From Our Editors
Dining out is always a pleasure, especially when it involves savoring a pistachio-crusted lamb burger and learning some American Sign Language. That exact experience awaits at DeaFined, a Lebenese-cuisine inspired restaurant where the entire waitstaff is deaf or hard of hearing.
Owner Moe Alameddine was inspired by his own success in opening “blind-dining” eateries staffed by another chronically underemployed population: the visually impaired. He talked to us about why his new spot is unusual for Vancouver—and most other places in the world.
Diners get to be bilingual for a night.
Don’t know how to say “please” or "thank you" in American Sign Language? The team makes it easy to chat with the servers. An ASL-fluent host greets guests and acts as an interpreter while introducing the concept. A translation chart adorns one wall, and diners will find ASL icons next to each menu item.
Much of the food is right out of the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Alameddine cited the hummus as especially authentic, thanks to its simplicity. It's a blend of tahini, chickpeas, and lemon—"you don't add too many things in it," he said. Alameddine would know, considering he was born in Lebanon and grew up with Eastern Mediterranean food. In fact, he still imports spices from his homeland; his chefs use them in everything from meat marinades to salad dressings.
Dietary restrictions are no problem.
The chefs happily accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. The pads and pens on each table are perfect for explaining more complicated needs or playing baba ghanouj–themed hangman.
Diners can say thank you in a way that lasts.
There's the sign-language way, of course, but diners often write their servers more elaborate compliments. "[The waiters] get papers from customers," Alameddine said. "'That potato was great!' 'My burger was excellent!' ... I have little notes now, in the office." Satisfied diners can always join his growing collection of thank-you notes.