In 2018, Francis Carl Reyes was looking for a concept for a food related business. He researched on food trends in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong and saw that rolled ice cream was becoming popular. He also realized that there were various kindsof doughnuts that were not being served in the Philippines and he decided that he would introduce them.
With these two concepts in mind, Elait, which offers rolled ice cream and yogurt, was born on April 1, 2018. Overdoughs, a homegrown bakery that offers doughnuts, Mouthwatering Mini Chonky Cookies and other delicious pastries, was born a month later on May 31, 2018.
What also made his business unique was because Reyes offered employment opportunities to deaf persons. This was the result of an encounter he had with a deaf person when he was visiting a clothing shop when he was a teenager.
“There was this guy who approached me, but he was not talking. He was trying his best to really assist me, and it was then that I noticed that there was a name tag and the word deaf was placed there,” he said.
Epitome of good customer service
That was Reyes’s first experience with a deaf person who he felt was the “epitome of good customer service. No matter who you are, he is going to assist you. No judgement.” That experience made him decide that he would employ deaf partners for his store.
Both brands were doing well with their Deaf Partners until the Covid-19 pandemic happened. Reyes was forced to close their stores and rethink his strategy. Since rolled ice cream cannot be delivered, Reyes said he and his team concentrated on Overdoughs products while finding ways to innovate so that their products will become more delivery friendly.
As the situation improved and with more time in his hands, Reyes thought of making use of the bigger kitchen area in the Overdoughs outlet in Greenhills. He started his research and development work and introduced a line of savory projects for Overdoughs.
“We started offering Sourdough Pizza, Fat Fries and Chicken Fingers because the outlet is near the cinema. And we also thought of offering our customers the full restaurant experience,” Reyes related.
After months on soft opening to furnish the operations in the branch, Reyes finally opened Overdoughs’ first café last May 2022, adding that this was the direction to which they were heading.
Leveling up on training
For Overdoughs’ Deaf Partners, this would mean that they would have to level up on their training because they will not only be baking cookies and serving, they will have to learn how to set up tables and give customers the full restaurant experience.”
“To solve the communication barrier, we put up wireless buttons or pagers on the tables. So, if customers need assistance, they will just need to press the button and each of our deaf partners has a wrist band that will vibrate. That is what we are doing to make the system easier,” Reyes said.
He added that he would be putting up sign language posters all over the restaurants so that customers can learn sign language during their stay in the restaurant.
“One of the things that we are working on is to offer sign language classes in the café so you are not just dining in; you will also be learning sign language,” he said.
Instead of putting up more branches, Reyes said he will be converting some of his bigger branches into phases because he realized this direction will further sustain their operations and continue providing livelihood to their Deaf Partners.
“We really want to offer the full experience. And hopefully soon, we can start providing sign language classes so that you can eat, you can learn, and you can interact. This is our way of owning the concept of doing good through good food,” Reyes added.