There are many negative stereotypes about people with dementia being incapable of functioning in society, but a new pop-up restaurant in Tokyo is trying to spread the message that dementia patients can flourish in the right setting. The Restaurant of Order Mistakes set up shop in Tokyo earlier this month to raise awareness about sufferers of dementia. All of the restaurant’s waiters have some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The concept, which riffs on Kenji Miyazawa’s 1924 story “The Restaurant of Many Orders,” is that you may not get what you originally ordered. Waiters may bring you the wrong order or forget your drinks.
The restaurant was opened with assistance from Maggie’s Tokyo, a charity that provides free support to cancer patients. The organization is hoping to show others how to be more inclusive toward older citizens with dementia. Though the trial run has ended, the founders say they want to do another pop-up on September 21, which is World Alzheimer’s Day.
There have been many other examples of food establishments hiring employees with mental disorders and disabilities. Jack’s Bar & Grill in Arvada, Colorado, hired 40 disabled adults. Sales at Jack's grew steadily over the years and the restaurant is looking into building a separate commercial prep kitchen to hire more disabled employees. Beau’s Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina, provides employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The owner, Amy Wright, has two children with Down syndrome, so she wanted to create an environment where anyone would be able to learn and thrive.