And the restaurant is called Abbondanza Pizzeria in West Seattle. The owner’s name is Robert Esposito.
We happened to meet in the bar across from the lobby at the Little America Hotel on Sunday night. He was getting his drinks and I was writing on my postcards to my family and close friends. I’m not exactly sure how we “bumped” into each other but I remember I was sitting there at the table and took a little break from writing postcards and casually had a glance around the room. That’s when one lady caught my attention and asked me what’s my name. I told her my name and we sort of got into this small talk where you tell where you’re from, what do you do, etc, etc. As the small talk came close to an end, the lady suddenly signed “Do you know who this guy is?” I replied “No, I’m afraid I don’t. Should I?” Then, she went on to say that he owns the only Deaf-owned restaurant in the world.
I said, “Really?” and I was thinking about my blog, how Bill Bryson inspired me to notice small unique things while you’re traveling and put it in writing. I’m like, “Gee, I better interview this Deaf guy or I’m gonna regret missing this opportunity.” So I did.
Me: Are you really the only Deaf person to own a restaurant? I do recall there was a Deaf-blind chef who owns a restaurant in Seattle after moving from Louisiana and President Bill Clinton ate at his restaurant?
He: Yes, you are correct. However, his condition as a deaf-blind has gotten worse and he closed the restaurant in 2001. I opened the restaurant in 2000.
Me: Ah that explains. Ok cool, so, are you really the only Deaf person to own a restaurant in the entire world?
He: I believe I am. I haven’t heard of another that owns a restaurant but if there is one, I’d love to know.
Me: That’s great. What is it like running a restaurant business? what inspired you to open a restaurant?
He: Well, like every other business, it wasn’t easy at first but after the first year, we started having a steady number of people returning and more people know about us. I’m not really a chef myself. I just manage the restaurant but I do help out if there is a need. I was inspired to open a restaurant because of my father. He owns two restaurants in the DC area.
Me: Oh really? can you tell me the names of restaurants your dad owns?
He: Yeah, one place is called Pul Cin Nella and is located in Mclean. Another is called Esposito’s Pizza and serves new york style pizza like ours. Pulcinella is a wood oven style.
Me: That’s awesome. Since I live in VA, I will definitely stop by those places. Do you employ any deaf employees?
He: Yes I do. We have ten deaf employees. One of them is a chef. We also employ hearing people.
Me: Wow, that’s cool. What are the popular dishes at your restaurant? what time is it open?
He: Popular orders are pizzas and salads. It’s open from 4:30 pm to 10 pm.
Me: I bet they’re good. Are the customers mostly deaf or hearing?
He: You would think since I own the restaurant, a lot of deafies would come to my restaurant but that’s not true. Definitely more hearing patrons come eat at my place but deaf people occasionally come to eat too.
Me: Oh I see, you can bet I will come eat at your place whenever I get into Seattle. Thanks for your time, do you have a business card?
He: Yes, I do. *handing his business card* then he shows me how to sign the name of his restaurant. It is signed like voila! but with two hands or like two lights brightening from the ground to the top with a little shake.
Remember, the only Deaf-owned restaurant is called Abbondanza Pizzeria. Its address is 6503 California Ave SW in Seattle, Washington. It’s open from 4:30 pm to 10:00.
See you there!