Going out to eat is a fun experience, but nobody likes it when your waiter gets your order wrong. It’s embarrassing for both parties and then you feel uncomfortable sending food back. But there’s one restaurant in Tokyo that made wrong orders its entire theme.
The pop-up Restaurant of Order Mistakes recently had a trial run in Tokyo’s Toyosu district. It was open from June 2 to June 4, 2017. It was also only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. That’s probably because its waitstaff needs the afternoon off for naps, watching their stories and playing bridge (or whatever is the Japanese equivalent).
That’s because this restaurant’s waitstaff is made up of the elderly. But, not just any senior citizens, elderly dementia patients. So, they may get your order wrong. But, the point of the restaurant is to enjoy the surprise.
The name of the restaurant was inspired by the bookThe Restaurant of Many Orders, by Kenji Miyazawa. In the book, two hunters are wandering around the woods when they come upon an impressive western-style restaurant. But once inside the restaurant, the hunters realized they were in for a whole world of trouble.
Food blogger Mizuho Kudo went to lunch during the pop-up trial and had an amazing time. She said that she had originally ordered a hamburger, but the waitress ended up bringing her gyoza dumplings instead. She didn’t mind, Kudo thought that the alternative was delicious.
Kudo also said that everyone was full of smiles and that people seemed to be enjoying the experience, especially the elderly waitstaff. It’s hard to have a bad time when you’re being served by the cutest little old ladies. People seemed to get a kick out of the whole idea, and the dementia sufferers were happy to participate.
The people and organizers behind this concept pop-up restaurant want people to change their misconceptions about degenerative brain illnesses. The premise is, if you go to the restaurant knowing your waiter will probably get your order wrong, you can just relax and just enjoy whatever comes your way. The organizers also wanted to show that people with dementia can still contribute to society.
Maggie’s Center is not an Alzheimer’s research center, but a cancer support center. It was co-founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks and dedicated to her legacy after she passed away from breast cancer in 1995. The first center opened up in Edinburgh in 1996. It has since opened over 20 centers throughout the UK and the Tokyo branch is one of its most recent expansions. While it is a cancer support organization, Maggie’s Tokyo felt the need to shed light on people suffering from other debilitating diseases as well.
In 2015, there were an estimated 46.8 million people living with dementia worldwide. By this year, that number is expected to reach 50 million. Every three seconds, someone will develop dementia around the world. Rates of dementia are higher in low-income countries. Countries like China and India, with large aging populations, also have higher rates of dementia.
If you missed the initial pop-up of the Restaurant of Order Mistakes, it may be coming back soon. Maggie’s Tokyo is planning on opening up the restaurant again to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21st.
The Restaurant of Order Mistakes isn’t the first restaurant around the world to employee elderly people or people with mental disabilities.
Enoteca Maria in Staten Island, New York, employs grandmas instead of chefs. After all, doesn’t your grandma cook better than anyone you know (don’t say that to your mom)? Owner Jody Scaravella employs grandmas from around the world, including places like Nigeria and Poland. Scaravella said that the grandmas can get a bit “dicey” with each other in the kitchen because they all think that they are the best cook.
Hugs Café in Texas hires people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities, to make them feel useful and to teach them life skills. In the United States, 80 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed. So this concept restaurant helps show that people with disabilities can contribute to society.
Cause Café in New York was a similar concept restaurant. The café hired people who were on the autism spectrum. It was created by a woman who wanted to have her two children with severe autism learn the value of work.
Well, we love the concept of the Restaurant of Order Mistakes. After all, we know that there’s no better way to be served a meal than being served by a lovely little grandmother … and if she forgot your order, even better.