The road to opening Deaf’s Delight Café, a new eatery in Downtown Newark that caters to the city’s deaf and hard of hearing residents, wasn’t easy. After years of working toward its opening, a burglary in 2019 all but stomped out Sandra Rivers’ hope of creating a place that could honor what her parents went through during their lifetimes.

“Both of (my parents) died in a society that wasn’t built for them,” Rivers told NJ Advance Media. “I wanted to make sure the community didn’t die in the same manner my parents did.”

Rivers’ parents were deaf, and there was never really a place they could go on their own to have fun and meet new people, she said. Sometimes she would even hear people laughing under their breath, when eating out with her mother, she previously told NJ Advance Media. Her dream, she said, was to create a space where that wouldn’t happen.

It was coming together in 2019, but in November of that year, $90,000 — her life savings — worth of equipment was stolen from the property that now houses the café. The case is still open, and no leads have led police to a suspect, a representative for the Newark Police Department said.

But, donations from the community helped keep the venture afloat, Rivers said. A now-closed GoFundMe fundraiser raised nearly $30,000 for Deaf’s Delight in 2019.
Despite the setback, and the struggles of navigating the opening of a restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic, the café finally opened to the public this January.
Accessibility is the key to Deaf Delight’s dining experience. Staff members know sign language and movies are streamed with open captions daily. Patrons can order breakfast, lunch and a menu of different coffees.