Saturday, 2024 February 24

[Tuning in] Founder of dark dining restaurant on empowering people with disabilities at the workplace

Yu Shuang is the founder and manager of Beijing’s dark dining restaurant Trojan Fairy. After regaining sight after an eye illness in 1999, Yu wanted to create a place that gives the public an opportunity to experience the life of blind people. In the restaurant, customers have to store their mobile phones, bracelets, earphones, scarf, hats, glasses, or any objects that would light up or creates possible danger in the dark. After washing their hands, a blind waiter will guide them into the dark dining chamber for the meal. Customers can opt for different fixed-price set menus without knowing what they include, as guessing what they are eating in the dark is also part of the experience. The restaurant hires people with disabilities as staff.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

KrAsia (Kr): What’s the story behind the restaurant’s name, Trojan Fairy?

Yu Shuang (YS): The origin of the name comes from the story of the Trojan Horse, who lurks in the dark, accumulates energy, and then goes out to fight a battle. We incorporated this story into the theme of our restaurant. Over the past 10 years, more than 80 blind or visually impaired people have been employed here, and they’re all winners.

Kr: Back in 2009, there were very few dine in the dark restaurants across China and abroad. How did you come up with this concept?

YS: In 1999, I experienced a retinal detachment, and I couldn’t see. Fortunately, my vision was able to recover and now it is quite stable. After going through this process, I really wanted to tell others about my experience so that everyone can cherish their bodies and the people around them. Another thing is that I began to pay attention to the visually imp aired groups, and I found out that their living spaces were not very good, and I wanted to help. It suddenly occurred to me to create a restaurant to incorporate all these things so everyone can understand what I want to express with a simple meal.

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Julianna Wu
Julianna Wu
Data visualist & writer

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