Cafe I Can Flyy is a wonderful place where young adults with special needs are nurtured in a loving environment. When I came to know about this cafe, I was moved by the awesome work and amazing effort behind this initiative. Let’s meet the founders of this cafe Minu Budhia and Preeyam Budhia and get to know more…
Q) Hello Minu and Preeyam, would you like to share with us all what inspired you to start this cafe?
Minu Budhia – “”Don’t imagine it. Do it”. Keeping this motto in mind I have created a sheltered workplace where special individuals may work with dignity and confidence. It is time we gave them the place they deserve in society.” The café ensures that our twinkling stars shine bright by not only being able to lead a life that brings them joy, but also developing skills that may help them to become gainful employees and budding entrepreneurs. When my younger daughter Prachi who is a special child, was growing up, it was my nightmare that what will she do when she grows up.
Preeyam Budhia – It is our dream to make their impossibles possible and their unachievables achievable”. The ICANFLYY Food Factory has been around since the time ICANFLYY started, taking baby steps with the packaged products. “We also took part in every prominent exhibition. The products would sell out. That was a good starting point. We are also doing small catering orders and home delivery for customized cakes. The kids had really picked it up. That gave us the confidence that we could open a café. This café would really build their social skills. They will take the orders and interact with you. You have to go and pay at the counter and once you are back, then they will serve you. Ever since I moved back to India, I have been dying to do something in the F&B space. A café with a cause is great.
Q) A few details about the initial days of your cafe please ..
Initially we were quite skeptical if Kolkata was sensitive enough and ready for a cafe run by special needs but we were taken by surprise from Day one and the city of joy reassured us why it’s called so! Our wholehearted aim and goal is to break the stigma and stereotypical mindsets of every person who walks into the cafe and raise awareness about the capabilities of special needs gifted individuals!
Q) Tell us about the special needs adults working in your cafe.
Our special café crew presently comprise the following special needs individuals:
- Prakriti: Smart, sweet and a perfectionist at heart, Prakriti is a young lady who loves baking and serving desserts.
- Komal: With a smile that could light up a thousand light bulbs, Komal enjoys greeting guests and taking them to the best seats in the house.
- Saloni: Sweet and sassy, Saloni is a young lady who greets and serves all cafe guests with a bright and cheerful smile.
- Uditi: A bubbly young lady who talks nineteen to the dozen, Uditi enjoys making, recommending, and serving pizzas.
- Abhishree: A stylish and smart young lady, Abhishree loves to welcome guests and show them to the quirkiest seats in the cafe.
- Anshuman: Courteous, quiet, and charming, Anshuman is a young man who enjoys making cupcakes and handing over the menu.
- Aakash: Courteous and always smiling, our barista Aakash makes a mean cup of coffee. He communicates in sign language.
Q) What is your menu and how involved are these young people in the preparation of the items?
The cafe is a cozy, quirky, colourful space with indoor and outdoor seating and a varied menu, so one can catch up with friends, have a quick business lunch, enjoy high tea, or unwind after work. The food – seasoned with love and support, a sprinkle of faith, and a dash of confidence – will tantalise your taste buds while the rich, aromatic coffees serve up the right kick of caffeine you need. You can also pick up healthy, pocket-friendly, ready-to-go snacks. Some of our most popular items are our hot chocolate, our cutting chai, our BBQ Spicy chicken poppers and our signature desserts – the Caprese & the Bavaria.
Our students help in the prepping and packaging of our Food Factory items. Our pizza bases and nachos are two of the most popular cafe items made in-house by them. The Jhalmuri & Roasted Chidwa are another two very in-demand packaged items our students make.
Q) Are they involved in other duties too like serving, cash counter, etc.
Yes. Our special cafe crew members greet the guests, hand them the menu, and serve the food. Our barista is hearing impaired.
Q) How has the experience of training and working with special needs adults been for you?
Q) Tell us about the various events you conduct at your cafe.
Free WiFi, Board Games, Karaoke are three things our customers can enjoy on any day the cafe is open. It can also be booked for private events, and we’ve had quite a high number of birthday parties and kitty parties here. There is no smoking, no shisha, and no alcohol, so the cafe is kid-friendly and family-friendly. We have also added a new play area for young children so parents can bring their kids here for play dates, an evening out or family day out. In terms of specific events, we look at the cafe as a creative space that promotes talent, so we’ve had live music events (western, Indian, classical, bollywood), open Mic nights, art workshops, storytelling events, and much more.
All events we have done so far and are planning to do are updated on our cafe fb page: https://www.facebook.com/CafeICanFlyy/
Q) How instrumental has your cafe been in spreading awareness about special needs?
We think we’re doing as much as we can to spread awareness. We’re breaking barriers and making an impact by destroying myths surrounding the capabilities of special needs individuals. One of the primary goals of the cafe has been to show that special needs individuals need to be respected for who they are and what they can do when given a chance. The media coverage and the love we’ve received on social media platforms have helped to spread the cafe’s story, thereby spreading awareness about special needs individuals to many homes across the length and breadth of the city and beyond.
Q) Would you like to share your future plans with us?
We are currently expanding the current cafe premises to include a play area for young children so that young parents can enjoy their catchup with friends while their kids are busy at play! Currently, including outdoors and indoors, we can seat 32. We’re looking to increase the seating capacity, start weekend breakfast and also extend the cafe timing to include dinner eventually.
We have been approached by a bunch of people to take on franchises in different cities in India. Let’s see what and where we end up next!
Q) Your advice to parents planning to start a cafe like yours for their loved ones?
Be ready to work 24×7 for a long, long time. A cafe is quite an undertaking. It not only requires passion, drive, the investment of time and money, but also a talented, empathetic team with excellent core skills, so choosing a good crew is very important.
Its really inspiring to meet the people like them who rise above their problems and tackle them headon by looking for ways to solve the problem. We need more and more initiatives like this in our country. God bless you Minu and Preeyam Buddhia and all the beautiful souls working in your cafe. May you grow and prosper!
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