‘The Restaurant of Order Mistakes’ Employs Waiters With Dementia

the playful logo with a tongue sticking out and one of the characters (る) written sideways

On Friday last week, a curious restaurant popped up in Tokyo’s Toyosu district. It was called “The Restaurant of Order Mistakes” (注文をまちがえる料理店), a twist on The Restaurant of Many Orders, Kenji Miyazawa’s 1924 tale. Sure, it’s clever, but why a name for a restaurant? Because this pop-up restaurant had an inclusively-driven mission, and had hired waiters with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The premise of the pop-up restaurant, which was in a trial period from June 2 – June 4, 2017, was that the staff who have dementia may get your order wrong. But if you go in knowing that, it changes your perception about those who suffer from the brain disease and it makes you realize that with a little bit of understanding on our part dementia patients can be functioning members of society.

Mizuho Kudo, who attended the event and tweeted about her experience, wrote that they went in and ordered the hamburg but got gyoza dumplings instead, which was really funny. She also noted that the younger waiters were full of smiles and seemed to be having a lot of fun.

The restaurant was the brainchild of several like-minded folks including Maggie’s Tokyo, the Japanese reincarnation of U.K.-based Maggie’s Centres. And Maggie’s Tokyo is also where the pop-up restaurant was hosted. The short trial period has now ended but organizers are currently planning for another pop-up event in September to coincide with World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21st).

The group continues to host pop-up restaurants all around Japan. You can check their website for their latest activities.


  1. That is disgusting. Why don’t we make a “dirty” car wash staffed with paraplegics? Or how about hiring blind people to run a paint shop? Staff a cat house with rape victims… How far will this vile thinking go? “…inclusively-driven mission” – yeah right 🙁

  2. “they went in and ordered the hamburg but got gyoza dumplings instead, which was really funny.“

    Let’s try to understand people by making fun of them and their problems! This is vile. Attention needs to be brought to people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases but this is not the way you do it. The people in charge of this should be ashamed.

    • There are some nuances that got lost in translation, and I apologize for that. The woman who dined there wasn’t laughing at the waiters but at the fact that the exact thing happened that was implied in the restaurant’s name.

      I think it’s great that they’re raising awareness for dementia with a sense of humor while also creating jobs for many who otherwise feel excluded from society.

  3. This is why this concept will not work in caucasian countries lol. Too many critical dicks who miss the whole point.

  4. I don’t understand why there is so much hate on this article. As a person who watched their Great grandma die from Alzheimer’s and Dementia, I personally think this idea is great. I cared for my great grandma until she died. I watched her disease progress slowly over 5 years. The idea is not to make fun of people with this disease but to bring awareness. The woman who thought it was funny that she got something different then what she ordered definetly didn’t mean it with ill intent. I remember getting sad and angry when my great grandma forgot who I was. Whenever I would correct her mistakes she would get frustrated and often times decline in health, so I stopped doing that all together. Dementia and Alzheimer’s is not something that can be stopped so I think the overall concept is to not get so frustrated when they make mistakes. Go with the flow and enjoy the time you have left with them.

  5. “You never know what will happen next” is exactly the kind of life one leads living with someone who has a degenerative neurological condition. Perfect. 🙂

  6. There is a coffeehouse that I read about a few months back that employees those with developmental challenges. It is a huge success and brought the community together by fostering awareness and inclusion.

  7. My only question that I can’t seem to find the answer to is, how much does it cost for the meal. Lets say I order a simple burger and fries but get filet mignon steak and potatoes. Do I pay the burger price or do I have to pay the steak price? Or is it one price for every meal option.

  8. personally i feel this is a great concept for the people with such diseases and then its good for the family to see them happy too.
    moreover i would love to dine in such restro’s because its soo exciting to have something that we would not have otherwise.
    there are problems too with the concept but iam sure the owner would be able to sort them out…
    but as whole its a great concept

  9. I used to work in an aged care facility and would come into contact with the elderly suffering from dementia on a daily basis for the whole day. Doing it required a massive paradigm shift and I found myself actually going along with whatever the resident did and said. As long and he/she weren’t putting themselves in danger, they could do anything.
    This restaurant of order mistakes is such a great idea. It gets these people involved, engaged and active…and we all know that activity keeps the mind going and this could be the key to delaying the progression of this dreadful disease called Alzheimers.

    I really hope this concept comes to Singapore where I reside. I am pretty sure it will be a huge hit.

  10. I think it’s brilliant. Lots of learning and experience gained on both sides. How wonderful for these sufferers to feel they still have some worth…. well done Tokyo…

  11. The first two comments are strange. This restaurant is a great opportunity to give those with dementia company, stimulation and something to occupy their time rather than just sit in a home. It gives them purpose and allows others to be a part of their lives as customers.

  12. Katy: Maybe all meals cost the same? That would help.

  13. Andrea Vicencio

    June 13, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I think the people who tought this idea was disgusting are just watching from a different perspective. From their comments (especially the 1st one) its like they think this restaurant is some sort of freakshow, but I just fail to see it that way.
    Everytime somebody goes out there to break a paradigm, critics will follow. If you get uncomfortable seeing the situation this people live on a daily basis then there’s just some adjustment you need to make for yourself, it’s called empathy. We must start including everyone in society and that means allowing jobs like this to come out.
    I think everyone makes mistakes and it can be hilarious, let’s stop getting offended by everything.

  14. I love this idea – as long as the dementia sufferers like what they do and don’t get too frustrated and upset by having trouble with details. If diners go in with a sense of compassion and an open heart, every meal could be an adventure. What a lovely way to live life – taking things as they come, not always demanding our own way. This restaurant idea could be just as good for diners as for the staff. Thanks for sharing this article, Johnny! This is why I love the Spoon & Tamago site.

  15. Inclusion I really really like the idea …but this implementation leaves a whole lot to be desired ! Here’s the thing all people want to feel normal to belong and to know that they contribute to their worldin some meaningful way . If I ever have dementia I would ask please please set me up to succeed . I would want meaningful activities for me that use my long term memory, use my old or “over learned skill” and that allows me to remenisce and chat about things that involve feelings my thoughts or even recent things that do not need exact or fact filled discussion and I will function so well you probably will treat me normally. I will also be able to contribute some activity that is helpful ,meaningful and at the same time is not amusing or pity invoking to you. It is possible for the role depicted in restaurant of mistakes would feel demeaning or embarrassing for me, However here’s the other thing it may not it might be a great laugh for me and you because like everything else we do in life it’s good when it suits our personality and matches our interests or provides a feeling of achievement . People who worked in the restaurant industry prior to dementia may find that for this dementia related activity fits the bill for them on the other hand while the overlearned skills would help they may turn round and tell you that they hated their job, lol . So there you have it individuals need specific and personalised activities plans and I do hope that the people in this restaurant of mistakes is such a activity for the people with dementia who are working in it . Let’s face it the people in the picture do look like they are all having a good time. With enough promps and ques to support many people with early to even moderate dementia (PwD) ,don’t have to make the sorts of mistakes that this article implies are common . PwD th can in the right setting still function very very well . If This restaurant if set up to enable intact skills to override failing short term memory and the people working there give consent to act as public awareness advocates it is indeed something that could be a valuable innovative way to help the general public better understand what PwD need and what they need …meaningful avtivity meaningful conversations and a feeling of being able to contribute in life .When truly set up to succeed PwD can still function and still be productive, contribute and still have a sense of fulfilment. I know this from a twenty year career specialising in geriatric nursing . So along with understanding and compassion the best thing to do to assist people with dementia is set them up to succeed . With the right prompts and cues in place not only would it be highly likely the diners would get the food they ordered but the people with dementia working there wouldn’t need a restaurant with a negative name “order mistakes ” which while amusing to some would be a reminder to others of their failing memories and slipping skills undermine their capacity to do relatively simple tasks . I do like the concept of providing meaningful roles for people with dementia because loss of life roles only adds to the isolation and depression that people with dementia and their primary carers often suffer . I like the awareness raising aspect of this idea but I think there is more in this concept than the article depicts or if not then more that could be built into this concept that could add value to the experience for both the people working in the resturant and those dinning in it too.

  16. Noble idea.A moment of reflection.

  17. I don’t think anyone can coment with any justified criticism or praise of this concept restaurant until they’ve actually eaten there. I hope that settles the score with some of the haters and some of those who are gushingly thrilled about it. I imagine the idea is about rehabilitative care and ongoing therapy for those who really do need more in their life while facing a debilitating life situation- not a bed in an institute. To clarify, Would I teach someone who’s losing their eyesight and going blind how to paint before its to late for them to see? Absolutely. Or To let one hear a sonata one last time before the onset of deafness? Of course. Maybe dementia and alshiemer’s need a lot more social consideration, and compassion, rather then hiding and denning our friends and family member’s need to be loved and belong?

  18. I feel that those who are choosing to attack this project are probably those who have had very little interaction with the very people they are defending. Quite a blind-sighted and ignorant thing to do. Like any society, giving people work gives them a sense of purpose and makes them feel like a valued member of their community. Take that away from them and what do they have left? As long as there is a clear sense that the project is being run with care and sensitivity towards the waiters then isn’t this a progressive step forward into understanding issues on alzheimers and dementia? Generating conversation on an illness that can cause a lot of pain and throwing in a bit of humour can only be a good thing because if you can’t laugh, then you might as well cry.

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