The pop-up aimed to highlight mental health issues affecting Japan’s elderly population.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 12, 2017
wrong order servers with dementia
Credit: Tyler Stableford / Getty Images

Few restaurant experiences are as frustrating as when a waiter gets your order wrong. But earlier this month, a pop-up restaurant in Japan turned those frustrations into a learning experience. Tokyo’s “The Restaurant of Order Mistakes” offered meals served entirely by volunteer waiters with dementia and Alzheimer’s in an effort to raise awareness about these brain diseases and help change patrons’ perceptions about those afflicted with these conditions. In a country that has a disproportionately large elderly population and a growing need to accommodate citizens with late-life mental illness.

The one-weekend pop-up, named as a play on words on the Japanese book The Restaurant of Many Orders, was held at Maggie’s Tokyo – an incarnation of the United Kingdom’s Maggie’s Centres which serve as support centers for people with cancer and their friends and families. Attendees went in fully aware that their orders might be served incorrectly. And indeed, mistakes were relatively common: As one Japanese food blogger posted on Twitter, someone from their group ordered a hamburger but was served dumplings instead. The error was worthy of a “good laugh,” and the food, which was prepared by professional chefs, was enjoyable nonetheless. However, as one guest pointed out to Yahoo News, when her food came out correctly, it wasn’t necessarily all it was cracked up to be either. “I feel relieved, but I feel a bit sad,” she said with a laugh. Apparently, when you go to The Restaurant of Order Mistakes, you want the restaurant to deliver on its name!

Overall, the event appeared to be a success, encouraging everyone involved to accept mistakes and enjoy “making them together,” as one of the people behind the project told Yahoo – bringing smiles and a sense of excitement to diners and servers alike. According to Bored Panda, the organizers are planning to bring the pop-up back for a week in September to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21. Sounds worthy of setting a reminder.