The idea to open a restaurant where people would dine in complete darkness originated in Zurich, Switzerland in 1999. The project was initiated by the organization Blind – Leicht, with the aim to create new job positions for visually impaired people. Similar concepts then appeared worldwide, in Europe e.g. in London, Paris, Berlin or Moscow. The project has also found support in Asia, the USA and Canada.
Whose interest is the project meant to attract?
The restaurant is run by a company called Vyšehrad 2000 Group, which has been carrying on business in the gastronomical sphere for more than 14 years. Lately, we have noticed, that modern customers have been looking for more and more experiences that would enrich their life. And this is precisely what our restaurant offers. This form of different gastronomy and an unconventional environment offers more than mere expectations. Our customers leave the place full of new impressions. The project in various modifications is suitable for the general public as well as for schools and children.
Is there any connection with Prague’s project and other restaurants which are similar abroad?
All these projects have a lot in common. The restaurant has a precise set of rules concerning dining. In fact, all these concepts are based on more or less similar rules of service. All of these restaurants are unusual and very popular.
Is there anything that makes Prague’s restaurant stand out from the other restaurants?
It is very difficult to specify what exactly Prague’s restaurant has or does not have. Each restaurant is original. They have different interiors, programmes and gastronomy. All of them follow the tendencies of the market and the demands of their customers.
What is the restaurant’s capacity?
The upper part also called the “dark part”, has 50 seats, the lower part, also referred to as the “light part” ,with the daylight coming in, has 40 seats.
What exactly happens in the “dark part” of the restaurant?
Customers first enter the “light part” of the restaurant where they are received and offered a glass of aperitif. The personnel then explain to them the rules of the visit and service in the “dark part” of the restaurant. Then they choose from the menu. To ensure a smooth run of the restaurant, it is necessary that all the guests place any of their belongings that might be a source of light into a locker. Such objects are e.g. mobile phones, watches, cameras, etc. Before entering the “dark”, visitors are told the number of their table and the name of their waiter. It is important that visitors remember this information as right after that they need to follow their personal waiter, address him by his name, and fully respect all his instructions. If the visitors need anything (to order, clear the table, go to the toilet or leave the room), they need to address their waiter. When the guests are seated, they are served the food and drink that they have chosen. When they have finished, they are served coffee in the “light part” of the restaurant, pay the bill and leave.
Are there any special safety measures that must be followed?
Not to stand up and walk around without your personal waiter and to follow the visiting rules of the “dark part”.
How did you get the waiters for the “dark part”?
We co-operated with a rehabilitation and retraining centre for the visually impaired called Dědina, whose director is Mgr. Marie Schifferová. Kateřina Dočkalová and Zdeňka Čermáková and of course service manager Lukáš Tesárek helped us to train the staff.
How many waiters are in the dark part?
Three, all of them blind.
It has been one and a half months since your restaurant opened. Can you tell us how many people came here?
It differs. Sometimes we have twenty visitors, sometimes ten, it largely depends on the programme which we prepare for the whole month. Then it also depends on whether you choose a menu with or without a programme. Menu without a programme is on every Monday and the guest thus pays 790 CZK. Menu with a programme costs 990. We wanted to offer this experience to everybody. I do not think that this price is exorbitant considering the operation expenses.
What are the prices in similar restaurants in the world?
Not long ago, we visited a similar restaurant in Berlin and the menu cost approximately 50 Euro. We are somewhere else. As I have said, we tried not to make the price too high and offer this experience to everybody.
Are you happy with the number of customers?
It is difficult to say. It is true that we did not open at the most favourable time. There was the European Championship, holidays, people were thinking about where to go. So we are a little bit disappointed but we know that at the moment there is nothing we can do about it. I think that the campaigns are well done and all the marketing, so we expect the biggest boom in September and October.
Is it possible to come to Pod křídlem noci just for a coffee in the afternoon?
Of course. The lower part of the restaurant, i.e. the “light part” functions in the classical way. Anybody can come for a coffee or a glass of wine, choose something to eat from our menu, have lunch and sit and talk to their friends in modern interior design.