Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend some time in Washington DC. I found Washington DC to be both budget-friendly and jam-packed with accessible and inclusive experiences. I was super excited to learn that DC is the home to the first signing Starbucks and also where I was lucky enough to experience Deaf culture at Mozzeria DC. When I travel, I like nothing more than supporting businesses which offer employment opportunities to people living with disability so when I found out that Mozzeria Pizza would be the first stop on my Washington DC itinerary, I couldn’t have been happier. I’m thrilled to be able to share this review of Mozzeria DC. located in the H District of Washington DC.
Mozzeria DC a Deaf owned and operated business
As the parent of a son who is non-verbal and a wheelchair user I often wish people could spend even an hour in his shoes so they may show more empathy and have a greater understanding of what it’s like for him to try to communicate and navigate the world.
When I walked into Mozzeria DC I entered as a hearing person into a non-hearing world and I needed to adapt. At first I felt inadequate and frustrated that I couldn’t use ASL to communicate with the staff. Before I left Australia Amelia had taught me how to my name is and then finger spell Julie. Staff were welcoming and by gesturing and using an ink-free doodle pad I managed to order dinner. While indulging in delicious pizza and a glass of wine I gained a small insight into the lives of Deaf people thanks to the warm and generous staff at Mozzeria DC. In fact, Christin White, the operations and culinary manager, said the aim of the business is to bring two worlds together, Deaf and hearing, to show that Deaf people can work the same way hearing people can. Christin continued to tell me that for most of the staff at Mozzeria DC it was their first time working because Deaf people “tend to be rejected by other companies just because they cannot hear.” Christin said that at Mozzeria DC they aim to show their employees that they can do anything if they put in the effort and put their mind to it.
Mozzeria DC was established in 2020 and is a Deaf-owned and operated business serving authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza. The restaurant prides itself on using the freshest and highest quality ingredients to craft their pizzas. Aside from serving delicious pizzas to their customers, Mozzeria DC provides employment opportunities and training to Deaf individuals in a supportive environment. Customers don’t need to be concerned about not knowing ASL, staff go out of their way to make diners feel at home and as they say, there is a shared universal language when it comes to a love of mouth-watering pizza.
Mozzeria Pizza – wheelchair access
Mozzeria DC’s restaurant layout has been designed to not only aid the staff who are Deaf to see each other easily but to provide an accessible space for all. Bright lights, step-free access and an open plan restaurant with plenty of room for circulating with a wheelchair make this a wheelchair accessible dining experience. There’s also a unisex stand-alone accessible bathroom.
I’m curious by nature so I was keen to learn more about the logistics of working in the restaurant as a Deaf person. Christin was generous with her time showing me around the restaurant and pointing out the features that make the restaurant an accessible environment for their staff.
Reservations are taken using a relay service. She pulled up my reservation and showed me the signed video message using American Sign Language (ASL) they had received.
On arrival at the restaurant there’s a welcome sign with a list of options and the appropriate number which you can sign for staff to know what you’d like. For example, if you are picking up a to go order you signal number one, a reservation is number three.
I had a fantastic dinner at Mozzeria DC and although at times I felt inadequate and wishing I knew ASL, the staff’s warmth and encouragement ensured I didn’t feel bad about it. In fact, staff go out of their way to make customers feel welcome. The pizza’s great and the company at Mozzeria DC is even better.
You can read more about Mozzeria DC and make a reservation on its website.