Birt’s Bistro in Surprise the First Arizona Eatery to Offer “Dementia-Friendly” Dining

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Posted By on March 18, 2020

For older adults living with dementia and their loved ones, a seemingly simple experience like dining out can lead to considerable stress and anxiety. A local organization has taken steps to change that, however, and is the first restaurant in the state to offer dementia-friendly dining. 

Birt’s Bistro at Benevilla, an eatery and social enterprise on the grounds of the larger Benevilla campus in Surprise, is the first restaurant in the state to utilize the resources made available by the Purple Table Project. The project, launched by Benevilla Vice President of Program Operations Courtney Allen, provides special training opportunities for hospitality workers so they can better serve guests with dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, autism spectrum disorders and similar conditions.

“I will be working with the Birt’s Bistro team to educate them and provide training in dementia and the understanding of it so Birt’s can become the first dementia-friendly restaurant in Arizona,” Allen said.  “Birt’s is planning to open one night a month for families who are living with dementia to provide a high quality and unique experience to these families and individuals. Benevilla is very excited to be part of this fellowship.”

Part of the training involves workers donning goggles, gloves and headphones blaring loud music before performing basic tasks, such fastening buttons. The idea of the exercise is not to “mimic” dementia, but rather, to simulate the difficulties associated with having distorted perception and diminished cognition. Caregivers of dementia patients also offer insight into their daily lives during the training.

In addition to training hospitality workers at Birt’s Bistro, The Purple Table Project encourages other Surprise-area restaurants to follow their lead and adopt a more dementia-friendly approach. With the city having a significantly older population than the average American community, it is especially important for businesses there to work to accommodate aging audiences. For more about Birt’s Bistro, check out BirtsBistro.com.

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