Dark Table owner dumbfounded by one-star review saying it's too dark

Apr 26 2023, 7:01 pm

The owner of a Vancouver restaurant that employs blind and visually impaired servers for a pitch-black dining experience was flabbergasted by a recent one-star review saying the eatery is too dark.

The man who left the Google Review, Rahul Seth, emailed Daily Hive with his complaints about the restaurant, alleging staff were arrogant and rude.

Dark Table review

Rahul Seth/Submitted

Daily Hive reached out to Dark Table to hear more about what happened.

Owner Haney Heneidy, a longtime shareholder who took a larger stake and got involved in operations during the pandemic, said the man had a reservation for a party of six at the restaurant on April 1 — but spent less than one minute inside, according to security footage.

Seth and his group, which included a child, entered the restaurant but immediately found it too dark, and left, Heneidy said. He added the hosts were more than gracious, saying they might see him next time.

Dark Table doesn’t take walk-ins and only accepts reservations so it can plan table allotment for its wait staff, all of whom are blind or have vision loss. The idea behind the restaurant is to be in complete darkness and learn about adaptations people with blindness or vision loss use in their everyday lives.

“People come and try to experience, for one hour of their life, to sit and live like a blind person,” Heneidy said.

Seth’s server, a man who lost his sight as a child due to cancer in both his eyes, had only two tables that night — the six-person group that walked out and another party of four. The loss of the table impacted his earnings because it meant fewer tips, and it’s a loss for the restaurant too because it can’t fill that table on short notice, Heneidy explained.

Heneidy added his staff respect if the restaurant doesn’t suit someone, or if a child gets scared — as was apparently the case with Seth’s group. The restaurant didn’t charge Seth at all and is confused why he’s leaving a negative review despite not spending a cent.

“He didn’t order food. He didn’t order drink[s]. He didn’t pay one cent at the restaurant,” Heneidy said. “We don’t consider him a customer. He didn’t dine. He didn’t have any experience.”

Heneidy added many children visit the restaurant and have a fun and educational experience — it’s a favourite for school outings.

The restaurant’s website features a quote by Shakespeare, “There is no darkness but ignorance,” and adds it’s proud to provide a space where “the blind offer this unique, eye-opening experience to the sighted.”

According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, which Dark Table collaborates with to hire servers, individuals with sight loss face a 14.5% unemployment rate — triple Canada’s general unemployment rate. Heneidy is proud to oversee a workplace specifically catered to this population, and says many of the servers have worked at the restaurant for years and guests love hearing their stories.

The restaurant’s manager replied to Seth’s review on Google, saying it’s uncanny that his group got uncomfortable being in the dark briefly, yet that’s how many people with vision loss live their entire lives.

google review

A reply from Dark Table’s manager (Submitted)

Heneidy added some of Seth’s further comments were deleted by Google, and he hopes the visitor finds peace after the visit that didn’t fulfil his expectations.

“Until now, he’s making his mind busy about this. I don’t know. I see that as just reflecting himself,” Heneidy said.

Seth did not respond to Daily Hive’s request for an interview.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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