Deafness can’t deter couple from achieving a lifelong dream

Melody and Russ Stein

SAN FRANCISCO—Readers of this blog who live or visit San Francisco might want to check out Mozzeria, an unusual pizza and pasta restaurant in the Mission District.

What’s unusual about it? Well, for one thing, along with pizza Margherita and pomodoro, there’s also a roast duck pizza with hoisin sauce. And the pasta dishes include both tagliatelle and Japanese pumpkin ravioli.

The menu reflects the diverse backgrounds of Russ and Melody Stein, the couple who own it. Melody was born in Hong Kong, where her parents were restaurateurs. Russ hails from New York City, where he learned to love pizza.

What’s most unusual about this story is something that Russ and Melody share: They are both deaf. After meeting at Gallaudet University and falling in love, they got married and spent 10 years in South Dakota. He worked for the Communication Service for the Deaf in Sioux Falls and she took a job in marketing.

However, Melody has always dreamt of one day opening a restaurant, and her husband shared her vision. So, they decided to move to San Francisco to pursue their goal, a challenging one even for entrepreneurs who don’t have to overcome deafness.

The couple’s restaurant was designed and built by deaf people, and they hired deaf and ASL signer to work there. Waiters at Mozzeria all carry pen and paper to communicate with those customers who don’t sign.

For more on Mozzeria, read Melody Stein’s first-person account, published in the October 13 New York Times.