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blind date:
A worker with plates with lunch dishes running among tables.

Long, but quickly moving queue on lunchtime.

Barely heard music.

Freshly made carrot juices.

Examples of folk art (i.e. wicker lampshades).

No tray system – all dishes are served to your table.
Barred windows and interior.

Unique composition of daylight lamps.

Flower shop with a great variety of plants from all over the world. In addition, a great variety of wrapping paper.

Old-fashioned bar near the canteen with the same workers as in the canteen.

Old-fashioned russian samovar in case you want some tea on lunch.

Surprisingly pleasant smell of flowers mixed with freshly mashed potatoes.
Microwave oven – you can use it to warm up your own food.

Company store selling sweets at the same place.

Easy to read sign of WC – you will never have to ask for the way.

A smell of chocolate and cheap candies (and somehow cheap portions of ice-cream too).

Fan-page on the Internet.

Sophisticated food that one won't find in other canteens (escalopes, Chicken Kiev, etc.).
Enormous work of ceramics on the wall.

Red colour that makes a place look mysterious.

80’s style corner bar with glossy lamps and curved lines.

Flowers everywhere.

Students and quite intelectual discussions among them.

Vintage interior.

Long conveyer for dirty dishes.

The students in the canteen are open for discussions about physics, law, economics or communication science.

A microwave oven for heating food you brought from home (though heating your food is not allowed, but when the staff doesn't see...)

Radio announcing about the situation on the roads for drivers.

No queues in the canteen during lectures.
Unexpected location for a canteen – a dormitory between skyscrapers.

Colourful carpet on the wall.

Young diners.

Exceptional service for newcomers.

Food portions with a little bit extra.

School kids, who willingly show you the way to canteen.
Very talkative canteen worker.

Most of the things in the canteen are marked with „Vilniaus degtinė“ logos.

Everything is new.

Canteen is full of flowers. Orchids included.

Various types of dishes, even after lunch time.

Cosy interior.
Furniture, walls and interior details that remind of the Soviet times.

A long table always served for the banquet.

A male cook in the kitchen.

Soft and nice music.

Special enclosed corridor for the queue. Very interesting thing.

Conveyer for dirty dishes.
Vintage interior.

A cash-lady using old school cash register.

Free art and fresh gossips.

A bar with nice service.

Talkative diners.

One won’t find two identical plates in the canteen.

If you are in a hurry, you can eat your quick lunch sitting at the bar.

If you are bored, you could try guessing the names of the plants at the windows of the canteen. I guess that would take you at least a week.

A coat rack.

A good location in a center of the city.

Air conditioning system (though, it was not working on my visit day).
Disco for people over 30 on weekends and disco style attributes in the canteen.

Two huge palms near the window.

Enormous picture on the wall. Painted poppies could open a discussion about a landscape painting.

Background music (only Russian).

A corner bar with all facilities.

Lots of tables at the windows.
Funny carved heart shaped chairs.

Great combination of colours! Yellow walls match blue artificial flowers.

Low door, so everyone has to lean over to enter the canteen.

Fresh coffee and an espresso machine!

A sink to wash hands.

A coatrack.
Visually handicapped and deaf people work in the canteen.

Silence during lunch time.

The location is hard to find.

Big tables if you want to have lunch with a group.

A lot of artificial flowers.

Sincere concern of a cook: „How come you’re not eating soup? That is not healthy.
Availability of alcohol.

Great window view.

Enormous mirror near the exit.

Lithuanian soap operas on LCD TV (it is also possible to see the view of the other canteen hall on the TV).

White tablecloths that enrich the dining experience.

Awarded a Diploma for good service.
Head spinning corridors with old squeaky floors.

Young diners.

Eating in the canteen felt like sitting in a sauna.

Painting on the wall and cleanliness.

Architecturally interesting building for a walk after lunch.

Impressive pink walls.

Naujamiestis, Vilnius
Opening hours: 11:00 - 16:00

Skroblų g. 19
The Canteen of the Factory of Blind and Visually impaired. Despite the fact that most of the visitors in the canteen aren’t blind or visually handicapped, the title remained the same through the years. There are bright yellow walls, decorative plastic planks, tasty food and handicapped people working in the kitchen.


Knifes in the kitchen



Visually handicapped and deaf people work in the canteen.

Silence during lunch time.

The location is hard to find.

Big tables if you want to have lunch with a group.

A lot of artificial flowers.

Sincere concern of a cook: „How come you’re not eating soup? That is not healthy.

The canteen is a bit tricky to find. It is located in Skroblų Street, in the factory for the blind and visually impaired. To find the canteen, you’ll have to walk around the building. The first thing that caught my eye was that the canteen was all decorated with artificial flowers.
I turned to the cooks who immediately offered me some of their dishes. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a goulash that was highly suggested to me by my colleagues, so I ordered a chicken roast. I was disappointed again, as there was only a half of a chicken portion left. Well, I thought to myself that a little diet hasn’t harmed anyone yet.
Carrying my tray with chicken, cabbage and compote I headed to the corner of the canteen. I sat at a big table designed for at least 10 persons, but no one joined me.
As I was eating, I noticed that it is a bit gloomy here, so most of the visitors gather near the windows. As I was sitting in a far corner of the canteen, only a bouquet of plastic flowers was there to raise my spirit.
By the way, this canteen is a place of constant silence. It is obvious that …eg….all the visitors are not very talkative somehow.
The last episode of my lunch here – dirty dishes that you have to carry yourself to the washer-up lady, who seemed to be dying of boredom.

The chicken that I ordered was well stewed, soft and succulent, though, a bit salty. The salad wasn’t bad too. No mistakes were made in making cabbage salad.

Apple compote with cinnamon always raises my spirit. Pleasant smell, nice taste and deliciously boiled apples...

Lunch price: 8.80 Lt 

Interviu su direktore Monika Aklųjų kombinato valgykloje (LIREGUS)

How many years do you work in this canteen?
15 years. I'm both the director and the owner. But I rent this venue, just like everybody does. That's not all; we also have a banquet hall.
So you have been working here since The Declaration of Independence (in 1990)?
The start was in 1993, but the real date of working would be 1994. On first years, there were only 2 workers. We used to bake buns and take them to a factory. The first time I came to work for the canteen was in 1981. I had my second daughter born. I used to feed people in a summer camp for the blind and babysit her at the same time. Later I got an offer to work in the canteen in Skaidiškės, we got the apartment there too. My husband worked in Vilnius, I had to go to a sanatorium (I spent there 3 months), after which I came back to work for the camp for the blind.
Could you tell us about the history of your canteen?
I was offered a job in this canteen in 1993. At that time it was closed and abandoned. Earlier it used to provide food for the blind (they used coupons for food) as there their work centre was nearby. Later the coupons were abolished, so the canteen was abandoned.
And there you came in and changed everything?
You could say we started out of nothing. We were baking buns. I used to walk to factories with this huge box of buns - we had to entice the visitors. In autumn we already had some of them. So we started to cook second dishes. I had only one worker, so I used to do everything - to clean, to cook, to wash up. All in one person.
How many workers do there work now?
The number of people has changed a bit, but girls who are here now - they have been working here for really a long time.
In the summer I go to work to the camp, so my staff has to take care of everything when I'm gone. In conclusion, the staff is great, not the chair person. It's only after the New Year we have fewer persons working.
Three cooks, three washers, an accountant and me - 8 persons in total. Women only. We cook a great variety of food, but in small quantities. We have different farinaceous dishes and soups everyday. Only the beet root soup we cook everyday, as the clients are used to eat it any day. It's a soup of the year here.
When do you decide what are you going to cook for the next day?
In the evening. Spontaneously. Only farinaceous dishes we have the same: pancakes on Mondays, cepelinai on Tuesdays, potato pancakes on Wednesdays (plus preparing cabbages for Thursdays), balandėliai (cabbage rolls with meat) on Thursdays, perhaps some Kugel on Fridays. If it happens to be a holiday (like Mardi Gras or the Fast), we cook pancakes. Or fish cutlets. We cook less meat dishes then. We always observe what the clients want. All customers are coming here for a long time; they are like our friends already.
Where are there customers from?
Sometimes they come from the city. From around. The ones, who got used to eat here, come for lunch. The staff from a shop nearby used to come earlier, but nowadays they don't have lunch breaks. Lots of people buy a take-away lunch. We have disposable dishes for that.
The canteen in a factory sometimes has some privileges for its workers. How about your canteen?
Earlier we used to serve the blind firstly, without a queue. But nowadays a few blind workers come. And also they have lunch break at 10.30 a.m., at this time we don't have queues anyway. So we serve them without a problem.
If they need any help - we are here for that, for example, we cut food for them. Nowadays there are fewer blind workers left. 1000 persons used to work here, using the whole building. Nowadays, the great part of a building is rented out. Only one floor for a factory and one for the administration are left. Earlier it used to use all 3 floors. So there are less people. I don't know how they are going to survive.
Did you take any actions to respond to the recession?
Well...the VAT was increased, the meat price also increased. So we have raised the price of dishes very little, like 20 cents, not more. Suppliers lowered the prices, as they are scared of the competition with others. We negotiate... Now everybody is fighting for the clients. We trying our best. We look for discounts, for example for the juices, etc.
What dish is the most popular at this place?
Well, the customers like all dishes. Sometimes they buy everything, so that even we don't have what to eat for lunch! Well it happens rarely, but it happens. We try to cook the right amount of food, so nothing would be left. If we see there are not enough people for the food prepared, we stop cooking, so we better refrigerate something.
When do you have your lunch break?
At 2.30 p.m. And we have our breakfast at 7.30 a.m. But also you can eat whenever you want. We eat here in the kitchen. You can grab a snack whenever you want.
And where did you get this curtain from? (the curtain that covers the view to the kitchen)
We decided to put the curtain by ourselves some years ago. So that the kitchen would not be seen. The facilities are old... The view is not very nice...
Could you tell us about the interior of the canteen?
Well, we cannot change a lot here, as we rent this place. If we wanted, we would do everything for our own money. We would redecorate the chairs, as they have discoloured. We have already used the third portion of new tablecloths. We have spent lots of money for cutlery. People used to steal cutlery before. But now as the cutlery is cheaper, we don't care so much. Also we have to buy lots of salt cellars as they disappear. We don't have any soviet dishes left. We threw away some of them, those that left, we took to the camp.
Do you wash dishes by hands or use a washing machine?
We have been using the washing machine for three years now. It's was a very good purchase. I have here two deaf ladies from the social programme. I have created two vacancies, so to say. One is washing pots; the other is washing dishes with the washing machine. Also they both peal potatoes, carrots, onions. Well, there is enough work for everyone. The third assistant also helps with mashing potatoes, grating beet roots, makes the compote - she helps in cooking more. Everyone knows what to do; I don't have to give orders. After the work our assistants clean everything.
How do you communicate with the deaf girls?
We have learned. We don't use the sign language, however, we do communicate successfully. When we don't understand each other, we apologize. It's great they understand what we say by watching us saying words. At first I was afraid of how it was going to work, but they are really good in reading from the lips. They were really afraid to be fired because of the recession. It is more complicated to get a job when you are deaf.
How did the needs of customers change over the time?
Earlier we used to bake buns, now we don't. They are not very popular anymore. Now we order buns from a supplier, so that the assortment would be different.
Do you try to cook using natural ecological products?
Well, of course! They offered us a porridge flower, but we refused. We have a pealing machine and sometimes we buy pealed potatoes, so we don't need any chemicals. If we cook - we do that only for that day. We don't have to preserve that food. Cabbages or beet roots can be left for some hours. We only buy bread, everything else we cook.
Do you like experimenting in cooking?
Yes. When some of us reads or sees something new, we always try. If we like it, we cook that.
Do you like cooking shows on TV?
Yes, we do. But we don't have conditions to grow those herbs as they show in Oliver's. And he talks and cooks so fast - I can't follow him (laughing). But sometimes he advises really well.
Where would you work if not in a canteen?
I used to work as a cook when I didn't have a canteen of my own. I worked that way for three years and then left. Otherwise, I wouldn't have got an apartment. When I graduated from a high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do. My elder sister was working in a trade school in Panevėžys as a teacher. Earlier she graduated from an academy as a house worker. She offered me to try. And I liked it!
And you don't regret that decision?
No, of course not. Earlier I used to do sport. I was skating. Now I only go to the pool for a swim. I used to play badminton for the national team. And I loved the skating ring in the Vingis Park. Once a coach offered me to try professional ice skates. And now I would be so scared to skate! I would be scared to break my leg.
Did a lot things change after the Independence?
Well.. If not the Independence I would not be sitting here and talking to you. I wouldn't have my own post. At these times there was no business. Nowadays anyone can start their own company. So I feel great social inequality. It was not like that earlier.
Your company is called „Monika ir Viktorija" (Monika and Viktorija). Who is Viktorija?
She's my daughter. She used to work here a bit, I wanted her to be a cook. But she graduated from the university and decided to leave. So she won't be cook here.

Kalbamės su virėjomis Aklųjų kombinato valgykloje (LIREGUS)

How many people do there work in the canteen?
We have three cooks, three wash-up ladies and one cashier.
What are your names?
Liuda and Ramutė.
How long have you been working in this sphere?
In this canteen we both work for 13 years. In total we have been working in canteens for 25 years now.
Do you love your job?
Yes, we do.
Can the taste of your cooked dish depend on your mood? (I continue talking only with Liuda)
Yes, it depends. It depends on what you are cooking. The dish could be more salty or spicy, or it can be tasteless at all.
And what do you do if the dish is tasteless?
Well, we add something...we try to fix the taste. But we always try to make it tastier, because people pay for this.
Do you usually use some recipes or you just cook by heart?
We use recipes only the first times we cook a new dish as we don't know the ingredients. We have the recipe-book...
What is your favourite dish that you cook here?
I like everything, there's no exceptional dish.
Do you like making experiments while cooking?
We try, but if clients don't like something we try, we don't cook that way anymore. When we have a banquet, we can do more experiments with food.
Why with banquets?
Because our usual customers in the canteen are ordinary people, who eat simple dishes. While in banquets we usually decorate food and people expect something interesting than usual.
Could you name anything that you prepare for banquets especially?
We make salads with nuts or other additions. We also watch cooking shows on TV and try to do some dishes that they present.
Do you watch Oliver show?
Yes. But his dishes are too expensive for us (laughing). There are some ingredients in his salads we don't even know and we don't know where to get it, too. Our visitors are used to simple things, our things. Elite perhaps would also like to eat some simple dishes, but they have to eat something extraordinary so later they could talk to each other and say „and I was eating this and that...". Usually people who belong to elite don't come to eat here. Even though, some executives are our customers...
What is the philosophy or mission of your work?
We try to meet the expectations of our clients. We work as the client wants us to. We always think about the customer, so that the dish would be tasty for him. We love people... In general, we discuss about politics, about life philosophy. Sometimes we assume that if we were elected as politicians, we would do everything in the other way.
In what way?
We actually have a great idea: we could build a place, a home for the children who leave the orphanage when they grow up. This our biggest dream.
At what age do the children leave the orphanage?
When they are 18 years old. They just have to go away - nobody cares about them anymore.
We have noticed that usually we find generous and socially active people in the canteens...
Of course, we cook food, we think about people, so they would get something to eat, so they would be ok. It's not good if a person pays money and cannot eat what he has ordered.
So I assume you also have to be very tolerant?
Yes, sometimes customers say something rude, some upset us. But we keep on smiling anyway. We have all kinds of customers. Even funny ones, we laugh together sometimes.
Do you name your clients in some particular way?
I think no. Perhaps sometimes we call them in one or another way but only between ourselves. I recall one person who was always angry, so we called him „square-man".
Do you get any strange orders from customers?
Our clients look carefully at the new dishes, usually they don't order them too much. Sometimes they ask to serve only meat with vegetables. One client always asks to serve cepelinai (the Lithuanian national dish - a type of dumpling made from shredded potatoes and usually with forcemeat inside) in a simple flat plate, though usually this dish is served in a bowl.
Is there any dish that you cook everyday?
The soup of the year - the beetroot soup and the goulash.
Have the clients changed over the passed years? How?
If we were working in a cafe, perhaps we could tell more about it. In the canteen it's the same as before. Well, maybe we didn't have such vegetables like Napa cabbage. What else? In winter we didn't have fresh tomatoes or cucumbers, that now we have all year long. Earlier we used to get cutlets that were half made already. Or there used to be canteens that used to cook and distribute food to other canteens. Also in Soviet union period one couldn't change recipes, we all had the same recipes books.
Do young people come here?
Yes, they do. Students and young people who work around come to eat here.
What dish is the most popular?
Everyday it's different. For example, one day many people eat steaks. So for the next day we make lots of steaks, but customers eat something else more. We have great variety of dishes in the menu (12 - 17 dishes), so every day people have the choice.
When does your work day start?
At 7 a.m. We serve customers 10.30 a.m. - 2.30 p.m.
And how many people come here every day?
Around 150. A little bit less now. Earlier it used to be 300. And the queue used to reach the door.
Which element of the canteen is the most common?
Self-service. And simple dishes. Self-service is the most important, as you have to order and carry food yourself.
What do you think the Dutch eat for their lunch?
I think they eat meat. Perhaps the meat dishes mostly. Maybe beef. I think only Germans like the pork more. Perhaps some stews with meat.
Do you cook at home too? Or you let your husbands to do that?
If only our husbands could cook! (Ironically). Firstly, you have to find this kind of husband! (Laughing).
Couldn't you make your husband to cook?
You cannot. Unless you ask him in the way that he thinks he is doing something on his own will. Your generation is different. Our children have more simple approach. We had another order of life where a man didn't do any female work. Well, my husband sometimes heats the food if he finds something left. Usually we cook in the evening, and it's usually enough so that the family could eat the next day too. Well, it depends on the size of a family.
Do you sometimes take some food home from the canteen?
You can buy everything cheaper here. Earlier you could take anything for free. But usually there is nothing left.
Do you sort your waste for the recycling purpose?
There is one man who takes some waste and feeds animals with it. We give it for free. It would be a pity to through away food.
If you were not a cook, who would you be?
Liuda: I was dreaming of becoming a doctor. Ramutė: I was dreaming of becoming a sales-person, but later I had changed my mind. Jūratė: now I would go to work in the Parliament. I would take the position of the current speaker Valinskas. If I was in the Parliament, I would make more pastime activities in schools for free. Now everything costs a lot, and salaries are small. So children sit at home. Liuda: there are some activities for free, but if you want to do sports, it gets complicated. Nowadays a school doesn't motivate kids. We used to spend a lot of time at school. We used to be friendly with teachers. Nowadays there's no respect for elder left. For example, you are scared to say anything to a young man in a trolleybus, as you hear those kids cursing. It was different earlier. There's also no respect for ladies left - guys used to not curse when any lady was around. And they didn't smoke. They were more polite.
Perhaps you could tell some funny stories?
Well, visitors are calm here. We hold the banquets and no incidents at all.
And what about the interior? Who is responsible for creating it?
Well, our director is.
And how do you get along with the staff?
We don't fight, though sometimes things happen. We work together for a long time, so everyone knows his or her place and work. There's no need to give orders.

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