Dinner in the Dark
by Daniel Howard
A French restaurant chain has introduced a new kind of dining without distraction.
Dans le Noir is French for in the dark. It's also the name of an innovative restaurant chain that serves gourmet food in pitch darkness. It's a strange concept, but clearly it's catching on. There are Dans le Noir? restaurants in Paris, London, Barcelona, New York City, and St. Petersburg. There is even a Dans le Noir? spa in Paris. The chain exclusively hires the visually impaired, for whom a dining room without any light is no problem at all.
The Dans le Noir? in Paris was the first and was opened in 2004 by restaurateur Edouard de Broglie. His co-investor was the Paul Guinot Foundation for Blind People. De Broglie's idea was to allow customers to get the experience of doing simple tasks, such as eating, without the benefit of using their eyes. There is no light at all in the dining room, so customers must do everything by touch and sound. Even the traditional signal for a server is replaced with shouting the server's name. It's an adjustment, but it's also an interesting experience. Without being able to rely on vision, people become much more aware of their other senses. Dans le Noir? even offers patrons a challenge to their senses of taste and smell by serving a surprise menu to those who wish to guess what they are eating.
The restaurant is a for-profit business, not a charity, and de Broglie is very careful to point that out. He donates 10 percent of Dans le Noir?'s profits to charities for the visually impaired, but all visually impaired people who work at his restaurant are expected to work hard to provide the customers with a unique glimpse of what it is like to live without one's sight.
Dans le Noir 意即法文的『在黑暗中』。它也是一家创新连锁餐厅的名字，这家餐厅在伸手不见五指的黑暗中供应美食。这是个奇怪的概念，但它显然正开始流行起来。巴黎、伦敦、巴塞隆纳、纽约市和圣彼得堡都有开设《Dans le Noir?》这家餐厅。巴黎当地甚至还有《Dans le Noir?》水疗中心。这家连锁店专门雇用视障人士，对他们来说，用餐的地方没有任何灯光不构成问题。
位于巴黎的《Dans le Noir?》是创始店，由餐厅老板爱德华‧德‧布罗格利于 2004 年所开设。他的共同投资人为保罗‧吉诺盲人基金会。德‧布罗格利的想法是要让客人在失去使用眼睛的优势下体验从事像吃东西之类的简单任务。在餐厅里面完全没有一丝光线，所以顾客做任何事情都必须依靠触觉与声音。甚至连传统招呼服务生的手势都由大声呼喊服务生的名字来取代。这是一种调整，但也是一种有趣的体验。人们无法依靠视觉反而变得更能充份意识到其他感官。《Dans le Noir?》甚至提供惊喜菜单给那些想要猜猜自己吃的是什么食物的顾客，以此来挑战他们的味觉和嗅觉。
这家餐厅是营利事业而非慈善机构，德‧布罗格利非常小心地指出这一点。他将《Dans le Noir?》百分之十的利润捐给为视障人士成立的慈善机构，但所有在他餐厅里工作的视障员工都必须努力工作以为顾客提供独特的体验，让他们一窥失去视力的生活是什么样子。