Koh Seng Choon’s restaurant sits smack dab in the middle of Hong Kong’s busy Mong Kok neighborhood. Dignity Kitchen serves mouthwatering Singaporean foods like noodles in spicy coconut milk broth, sweet cakes, and warm rice. The restaurant is different from other restaurants in the city though. That’s because it is almost completely staffed by employees with physical or mental disabilities.
The restaurant is huge. It’s designed like a Singaporean food court with many different food stations. Employees are trained to prep food and cook as well as serve customers. A deaf employee runs the drink stall. Posters at the stall show patrons simple sign language for drink orders. An employee with autism operates the rice stall. He excitedly introduces the daily rice dish to customers. “We used to prepare a script for him,” says Koh, smiling proudly. “But now, eight months, nine months later, he can’t stop talking.”
Ultimately, Koh’s Dignity Kitchen goal is to place current employees in other jobs in the food and service industry. Then Koh wants to welcome and train more disabled people at the restaurant—again turning them out as skilled laborers in the broader marketplace.
Employees with disabilities can work hard and learn new things. Brothers Bradford and Bryan Manning have significant vision loss. But they made a recent impact on the retail world. They started an online clothing store and use their profits to fund blindness research. (See Two Blind Brothers.)
Nick Vujicic is a speaker and author. He was born without limbs. But he uses his mind and voice well. Polio paralyzed Franklin Roosevelt. That didn’t stop him from being President of the United States! Hannah Sampson is a professional dancer who has Down Syndrome.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony after losing his hearing. Joni Earekson Tada is a quadriplegic who is unable to move her body below her shoulders. She is a Christian author, speaker, talented painter, and great encourager of others who serve people with disabilities.
Ming Chung is a visually impaired administrative assistant at Dignity Kitchen.
“Director (Koh) told me that he doesn’t care about our disabilities. He only focuses on our abilities,” she says.
Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” That is what is happening at Dignity Kitchen. Diners are drawn to the restaurant’s mission. (The food there is good too, they say.)