A matter of pride: Bengaluru’s first food truck run by the LGBTQIA+ community

                                <h2 id="story-summary-0">Pride Café, an initiative of the Solidarity Foundation, builds safe workplaces for LGBTQIA+ people while serving delicious food</h2>
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                                        Sasha graduated in hotel management in 2016 and dreamed of working in the hospitality industry.  However, when they stepped into the industry, they were quick to remove the banners of privilege and prejudice to deny and discriminate the space Sasha gained due to their queer identity. 

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“I loved the job, but I didn’t feel safe. So I had no choice but to quit,” says Sasha. Last year, Sasha joined the Solidarity Foundation, a Bengaluru-based organization that has been supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and sex workers for over two decades. Coincidentally, while assuming the role of documentation officer at the Foundation, there was talk of a new Pride Café in Bengaluru, a first for the city, she said. For Sasha, this was a “golden opportunity”. Today, as the truck manager of Pride Café, a recently opened LGBTQIA+ food truck run by members, Sasha is back to doing what they love, but this time in an environment where they feel safe and respected, and that changes everything. difference.

Pride Café is an initiative run by the Solidarity Foundation in partnership with WeWork, Amadeus, and AGAPE Hospitality Consultants. It is based on the idea of ​​creating sustainable livelihoods for LGBTQIA+ people while creating a sense of community. A mobile truck came into play when it was understood that the passion for food had overcome gender barriers. After training in cooking, hospitality and customer service skills, eight LGBTQIA+ individuals took charge of the first food truck at the WeWork Galaxy, Residency Road, Bengaluru, after a long struggle to accommodate IT parks across the city.

The cafe was opened on January 9 by drag artist Alex Mathew, popularly known as Drag Queen Maya, and renowned theater artist and actor Arundhati Nag. “We have had great support from organizations in Bengaluru. Agape took over the hospitality part and helped us design the menu. Aravani Art Project illustrated the live food truck,” says Project Leader Rekha G.

What used to be a streetside tea and coffee stall is now a sprawling food truck, employing LGBTQIA+ people, and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to gourmets in an IT park. “Interactions with people are important to us. It’s fun working at the food truck, everyone is happy to serve great food and have good conversations,” says Sasha, who runs the food truck and manages sales.

Rekha explains that dropout rates are often high when a new project starts, but this time it’s different. “Everyone is excited to come to work. Because customers have been very supportive. While they are constantly comforting the staff, they try to wait if there is a rush, and even leave cute notes such as ‘thank you’ and ‘love is love’ on the invoices. People go the extra mile to create a welcoming environment.”

It is also a workplace where members of the LGBTQIA+ community can be themselves. “They can interact with a large group of people in an IT park without concealing their identity or behaving in a certain way due to the lack of acceptance they face. It’s a big and positive step towards creating healthy work environments for the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Rekha.

Rekha says Pride Café is the first of many. They plan to open two more by March and employ at least 20 people in total. The foundation is also discussing a parallel initiative, a tiffin service, a request from cafe customers. “With this inclusive and innovative approach, we want to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for society. And we will do this by breaking gender barriers through conversations and visibility and promoting awareness through sensitization,” Rekha explains.

It’s hard to see what the dish can do, Rekha adds. People are becoming more conscious of being inclusive in their language and approach. “One of the customers came to us to ask if it would be possible for the people who run the cafe to wear pronoun badges so that everyone can address them with the correct pronouns,” Rekha says.

Pride Café has exceeded its targets by completing more than 400 orders in the two weeks since its launch. The menu includes Indian, Continental and Italian. Ask them about their favourites, and both Rekha and Sasha immediately proudly gush about it.

Sasha says, “Kadak adrak tea is the star. We do at least three batches every day. I recommend the sandwiches like the chili cheese. Dal makhani is a must try.”

Price for two: 300

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