In 1998, working as guides at the “Dialogue in the Dark” exhibition at Zurich’s Museum of Design connected two people: Jürg Spielmann, a blind pastor, and Stephen Zappa, a psychologist with partial sight. The two set up the Blind-Liecht (“blind light” in Swiss German) Foundation and collaborated with two other guides: Andrea Blaser, a blind social worker, and Thomas Moser, a blind singer. Less than one year later, the four opened blindekuh Zurich, which is said to be the world’s first-ever restaurant in the dark.
Two-thirds of the staff is blind or partially sighted, and they move around the way blind people are accustomed to: by building a picture of the location in their minds and navigating that mental picture. The restaurant’s name translated into English is “Blind Man’s Bluff,” named for the children’s game of tag where the “tagger” is blindfolded. The restaurant’s mission is to foster insight into what life as a blind person is like, as well as to amplify the other senses while enjoying the meal. The dining experience means a pitch-black room, although the bathrooms, reception area, and kitchen are lit. The menu at blindekuh Zurich changes every week and is inspired by the seasons, and current options include curried pumpkin soup, a rack of venison, and tiramisu.
Since blindekuh Zurich opened over 16 years ago, many other restaurants around the world have followed in its footsteps to offer dining in the dark experiences to curious guests, like global chain Dans Le Noir, German restaurant unsicht-Bar, and American chain Opaque.