Two friends are creating an environment where everyone feels at home.
The deaf community is disproportionately unemployed compared to their hearing peers, and, of those who are employed, 56 percent report experiencing workplace discrimination due to their disability. But the Mozzeria restaurant chain is about to help fix that, not only by creating more jobs for deaf people but also by creating a welcoming environment for all.
After meeting at Gallaudet University, the founders decided to open a pizzeria together, but they had a second dream in mind, as well. Inspired by their own experiences and difficulties with being deaf, Russ and Melody hired an all-deaf staff for their restaurant to improve job availability and to become an example for other organizations that deafness does not impair one’s competence in the workplace.
But their restaurant has become a welcome refuge not only for the deaf community but for all kinds of people. “I have to adapt daily, so I’ve become used to this,” Russ explained. “When people come in here who don’t speak English, they don’t feel different.” By using a combination of hand gestures and written notes, Mozzeria has managed to eliminate communication barriers to create an easy and amiable experience for their customers and employees. Now, by turning their creation into a restaurant chain, they are hoping to spread this experience across the country.
You can watch the full interview with Russ and Melody below.