Not Your Ordinary Fried Chicken Eatery
By Juergen Stryjak
This months review will look weird to ardent restaurant review readers, not to speak of gourmets. Admittedly, I am not excessively concerned with a restaurants food quality, if the place itself is interesting, well designed or tells stories of life and ages, or if the clientele is unique. Anyway, even in such cases, I never would recommend a restaurant with unsatisfying food. This month I invite tourists coming to Cairo to consider visiting one in particular of its countless Kentucky Fried Chicken branches.
I agree its fast food and not the ultimate dining experience, sure. But I am not speaking about any KFC outlet. I would like to recommend a restaurant that is almost completely run by hearing and speaking impaired staff. It opened more than half a decade ago. During all the years that I have spoken to several managers on duty there, some have said that it is the first KFC branch of its kind worldwide, while others believe it was at least the first one in the Middle East.
On the face of it, the fast food junkie will not notice any difference compared to other KFC restaurants. He or she gets the same fried chicken pieces as everywhere, the same fried potatoes, the same soft drinks and the same desserts. Nothing out of the ordinary, I know. But when the time comes to order these tidbits, well, this process is completely out of the ordinary! Americana, the Egyptian franchise company of KFC employs specifically for this branch only hearing and speaking impaired young people, not older than 25. Of course,
the company is keen on the publicity impact, but a bunch of young people, the staff, which otherwise would have difficulties to find a place in the society, do definitely benefit a lot from this. Only two people per shift are able to hear: the manager on duty and someone receiving the home orders by telephone.
At the counter, the guest points with his finger on a plate with pictures, labeled in Arabic and English. Whatever and however, spicy or normal, the guest wants to order, he will find a picture or a sign for it. And if he wants two of the same item, he simply raises two fingers. There is no sign for: I would like to have my soft drink without ice! But I discovered, that the staff is able to read this from the lips, even in English, if only the guest forms a clear No ice with his mouth. Did you ever dine in a restaurant, where the waiter reads your wishes from the lips in such a proverbial sense? When the guest leaves the restaurant, one of the staff usually leads him to the door, saying Goodbye in sign language, showing with his smile, that he appreciates the guests visit much more than bored waiters in other restaurants.
But dont expect this unique place to be a quiet oasis in the middle of noisy Cairo! The people are enveloped in loud pop music. You will need to learn sign language in advance to communicate with your fellows. Or just give an unmistakable sign to one of the waiters, covering your ears with your hands, for example.
Kentucky Fried Chicken. Community Care Restaurant. 9, Sadd El-Aly St., Dokki, Cairo. Between Al-Galaa Square (Sheraton Cairo Hotel) and Fini Square. Just enter the Sadd El-Aly Street from Al-Galaa Square right to the petrol station. Open daily 11:00 am to 1:00 am. Telefon:+2-02-333 54 523 or +2-02-333 54 529. Prices: a complete meal around LE 25 (US-$ 5).