Dream Team Blog Series: Celebrating National Small Business Week with heart

By Christine Cesarino

It’s easy to feel that your business is too small to make a difference in your community or your industry, but as the proverb goes, “A journey of a  thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Even though it’s not a US business, I wanted to share a story that I found personally inspiring.

A new restaurant opened in Toronto, Canada called “Signs”.  The difference between this restaurant and your average restaurant is that in this restaurant, every customer communicates with the entirely hearing impaired staff in ASL (American Sign Language).

With the help of instructions given in the Menu and a ‘cheat book’, guests not only experience exceptional service, but also enjoy learning the language while interacting with SIGNS’ deaf staff.  The restaurant was launched by an experienced restauranteur and entrepreneur with a passion for making a difference in his local community.

The goal of this restaurant is to give deaf people opportunities they wouldn’t normally have, bridging gaps in understanding between different kinds of people. Here, a hearing person can try sign language and share an incredible experience with one of the 50 hearing impaired staff members. Why is this important to me? Both my parents were hearing impaired and I grew up watching their struggle not only to find meaningful employment due to their handicap, but to communicate effectively with other people. This restauranteur could have launched the restaurant with mostly hearing employees but he rose to the challenge and accepted 50 hearing impaired employees, regardless of their prior restaurant experience.  So whether it’s lending your staff to a Habitat for Humanity Build, allowing them to volunteer for a soup kitchen or going above and beyond to a veteran or someone with a disability, remember that your business is never too small to make a difference.

Christine has been working for Rob for almost 7 years now as his executive assistant. She graduated from LIU: CW Post with a Bachelors in History but came to Advantage with an extensive background in executive support and event planning. She and her husband have a two year old son, and in her free time she’s a professional wine drinker.

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