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People’s Choice Café in Hyderabad welcome all, irrespective of their orientation

Strong support Hephzibah and Adam

Strong support Hephzibah and Adam

Hephzibah Smith is gabby. She bares her soul and does nothing to hide the tough life she led as a kid. Her business partner, Mohammed Adam is a man of few words. Without mincing his words, he declares that he will stand for what is right and society’s opinion doesn’t matter to him. Hephzibah belongs to the LGBTQI community and Adam (as they call him) is an ally. Together they started People’s Choice Café where everyone is welcome.

It is not everyday that one finds a restaurant where the usual sounds that rule the morning are pressure cooker whistles. The only thing that makes the humble 40-year-old single-storied building (housing the café) in a nondescript lane in Sainikpuri stand out is a random splash of colours all over — the black plastic painted compound walls sport multiple neon paint splatters and sprinkles. Inside, there is a small stage for live-performances. The backyard, with its seating arrangement, is quite attractive and the first floor is getting a retro theme done up to suit Adam’s preference for retro music.

Personal choice

People’s Choice Café (PCC) is hardly a few months old and both Hephzibah and Adam are happy with the response. Like many struggle stories, PCC came to light last month as the world celebrated June as the Pride month.

It was founded after Hephzibah witnessed rude behaviour meted out to members of LGBTQI community in Bengaluru. “I saw people being shooed out for the reason that everyone felt that same sex people should not hold hands. Two girls holding hands or two men hugging doesn’t make them homosexual. At the same time, even if they are, how does it bother the restaurant?” questions Hephzibah.

She worked as a bartender at Taj Westend in Bengaluru for a year till she saved enough money to start something on her own. “I wanted a place of my own that would welcome all, where they can be themselves and enjoy a good time with their friend/companion. While I had this concept in mind, I didn’t know where to start. I still hadn’t revealed to my family about my girlfriend. Finally when I did, I only had my mother standing by my side. Luckily for me, Adam who was in my culinary school was ready to partner with me in the business,” she says.

Friend and support

It didn’t bother Adam that his business partner is bisexual. “I will support her because everyone needs support to be able to believe in themselves. After I started working with Hephzibah, I have become more aware about the LGBTQI community and the support they need from us,” he says with pride.

Though the two studied culinary arts in the same college, they has never actually interacted until Hephzibah approached him with her business proposal. “At college, I saw her honesty, dedication and determination to do what she wants, so I shook hands without a second thought,” he adds. So far People’s Choice Café offered mostly a pop up menu everyday, and the guests loved it. The two business partners however, want to introduce a steady menu now. “We plan to begin breakfast on weekends soon,” says Adam.

For now, the duo, along with a friend, run the day-to-day chores of the restaurant, which includes pulling out weeds from the garden and shovelling and laying soil for a flower-bed. “Nothing beats building a place and doing it up on your own, from scratch,” smiles Adam.


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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 5:13:57 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/peoples-choice-cafe-hephzibah-smith-mohammed-adam-sainikpuri/article28547842.ece