Imagine entering a restaurant and receiving the wrong order - it can be frustrating. But what if the waiting staff serving you were individuals battling dementia? This is precisely what the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders offers - a pop-up restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, staffed by individuals with dementia.
The restaurant aims to create a unique experience that promotes inclusivity, breaks down barriers, and raises awareness about disabilities.
The restaurant gained international attention after a video about it went viral on social media. The footage showed customers' reactions to receiving incorrect orders and their interactions with staff.
According to the restaurant's official website, mistakenorders.com, it has won one of the world's most prestigious creative awards in advertising, the Cannes Lion.
Shiro Oguni, owner of the restaurant founded this pop-up restaurant to raise awareness about communicating with people of determination. The restaurant's website features a video explaining this concept. It started in 2017, and since then, it has been running successfully.
The restaurant offers a supportive and secure environment for people of determination to thrive, work, and showcase their abilities. Additionally, it aims to inspire other enterprises to hire people of determination and create more opportunities for them. Ninety-nine per cent of clients were satisfied with their experiences, even if their staff made a mistake with 37 per cent of the orders, states the website.
The restaurant has a minimal yet modern interior. "Most of the servers and waiters are elderly and have dementia, which often leads to incorrect orders. However, 99 per cent of the customers never complain but smile and laugh, expressing a deeper understanding. It is more than just a restaurant,” says Oguni.
Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 70 per cent of cases. It can be caused by several diseases that gradually destroy nerve cells and harm the brain, leading to a decline in cognitive function, as per the World Health Organisation. Unfortunately, the disease is irreversible and has no cure.
On the website, it explains how Japan is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of people with Alzheimer's disease. People tend to misunderstand individuals with dementia, which leads to their complete isolation from society. However, Oguni believes these individuals have a lot to offer, which is the purpose of this pop-up restaurant. It aims to create an open-minded and accepting environment that raises awareness about dementia and reduces its social stigma.
"The unique experience of dining at the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders has become a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Customers interact with workers and enjoy the food that's been served. Even if you don't get what you ordered, the restaurant ensures that every dish served is delicious," added Oguni.
According to their website, the restaurant also offers training programs for businesses and organisations to learn about disability inclusion and communication. By expanding its reach, the restaurant hopes to have an even more significant impact on promoting inclusivity and changing perceptions about people of determination.
The initiative has gained popularity on social media, with people expressing support for its implementation. The video has gone viral, and garnered over 144K views.
An Instagram user@costafella commented: "Precision and pursuit of excellence is so prevalent in Japanese culture that mistakes are considered charming, not aggravating."
Another Instagram user @ anandiprendasy wrote, "Love the idea of empowering elderly people. It is vital to eradicate the notion of elderly people not being productive or being a burden for society."
Users advocate for its adoption in other countries, hoping to see its positive impact on a wider scale.