Typically, you wouldn’t want your food request to fall on deaf ears. But at Signs Restaurant in Toronto, you’d be lucky to get the chance.
Owner Anjan Manikumar opened his new spot last month to much fanfare, but it’s not just the cuisine that’s drawing crowds. The restaurant employs deaf waiters and waitresses, and diners have been eager to support the initiative which is giving members of the deaf community a chance to try their hand at an industry that once excluded them, CBC News reported. The restaurant is the first of its kind in Canada.
"They're able to show their potential, they're able to show how good they are, and I think they are very talented," Manikumar, who isn’t deaf but knows sign language, told KLTV.
Pictures of the signs for certain words line the walls, and each menu demonstrates to diners how to order their meal by using just their hands.
In addition to giving deaf people more job opportunities, Signs also hopes to function as a meet-up spot for the deaf community and a place for hearing people to learn sign language, according to CBC.
Manikumar first dreamed up his experiment while he was working as a waiter and met a deaf diner whom he felt wasn’t getting the kind of service he deserved.
More than 200 people applied for positions at Signs and about 50 people were hired. The workers have little, if any, hospitality experience, CBC reported.
Some have never even had full-time jobs before.
This was the case for Mehdi Safavi who is grateful for the opportunity to work in such an encouraging environment.
“It’s wonderful. I’m so excited to be here,” Safavi said. “It’s a deaf environment where people can come in and experience our world and our culture, so it’s really amazing. It’s a challenge for me. But a great challenge.”