1. “Signs,” Canada’s first-ever restaurant for the deaf, opened its doors in downtown Toronto last Tuesday.
2. The restaurant has an almost entirely deaf waitstaff, and encourages guests to interact and order food using only sign language.
4. The idea sprung from restaurant owner Anjan Manikumar, who was inspired to learn how to sign after struggling to communicate with a deaf customer at his previous job, and recognized it as a problem in the service industry.
“I had a deaf customer that would come around a lot,” he told ABC News about his job as a manager of a pizzeria. “He wasn’t getting the service he deserved.”
The experience inspired Manikumar to learn a few basic gestures, like “hello” and “enjoy.” He said even his minimal exchange with the deaf customer made a big difference: “He was delighted. He came back the very next day with a deaf friend.”
Though it’s a rare concept, Signs isn’t the first restaurant that caters to the ASL community; San Francisco’s Mozzeria is an Italian restaurant with deaf owners and deaf staff members, and customers at Canada’s O.Noir restaurants have both blind servers and eat in darkness.
5. So far, the reception of “Signs” have been tremendous within the Toronto community.
8. Manikumar hopes that the eatery will not only educate others about everyday challenges in the ASL community, but inspire other work forces to create jobs for the deaf.
“We speak English, they speak sign language, that is the only difference,” Manikumar said of the ASL community, adding that it he feels they are “like my own family.”
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