Blind dining restaurant ‘Dark Table’ hires only visually impaired servers

Blind dining restaurant Dark Table opened in Calgary on Oct. 19, 2017. Betty Jo Kaiser, News Talk 770

A restaurant that opened its doors Wednesday in Calgary is serving up a unique dining experience.

That’s because, from the time you’re seated until your server shows up with the bill, your entire meal at Dark Table is eaten in the dark.

Owner Moe Alameddine said dining in a room completely devoid of light, where you can’t even see the tip of your nose, actually clarifies your senses.

LISTEN: Betty Jo Kaiser dines in the dark at new Calgary restaurant Dark Table

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“You can smell the foods more, you can smell your drinks more, you can smell the aroma – the fresh herbs and spices,” he said.

When you arrive at Dark Table, you’re greeted with a menu. There are only seven options– steak, chicken, fish, lamb, a vegetarian or a vegan option and a “surprise dish” for more adventurous types.

Then you’re immediately ushered into a room that is pitch black.

Alameddine told News Talk 770 all the servers he hires are visually impaired.

“It’s an incredible concept and a very good social cause,” he said. “You do something for the blind community, and for people – they want to have a unique dining experience.”

The menu at Dark Table offers seven options – chicken, steak, fish, lamb a vegetarian or a vegan dish and a surprise option. Betty Jo Kaiser, News Talk 770

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Tiana lost her sight when she was three years old. She heard about the job at Dark Table through the Canadian Institute for the Blind.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” she told News Talk 770.

“It’s a fantastic system. There are carpets on the floor so you can trail them with your feet, so you can kind of tell where you are at all times. And it’s a lot of memorization: kind of like, ‘how many feet do I need to go until I’m at this table, or that table.”

“There’s a lot of elements to training. It’s not just about bringing food from point A to point B,” adds Alameddine.

The location in Calgary is one of several blind dining experiences across the country. Alameddine said he first came across the idea in Switzerland 11 years ago and opened his first location in Montreal soon after. He also has locations in Toronto and Vancouver.

He said the staff at his Calgary location have been training for two months, adding that staff from Vancouver were brought in to help prepare for opening day.

The restaurant, in downtown Calgary, seats about 70 people. Alameddine said with just one day under their belt Dark Table is already booking tables into November and December.

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