Sid Nouar is deaf. The unemployment rate for deaf people in Europe is over 50%. So when Nouar opened his restaurant,1000&1 Signes in Paris, he was committed to hiring deaf staff. And he’s not the only “deaf cafe” in the world.
When Nouar first opened his Moroccan restaurant, he couldn’t find deaf staff trained in the restaurant business (something very necessary for Parisian restaurants, where restaurant positions are careers). As a result, he ended up performing the roles of the whole front-of-house staff while his mother cooked in the kitchen.
As you might imagine, he burned out as a result.
Luckily, he was able to reopen at an even larger location a few years later and hire a full staff of deaf people.
Deaf cafes around the world
According to Atlas Obscura (cited below): “Although every country has its own unique sign language, Deaf people across the globe share many common experiences, especially the frustration of primarily communicating in a language not shared by the majority. Instead of focusing on what they cannot access, however, many Deaf people take pride in their rich sign languages, plus the arts, athletics, folklore, values, and history that make up what is known as Deaf Culture.”
Now, there is a “Deaf Ecosystem” that employs the deaf community whenever possible. And deaf travelers seek out these deaf entrepreneurs. Still, 80% of the clientele at deaf cafes are hearing people. But they’re required to adapt to their surroundings rather than the other way around.
Atlas Obscura offered an example: “When visiting Austin, Texas, Deaf travelers are sure to visit Crêpe Crazy. The birth of this popular crêpe restaurant evokes the quintessential American fairytale: two Deaf immigrants turn a secret family recipe into a pair of successful central Texas restaurants, serving an American take on a European classic.” – WTF fun facts