Dining in candlelight? Romantic. Dining in pitch black darkness? You’re probably thinking, who would want to do that? A lot of folks, actually. Ever since the first dark restaurant opened in Europe, the concept has spread across the continent and even beyond to North America and Asia.
With two locations in Switzerland, blindekuh (German for “blind man’s bluff”, literally “blind cow”) is the original dining in the dark experience that started it all. At blindekuh Zurich, which opened in 1999, and blindekuh Basel, which followed in 2005, guests are encouraged to trust their other four senses to enjoy their meals. For many, eating without their sight temporarily is a real eye-opener. Both locations hold musical, theatrical, and other cultural events in the dark as well.
But more than just offering a one of a kind dining adventure, blindekuh also serves to provide employment for the blind and visually impaired; two-thirds of its staff are. In addition, it doesn’t solely rely on its unique concept to attract customers; good food is just as important, with the menu changing weekly according to seasonal produce.
The blindekuh restaurants are projects of the Blind-Liecht (Swiss German for “blind-light”) Foundation, which was formed by a group of blind and visually impaired professionals. The organization, which aims to bridge the gap between the blind and the sighted, is the largest private sector employer of blind and visually impaired people in Switzerland.
The Blind-Liecht Foundation has received several accolades for its work, including the Lilienberg Entrepreneur Award and the ZFV Social and Arts Award. Co-founder Stefan Zappa was honored with the title of Swiss Social Entrepreneur 2007 by the Hilde and Klaus Schwab Foundation.
Following the launch of blindekuh Zurich in 1999, the dining in the dark concept has been replicated by many other restaurants, including Unsicht-Bar (Germany), Nocti Vagus (Germany), Dans Le Noire? (France, UK, Russia), Opaque (US), Blackout (Israel), and Whale Belly (China).