Breaking Barriers: St. Pete's Deaf Food Truck Reimagines the Ordering Experience

In the vibrant city of St. Petersburg, a unique food truck has emerged, revolutionizing the way customers place their orders. Departing from the conventional method of verbally communicating preferences, patrons at this establishment fill out a menu to convey their choices. At the helm of this groundbreaking venture is chef and CEO Anna Cerney, a passionate culinary artist who happens to be deaf. Her journey in the culinary world aims not only to cater to the community but also to inspire others facing similar challenges.

Anna, facing skepticism from some employers due to her deafness, embarked on the entrepreneurial path, giving birth to Def Burger in 2021. With her father, Brian Cerney, as both interpreter and business partner, the dynamic duo strives to create a space that fosters increased communication opportunities for everyone. Anna expresses her goal, saying, "That was our goal, to serve the community and include the increased opportunities for communication both ways, help hearing people know how to communicate with deaf people, and give deaf people the opportunity to demonstrate that they can do anything."

Her passion for cooking is the driving force behind this endeavor. Anna shares, "I have a heart for cooking, the taste, texture, smells, the overall experience of food." She finds joy in witnessing people savor her creations, as their expressions and experiences provide invaluable feedback.

Having recently relocated from Georgia to St. Pete, the Cerneys strategically set up shop at 54th Avenue North and 16th Street North, attracting both lunchtime crowds and students from Northeast High School. Anna envisions serving an after-school crowd and an evening clientele in this convenient location.

Def Burger offers a diverse menu featuring burgers, tacos, wings, fries, and their renowned coleslaw. The ordering process involves customers either writing down their preferences, using their phones, or employing gestures and sign language, creating an inclusive and interactive experience.

Currently, Anna and her dad are the sole employees, but they have ambitious plans for expansion. They are renovating a suite in the neighboring shopping center, with hopes of opening a brick-and-mortar Def Burger in the coming months. The goal is not only to establish a permanent presence but also to take their culinary delights to various events with the food truck.

Looking ahead, Anna and her father aspire to hire additional staff. Their preference is to recruit individuals from the deaf community, ensuring seamless communication on the truck. Anna emphasizes, "Once we are able to afford hiring other people, we want people who sign, preferably deaf. They don't have to be deaf, but we need to be able to communicate easily on the truck."

Currently, the Def Burger food truck operates from Monday to Saturday, providing delectable offerings from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. As the journey unfolds, Anna and her team aim to continue breaking barriers, fostering inclusivity, and serving up culinary delights that transcend the boundaries of communication.

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