Cocktails for AllBy Claudia Knight -
When I think of relaxing and letting my hair down on the weekend, I think of cocktails. Ideally, cocktails and lots of good food too, served with my friends’ company to top it all off. Hawksmoor, an award-winning steakhouse restaurant based in Spitalfields, London, serves up some of the most delicious food and drink I have ever tried – and now they’re making it even better!
Staff who work at the restaurant have recently attended an in-house British Sign Language (BSL) training workshop. During the workshop, they have picked up skills which not only allow them to communicate better with each other across the busy restaurant floor, but also with their customers who are BSL users. HearFirst, the Lancashire-based company responsible for the training, aim to introduce staff to learn restaurant related signs, ultimately developing their signing ability and general deaf awareness.
Mickey Fellowes, a HearFirst tutor who is deaf himself delivered the training, allowing an interactive, inspirational and personal aspect to be involved in the learning process. Feedback from the restaurant’s staff after the workshop has shown that the experience was a success with all participants embracing the chance to learn some BSL.
Georgie Parrott from Hawksmoor said: “The training was very well run and had the right blend of fun, facts and interaction. All of the staff who attended the course really enjoyed it and asked lots of questions.”
“We are aiming to create an even slicker service as we shall be able to communicate across the restaurant floor using BSL without interfering with the ambience of the restaurant. Instead of using secret signs as in some restaurants, we are providing staff with an internationally recognised sign language which they have been regularly using and testing each other since we had the training.”
HearFirst have proven that learning can still be fun with Director and Founder of HearFirst, Julie Ryder, saying: “Our goal with all HearFirst courses is to provide value for money, thought provoking, fun and interesting training that motivates and inspires people to make real changes for people.”
“The BSL training that the management team at Hawksmoor initially identified was a business benefit to encourage all staff to communicate with each other across the restaurant floor using signs such as steak, cutlery, desert menu and sparkling water etc. but the skills they have now learnt will also benefit their deaf customers thus improving their overall experience.
With more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, Hawksmoor and their staff are showing just how easily the perfect dining experience can be achieved for all. Incorporating BSL into the staff and customer’s environment means that there is no hassle when visiting if those with certain requirements wish to do so; something which further contributes towards revolutionising how people travel and sight-see.
If you wish to find out some more about BSL itself and how you can learn it yourself, why not take a look at their website.
Although the restaurant’s downstairs bar is not accessible for wheelchair users due to building restrictions, the upstairs restaurant is fully accessible. A disabled toilet is available on the restaurant floor which is also step-free. It is also advisable to book a table near to the facility for ease of use or to double check the location of the facility upon arrival. The Hawksmoor team can be contacted through their website or by telephone on (+44) 020 7426 4850.