Crêpe Crazy, a restaurant located on South Lamar, has a history as unique as its flavors. The restaurant was founded in 2014 by Vladimir and Inna Giterman, deaf immigrants from Russia and Ukraine respectively, who believe that good food transcends all communication barriers.
“A lot of people who come here don’t even know that it’s deaf owned,” Miranda Reyes, an employee, said. “Once they find out, it’s more of a story when they tell other people.”
Reyes is one of few hearing employees, but like her deaf coworkers, she communicates exclusively through American Sign Language at work.
“I don’t speak whenever I work just because it’s rude,” Reyes said. “I completely use ASL unless I’m translating for someone.”
The common language is a unifying factor, said manager Noa Dvir. She said it makes her feel more relaxed and less worried about what others would say, unlike at her previous jobs.
“I was ‘alone’ in (the) hearing world,” Dvir said. “With (a) deaf business, I feel like everyone (is a) family because of sign language.”
Reyes also said the group “feels like a family,” and even though she now balances the hectic schedule of a graduate student, she can’t bring herself to leave.
“The people are what’s keeping me here,” Reyes said. “It’s the most helpful family I’ve ever felt (while) working in a business.”
The camaraderie and conversation do not stop in the kitchen. According to Reyes, members of the community learning ASL will often stop by for a warm crêpe and friendly chat.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed getting to know some of the staff here (by) talking to them and being able to practice my sign,” said Devon Fronk, customer and ASL student at Austin Community College.
Longtime customer Daniel Boone and his fiancée also count the place among one of their favorites.
“We really enjoy the atmosphere and we try to support any disabled owned business just across the board,” Boone said. “No matter what. This one happens to have great food to go with it.”
Excellent customer reviews like Fronk and Boone’s are commonplace, said Michelle Giterman, CEO at Crêpe Crazy and daughter of Vladimir and Inna. Any barriers are solved with a writing tablet and pen, making communication a rare problem.
“It is never really about the language they use. It’s all about doing things right,” Michelle said. “I personally think it is a great lesson to teach customers to always seek for alternative ways to deal with things.”
For customers looking for a quick way to order, the memorable “Point and Ye Shall Receive” sign is a simple instruction, but for those looking for an insight and education on deaf culture, the door is always open, Reyes said.
“I think it’s definitely a good start if you’re just curious,” Reyes said. “Everyone here is super open to explaining it.”
People from across the United States come in looking for a “snippet of the deaf world,” Reyes said. She said the language barrier doesn’t matter because food is universal.
“We want customers to walk into my restaurant and realize that it does not matter who (is) behind the restaurant,” Michelle said. ‘I think my employees showcase that deaf people can do anything except hear.”