Anjan Manikumar: SIGNS Restaurant

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A new restaurant has opened in downtown Toronto in which you have to order your food using sign language! Even if you don’t know sign language, there are tutorials all around the restaurant and a patient staff to help you out. SIGNS Restaurant is staffed with majority deaf and hard of hearing employees and Deaf Culture runs the show!

signs menuThe owner of SIGNS Restaurant is Anjan Manikumar, who was initially inspired by a Deaf customer at a pizza restaurant he managed long ago. Anjan noticed this patron struggling to communicate and took it upon himself to learn a few American Sign Language (ASL) phrases to connect. After that he developed a concept to turn communication barriers on its head: a restaurant in which the language is American Sign Language.

imagesAs part of KBOO Community Radio’s fall membership drive, he was our guest for APA Compass, chatting with me by phone from SIGNS Restaurant in downtown Toronto. One thing I really appreciated about our conversation is that he seems to value the Deaf community and wishes to see them succeed (as opposed to using their language as a restaurant gimmick).

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Air date: 10/3/2014