WATCH: Owner Moe Alameddine explains his concept for DeaFined, a restaurant that employs people with hearing disabilities.
A restaurant employing servers with hearing disabilities is opening its doors in Vancouver next week.
DeaFined on West 4th Ave and Vine Street will be the first of its kind in Vancouver and Western Canada. There are only two similar establishments in North America – one in San Francisco and one in Toronto.
Owner Moe Alameddine says guests will be served by deaf and hard-of-hearing waitstaff and have to order using American Sign Language.
The menus will come with an American Sign Language cheat sheet to help those who are not familiar with the language.
“The fun part starts from there,” says Alameddine. “You will see how challenging it is.”
Alameddine says he received 50 applications for server positions and has now hired ten people.
He says finding and training staff was the hardest part.
“There is a huge deaf community here, but I found they were a little bit isolated in the hospitality industry. We want to break that wall,” he says. “I want everyone to work in this industry. They should have a right to work in it. They do a great job. People will be amazed with their service.”
Alameddine says people with hearing disabilities are eager to work, but the unemployment numbers are alarming.
Canadian Association of the Deaf says only 21 per cent of deaf Canadians are fully employed and 42 per cent are under-employed.
Some of Alameddine’s staff are now starting to train in the kitchen with an interpreter on the floor.
“It is not impossible. It is a great concept and Vancouver is a great city for this concept.”
Alameddine says they are already getting reservations with the grand opening scheduled for May 7.