Mozzeria, a San Francisco pizza restaurant sells a wide range of pizzas, all fired on a 5,000-pound traditional Italian oven. Customers feeling adventurous might try the “Peking Duck” pizza, which is covered with spring onions, hoisin sauce and cucumbers. Those in the mood for the traditional could stick with the “Margherita”: fresh mozzarella, grana padano cheese, pomodoro sauce and basil. But every pizza on it’s menu was put their by either Melody Stein or her husband Russ Stein to entice customers to their rather unique restaurant. It isn’t the pizza which is out of the norm at Mozzeria, but rather the employees; everyone who works there is deaf.
Melody grew up in restaurants, her parents were restaurateurs, and all she wanted as she got older was to attend the California Culinary Academy. But because she was deaf, the academy denied her application; they considered her being unable to hear call outs for safety in the kitchen a liability. Twenty years later she proved them wrong (though they did begin accepting deaf students before closing in 2017) when she opened her own restaurant. But that bias, that idea that a deaf person could not do what the hearing could, stuck with Melody. Deaf people confront damaging stereotypes in the workplace that can disrupt their careers or even prevent their hiring, according to Communication Service for the Deaf chief executive Christopher Soukup, who is deaf. People think because someone cannot hear, they are incapable of handling high-stakes jobs — which is false in most cases, Soukup said. That is why they only hire those who are deaf at Mozzeria.
Anyone can enjoy a pie at Mozzeria, and ordering is no more complicated than at other restaurants. Diners communicate their orders to waiters either by signing (if they know sign language), pointing or using paper and pens, which lie ready on every table. And their fans have supported them to success as the Steins’ pizzeria-with-a-purpose is expanding to Washington. But they won’t stop there, they want to expand to other cities. No matter how far afield they range, though, one thing will remain constant: all deaf employees, all the time. Apart from everything else, Russ Stein said, the hiring policy actually gives Mozzeria a competitive advantage. “We’re good at making sure our customer experience is a good one because we’re excellent at reading their body language,” he said. “There’s nothing more powerful than seeing that customer smile after eating that pizza.”
And the Stein’s certainly have a reason to smile, which you can read more on in your Good News Story of the Day here, but so do all of those who fave the stigma that the Stein’s are working to break down. We’ll raise a slice to their success.
Image © Clare Cassidy Photography/Clare Cassidy Photography via Story Source The Washington Post