting a job leading to an inclusive business model. On the spur of the moment, he planned to expand his service from kiosks to set up a tea bar.
La Gravitea is considered to be one of the most sought eating outlets in Jamshedpur which serves almost 120 international varieties of tea. These teas are brought from different countries like Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. This includes regional specialties as well as imported teas like Sencha and Matcha. It offers a variety of foods from many cuisines, from Mexican to Italian. The restaurant features a welcoming, friendly ambiance with warm lighting and cozy seats. There are numerous options for starters, entrées, desserts, and beverages on the menu.
There is a teapot-shaped wall clock. Duggar purchased a Victorian-era moustache cup in Kolkata, as well as a sizable number of teapots, including some fantastically retro models shaped like vintage sewing machines, typewriters, and book stacks. His newest acquisition, a porcelain teapot from Cambodia that is 4 feet broad, 3 feet tall, and weighs 250 kg, is the pride of his collection, though. He recently received this, which he bought on a vacation to Phnom Penh last year. In addition to being a great photo opportunity for La Gravitea’s visitors, this teapot brings his total collection of teapots to an amazing 115, not including the one that is inked on his arm. He hopes it will be the beginning of India’s first teapot museum, providing visitors with one more unique experience.
At present, La Gravitea is managed by 11 employees out of which 10 are hearing impaired. Out of the 10, 8 are women who have already achieved in different arenas. Though skillful they lacked financial independence. Duggar by providing them with opportunities not only made them self-reliant but also made them part of a productive workforce contributing to the country. There are a few initial hiccups at the beginning of this business model. One of the stumbling blocks faced by Duggar in employing them is convincing their parents that their children can work irrespective of their disability. He also convinced himself that he can make them work. The employees used sign language to communicate. Though Duggar didn’t know sign language he learnt over the course of time. They picked up all the aspects of operating the outlet like a cakewalk.
Duggar observed a quick response from the customers being satisfied by the hospitality and cooking of the young hearing-impaired employees of the place. La Gravitea is planning to set up cafeterias in Ranchi soon, at the airport and railway station with the sole purpose to employ differently abled girls and empowering them in the process. As delighted by the success of his first business venture Duggar also plans to establish new cafés outside of India.
It’s significant to note that Duggar not only employs young people with hearing impairments but also promotes a “No Honking” program. In addition, he has been running ‘KhamoSheWithLife’ (for the hearing impaired community worldwide) since 2017 with a Cash Prize of US $ 400. This is the unique yearly event by an Indian startup that empowers and allows the hearing impaired an opportunity to display their expertise in a variety of fields.Thus, La Gravitea is proving the hospitality industry’s concern for people from all walks of life.