New Canggu eatery Inklusiv Warung, with its Deaf wait staff, is about more than just great food

A cute eatery in the heart of the ever-growing Canggu unapologetically caters to minorities by employing Deaf waiters and waitresses. It certainly lives up to its name. Photo: Inklusiv Warung.    


P.S.: They’re all signing ‘I LOVE YOU’ in this picture.
A cute eatery in the heart of the ever-growing Canggu unapologetically caters to minorities by employing Deaf waiters and waitresses. It certainly lives up to its name. Photo: Inklusiv Warung. P.S.: They’re all signing ‘I LOVE YOU’ in this picture.

Colorful, warm, welcoming and approachable. 

Perhaps it’s because of the rainbow-colored stairway to the second floor, which hosts various events like drag performances and open mics. 

Perhaps it’s the plethora of colors on display (Anna Wintour would be proud with their color-blocking schemes), from the chairs to the small pillows to the walls.

Perhaps it’s their mural proudly showing all types of people from various gender spectrums, celebrating our uniqueness be it in terms of facial shapes, body size, or gender expressions. 

Photo: Amahl S. Azwar.

Or perhaps it’s simply their charming waiters and waitresses who are very friendly and attentive. Some of them happen to be Deaf people, which makes this eatery a stand-out in its location – a rapidly growing area in Bali increasingly known for its noisy beach clubs, Instagram influencers, fitness aficionados and party goers.

Launched on Aug. 15, Inklusiv Warung (which roughly translates to “Inclusive Eatery”) is an unapologetically rainbow-colored café-slash-restaurant in Canggu that sets out to fill the inclusivity gap towards people who are differently abled in the area.

“The idea to open Inklusiv Warung dawned on us in 2017. This is our project to empower minority communities,” said Gunn Wibisono, who co-founded the restaurant with his partner, Dutch national Hans de Waal. 

With a background in social psychology as well as a presence on clip-sharing app TikTok where he would discuss issues such as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community in Indonesia, Gunn is fully aware of the struggle for fellow minority groups to be accepted in the country.

Inklusiv Warung itself is part of the couple’s De Moksha resort. The couple recently opened the health-conscious restaurant LowCal in Canggu, where they also employ Deaf wait staff.

The Deaf community in Indonesia is still struggling for basic rights such as employment despite the issuance of the 2016 Law on People with Disabilities.

In general, Deaf Indonesians still experience rampant stigma. Just last year, the country’s Minister of Social Affairs, Tri Rismaharini, received backlash from the community after she urged a Deaf teenager to verbally speak up in a viral clip.

Read also: ‘God gave us mouths’: Indonesia’s Social Affairs Minister Risma forces deaf and mute boy to speak

Indeed, even Inklusiv Warung has its own share of challenges when it comes to uniting the Deaf – signified by their pink badges – and Hearing employees.

“Sometimes we must remind the Hearing employees to actively use Indonesian Sign Language either when communicating with their Deaf colleagues or even among themselves,” said Gunn.

Coconuts visited the Inklusiv Warung a couple of times in the past week to observe the eatery’s vibes – and it is indeed welcoming. The eatery provides a QR code with basic Indonesian Sign Language (Bisindo) phrases that can be useful when ordering something or to simply chat with the Deaf wait staff.

Photo: IG/@inklusivwarung.

“It’s a fantastic concept,” said 38-year-old veterinarian Jessica Johnson, originally from Ireland, who is visiting Bali for yoga training.

“It was very easy to order food, and I got to learn some sign language at the same time. The staff are all very attentive so it’s not difficult to get their attention, and translators were available if needed.”

“Even if all fails you could just point on the menu or use your phone,” Jessica’s friend, Judith, who is from Germany and also on the island for yoga training, chimed in.

Samira Magsudlu, a loyal Inklusiv Warung patron from Australia, said that she was curious as to how people in general would react when they are greeted by Deaf waiters upon entering the restaurant.

“Interestingly, everyone seemed to be okay with it,” she said, adding that the restaurant seems to be more appealing to younger generations due to the atmosphere and colorful theme.

Great food, too, actually 

While some might find the eatery’s empowerment drive appealing and would like to pay the restaurant a visit just for that, they remain committed to serving good food.

Seeing that people in Canggu seem to be calorie-conscious, each dish at Inklusiv Warung comes with a calorie count on the menu.

The prices here may be steep for some, but the portions are on the larger side and the dishes here will leave you feeling quite full.

Coconuts’ picks include Nasi Campur Vegetarian (Indonesian vegetarian mixed rice) and Grilled Tuna Foccacia sandwich. Their Karedok (Indonesian salad served with peanut sauce) is also to die for. As for breakfast, make sure you try their Swiss Bircher Muesli overnight oats and Danish Smorrebrod.

Inklusiv Warung’s Nasi Campur Vegetarian. Photo: Amahl S. Azwar

Proud Deafie 

Inklusiv Warung hired Ade Wirawan, a proud Deaf activist, as their human resources manager. Speaking to Coconuts, Ade said that he is excited for the eatery to bridge the gap between the Deafies and the Hearies. 

Photo: Ade Wirawan.

While conceding that many adjustments can be made in order to make the restaurant even more accessible for people who are either deaf or hard-of-hearing, Ade said that Inklusiv Warung is a perfect spot for them to introduce Indonesian Sign Language to a broader audience.

“One time a group of Deaf people from France visited. The Deaf friends in Bali were very excited to meet them and we introduced Bali’s Indonesian Sign Language to them,” Ade said. 

The Deaf community in Indonesia is in the midst of an identity struggle. While the majority use Bisindo from childhood and in their daily lives, the government has been insistent on introducing the Indonesian Sign Language System (SIBI) by approving it as the language used in schools for the disabled (SLB).

Many members of the Indonesian Deaf community have demanded for the government to approve Bisindo instead, given its familiarity and ease of learning. SIBI, for them, is more complicated to follow.

For that reason, Inklusiv Warung is more than just a restaurant for its Deaf staff and patrons – it’s a place where they can be free to communicate as themselves. And that invitation for freedom of expression is extended to any and all with a common struggle, as long as they’re willing to pull up a chair and enjoy great food with great company.

“We hope to soon be able to host social impact events, which is actually our core business,” said Gunn.

FIND IT:

Inklusiv Warung

Jl. Munduk Catu No.8A, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Badung Regency, Bali 80361

Open daily from 7am to 1am

Reservations: 0811-3807-800 or check their Instagram.

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