A New Kind of Experiential Dining

When it comes to restaurants, experiential dining seems to be the latest trend. Chefs have progressed beyond merely focussing on the tastebuds to engage all of the senses through new styles of cooking. But what about outside the kitchen? A new Canadian restaurant is trying a new kind of experience.


Experiential dining is all the rage because it is new, fresh and provides extra value for money on top of the initial dish. Take Heston’s famous sea-side dish for example. While eating his beach-y concoction, customers plug themselves into an iPod playing the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. Extra value. However, a restaurant in Canada has tried another value-added experience with a more noble background.

There aren’t many opportunities for deaf people to pick up jobs in the restaurant industry. Centred around verbal communication between the kitchen and wait staff as well as the wait staff and customer, deafness could be challenging in this environment. Well, an aptly named Canadian restaurant – Signs – is attempting to change that.

Employing a contingent of wait staff and front of house staff who are deaf, customers must learn to communicate through sign language to order their food. The restaurant does not expect visitors to already be proficient in this difficult art, providing sign language images on the menu and cheat sheets on the table, but it does expect visitors to use sign language to communicate during their meal.

Forgive me for viewing this enterprising set up through a marketing lens, but it provides a really appealing twist on the traditional experiential dining philosophy.

The current restaurant diners are always on the lookout for a new dining experience with extra added value. Something that will keep them on their toes and provide them with a night of new entertainment while they are eating their meal. This great idea does just that. Taking the pedestrian dining experience and adding in this quirky twist provides that extra bit of value. A new level of entertainment as everybody at the table attempts (and probably struggles) to sign their menu choice.

But it also has one advantage over the fine dining, iPod listening dining experiences. That warm, fuzzy feeling.

As shown by the backlash against the price and wastage from recently relocated world-quality restaurants to Melbourne, this social element is on everyone’s mind. And while you may have a spare small fortune to spend on one night of dinner, this opportunity provides the same additional value accompanied by the notion that you are actually contributing to society.

Sounds like a win-win to me, sure to encourage some exciting word of mouth (or hands) from diners and the media.