Melody Stein always knew that she wanted to own her own business. As the daughter of San Francisco restaurateurs, building a restaurant from the ground up seemed like a natural choice when she was in her late teenage years. So she applied for work at a local restaurant, aiming to get the kitchen experience she’d need to one day build her own operation.
But the management told Melody she was a liability. Because Melody is deaf, they reasoned, she might have accidental run-ins with staff while they were carrying dishes or hot pots and pans. They rejected her application.
In 2011, Melody and her husband Russ opened a pizzeria, a restaurant where an all-deaf staff cooks and serves Neapolitan pizzas. The idea was to serve excellent food in an atmosphere that’s welcoming to both the Deaf community and hearing customers alike.
Since 2011, the restaurant’s two locations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have hosted hundreds of Deaf customers from around the world, including Sweden, Italy, China, Japan, and Brazil.