Pop-Up Restaurant Only Employs Waitstaff With Dementia

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A pop-up restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, had a trial run earlier this month, and their waitstaff all suffered from dementia.

Dementia is a disease that unfortunately is on the rise. The number of people living with it worldwide is estimated at 47 million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This number is projected to increase to near 75 million in 2030 and almost triple to 132 million by 2050. 

However, despite those astounding numbers, there is only a general awareness about what living with dementia entails. Among the various stigmas attached to those who live with it are that dementia sufferers can’t function in society or are violent. But one restaurant is trying to change these negative perceptions one customer at a time.

This month in Tokyo, Japan, a pop-up restaurant called The Restaurant of Order Mistakes opened up for a trial run with a group of special employees to raise awareness and to spread a very important message.

While the name sounds like a mistake itself, the premise of the restaurant is just that — when you dine there, you may not receive your exact order. That's because the entire wait staff has dementia. The establishment is hoping that their patrons will realize that dementia patients can function and even thrive on a daily basis with a pinch of understanding and a dash of compassion.

Mizuho Kudo, a local food blogger, visited the restaurant and said she wholeheartedly enjoyed her experience. She took to Twitter to share her review with her followers. She ordered a hamburger for herself and for her grandmother initially, but Kudo ended up eating gyoza instead. She tweeted, “I’m fine dumplings came and had a good laugh.”

The trial run for The Restaurant of Order Mistakes has ended, but the founders plan to do another pop-up in September in observance of World Alzheimer’s Day. 

Another restaurant that is doing something similar is the Cause Café in Long Island, New York. Stacey Wohl opened the cozy Northport cafe in April to give her daughter, Brittney, 19, and son, Logan, 17, who both suffer from severe autism the chance to be employed in a traditional setting. 

"Just because they have a disability doesn't mean they can't do the same things we do," Wohl told TODAY. "They want to be productive, they want to be happy, they want to feel fulfilled, they want to be in society and feel good about themselves."

Since opening, the single mom now has a total of 15 employees, eight of whom are autistic. 

Hopefully, in the future, there will be more restaurants like these two all over the world. Do you know of a restaurant with a good hiring philosophy? Share it with us in the comments.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Alan Light

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