The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders: A Tokyo Restaurant Where All the Servers Are People Living with Dementia

If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know that in Japanese restaurants, mistakes are not made. And on the off chance that a mistake is made, even a trivial one, the lengths that proprietors will go to make things right with their customers must, in the eyes of a Westerner, be seen to be believed. But as its name suggests, the Tokyo pop-up Restaurant of Mistaken Orders does things a bit differently. “You might think it’s crazy. A restaurant that can’t even get your order right,” says its English introduction page. “All of our servers are people living with dementia. They may, or may not, get your order right.”

Un-Japanese though that concept may seem at first, it actually reflects realities of Japanese society in the 21st century: Japan has an aging population with an already high proportion of elderly people, and that puts it on track to have the fastest growing number of prevalent cases of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Whole towns have already begun to structure their services around a growing number of citizens with dementia. But dementia itself remains “widely misunderstood,” says Restaurant of Mistaken Orders producer Shiro Oguni in the “concept movie” at the top of the post. “People believe you can’t do anything for yourself, and the condition will often mean isolation from society. We want to change society to become more easy-going so, dementia or no dementia, we can live together in harmony.”

You can see more of the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders in last year’s “report movie” just above, which shows its team of servers with dementia in action. Some shown are in middle age, some are in their tenth decade of life, but all seem to have a knack for building rapport with their customers — a skill that anyone who has ever worked front-of-the-house in a restaurant will agree is essential, especially when mistakes happen. We see them deliver orders both correct and incorrect, but the diners seem to enjoy the experience either way: “37% of our orders were mistaken,” the restaurant reports, “but 99% of our customers said they were happy.” This contains another truth about Japanese food culture that anyone who has eaten in Japan will acknowledge: whatever you order, the chance of its being delicious is approximately 100%.

via Kottke

Related Content;

The French Village Designed to Promote the Well-Being of Alzheimer’s Patients: A Visual Introduction to the Pioneering Experiment

In Touching Video, People with Alzheimer’s Tell Us Which Memories They Never Want to Forget

How Music Can Awaken Patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Dementia Patients Find Some Eternal Youth in the Sounds of AC/DC

In Japanese Schools, Lunch Is As Much About Learning As It’s About Eating

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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Comments (17)
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  • Tracey says:

    Great initiative, and a whole new level of acceptance for people with dementia.

  • janet says:

    love this concept

  • King Siong Lee says:

    Great initiative to teach and encourage society to love and support one another, regardless of our frailties and shortcomings. Hope this model will be used in more places in the world.

  • Don Gibson says:

    This is a great idea, not just to show society that people with dementia need love, care and acceptance but I would think giving them the opportunity to use the mental and physical skills they have might help to slow the progression of their dementia.

  • azteclady says:

    A lovely way to spread empathy.

  • Otis Wong says:

    This is so wholesome. I want to see who was the 1% that was not happy LOL

  • Alma Delucchi says:

    If we keep living that’s the next step. Since we are all on our way to YKW, death is the only way to avoid this step. You may want to try vegetarian meals and ditch all meds.

  • Robert Goldin says:

    Wonderful and moving.

  • Martin Harsono says:

    A very Noble Enterprise that is 100% INSPIRATIONAL. The Restaurant looks Gorgeous, the Food looks Delicious, the Waitpersons Smart ‘n Happy – as are the Customers. I watched both the First and Second Videos with tears in my eyes – enjoying them both enormously. This heartwarming story has restored my faith in Human Kindness. Next time I visit my 98 year old Mother in Indonesia, I shall show her the video to inspire her. Bravo! And Thank You ALL!

  • judy wilson says:

    I think that is VERY sweet……Hope all the orders are the same price1 : )

  • Ele kawamura says:

    How absolutely precious and heart warming. Brought tears to my eyes!!! Must share this.

  • Betty Takata says:

    Beautiful story of compassion!
    Mahalo/Thank you4 sharing.

  • Mary Anne says:

    So true, I’m also curious who is the 1%unhappy person, lol☺️🤔 This is such a great loving compassionate idea. Where is this in Japan, I want to go and visit! We all need this these days, to be humble, appreciative of our elders and most of all to give back to them. God bless!

  • Byron Bader says:

    You could be next and wouldn’t this kind of action be welcomed by the family of the person with dementia to know there’s a path to keep living “life” in a caring way by people who care. I commend Japan for placing action on this very common trait of life.

  • Sherry says:

    America needs restaurants like this, full of laughter and camaraderie.

  • Dale Matteo says:

    I have read your blog. You have given good information. Hardees has been around since 1961, and it has grown into one of the biggest hamburger chains in the country. The menu at Hardee’s is always changing to keep up with customers’ tastes. Today we’re going to talk about all the delicious items on their menu that you can’t resist!

  • Dou_ says:

    Good to know.

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