HYDERABAD : Picture this. You’re waiting for your ride in the hot sun at a busy crossroads. You’re hungry, sweating and also need to use the washroom. This situation might turn any day into a bad one. But now picture this. On the sidewalk you find a hygienic and chic little construction that comprises a cozy cafe with affordable refreshments, impressively neat air cooled, bio washrooms and even an ATM in case you run out of cash. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Well, not anymore! LooCafe, a first-of-its-kind initiative by Ixora FM brings to Hyderabad, disabled and women-friendly washrooms, which will be open to the public free of cost.
It has it all!
An initiative supported by the GHMC, LooCafe is now open in HITEC city opposite Shilparamam in a humble 170 sq feet space. As humble as the area sounds, the tiny block of construction on the busy road is anything, but simple. LooCafe consists of a small cafe kiosk that serves snacks and beverages below `30. Walk towards the side of the cafe and you’ll find a wheelchair ramp leading into a washroom designed for the physically disabled. Then there are two washrooms, one for women and one for men.
Women’s washrooms consists of a sanitary napkin vending machine and a disposal bin. An access card is provided at the cafe free of cost for those who wish to use the washrooms. The little passage between the cafe and the washrooms at the back is occupied by an ATM machine, utilising the 170 sq feet completely. The cafe is also equipped with wifi, air coolers and surveillance cameras outside every door for maximum security.
“As a part of the Swacch Bharath initiative that we at Ixora are taking up, we wanted to promote hygiene through these high-tech self-sustaining toilets,” says Abhishek Nath, the Founder and CEO of Ixora who powers LooCafe. “We were in a meeting discussing what we could do as a part of our CSR initiative and decided to take a walk along with the support staff right here in Hitec city. We had women with us too and realised that there are no washrooms to be seen anywhere.
There is a dearth of usable public washrooms in areas with large footfalls. And we decided to take it from there,” says Abhishek. He admits that GHMC had a large role to play in the inception of LooCafe. “GHMC was instantly on board with us when we pitched the idea. They have been very supportive throughout in allotting space and the permissions alike.
Need no help
LooCafe practically pays for itself, says Abhishek. “We did a recce of the area and found that it garners a lot of footfalls, especially because Shilparamam is right opposite to it. The cafe serves snacks and beverages for less than `30, making it affordable to anyone.
The revenue generated from the cafe will in turn go into the maintenance of it as well,” he explains. While it took them about `13 lakh to bring together this novel concept into reality, he believes that with more technology and support, that can be cut down. The cafe currently functions with five people as staff, three at the cafe and two dedicated to the washrooms.
The one launched at Hitec City won’t be the only one you will come across in Hyderabad in the next few months. “We are awaiting GHMCs go ahead to open up a 100 more such LooCafes in the city. We have already pinpointed and geotagged the locations through our research and the execution will take up to six months to come to fruitition,” confirms Abhishek. What’s more, the organisation also wants to eliminate the need for manual cleaning and are looking to employ cleaning robots for the job. All the fanciness aside, LooCafe does seem to be change the image of free public toilets in Hyderabad.