At this restaurant, braille menus tell a story of belonging
Food has the power to make people happy. That was one of Andries Coetzee’s greatest motivations for owning his restaurant, and something he thought he had achieved. Until the day Coetzee realised that not everyone had the same dining experience. While most customers perused the menu, choosing between their regular order or something more adventurous, there were some people who couldn’t even see what was on offer. “I noticed that blind people need to depend on other people when it comes to ordering their food,” Coetzee says. In that moment, he recognised an opportunity to make a difference.
With the help of a friend, Coetzee commissioned a braille menu. “I wanted visually impaired people to feel included,” he says. His restaurant, Iewers Nice, translates from Afrikaans to ‘somewhere nice’. The name, as well as Coetzee’s actions, speak to his desire to create a place that everyone can enjoy. Adding a braille menu allows people without sight to take charge of their choices. “Not only does it affect their independence but it affects their dignity,” Coetzee says.
The restaurant’s braille menu replicates the humour and quirkiness of their original version. “I think going out for a meal should be fun for everybody,” Coetzee says. By taking steps to be inclusive, the restaurant owner has created a sense of belonging, rather than just a place to eat. “This place allows people to come together in the name of food,” Coetzee says. His actions show that with consideration, compassion and initiative, we can make the world better and easier for those around us.