What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Extra attention is on the menu at this restaurant catering to cognitive disorders

In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, a Massachusetts restaurant is leading the way for families dealing with autism, Alzheimer's and other cognitive disorders by offering a routine -- but special -- dinner reservation. Tina Martin of WGBH reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too.

    One Massachusetts restaurant is leading the way for families dealing with autism, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. It’s not through research or fund-raising, but a routine dinner reservation.

    Tina Martin of PBS station WGBH explains.

  • Tina Martin:

    Sam Sexer and her mother, Julie, are enjoying a healthy lunch in a beautiful setting at the Red Raven Restaurant in Acton.

  • Sam Sexer:

    I always give her the best seat, so now she can look out the window, which she likes.

  • Tina Martin: 

    It may seem like nothing out of the ordinary, but it means the world to Sexer. Her mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so going out to eat has become more difficult.

  • Sam Sexer:

    I tried to look for other restaurants, and I had kind of given up a bit, so to hear about this place and the reservation was great for us.

  • Tina Martin:

    The reservation is called Purple Table, created by the restaurant owner Jenifer Apazidis, and now available at a handful of restaurants in Massachusetts.

  • Jenifer Apazidis:

    Someone can call up make a Purple Table reservation, and that reservation flag basically tells us that someone is coming in that may be living with Alzheimer’s, living with dementia, have a child with autism, so basically someone in that party might need a little extra care and attention and patience while we are serving them.

  • Tina Martin:

    That means seating families in a quiet area of the restaurant, and patience to repeat menu items more than once.

  • Jenifer Apazidis:

    So the staff have been trained to approach the table a little differently, to speak patiently, to not clang plates at the table.

  • Tina Martin:

    Apazidis says the idea came out of her own experience.

  • Jenifer Apazidis:

    My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her late 50s, and one of her favorite things to do was go out to eat.

    We found that, as her disease progressed, it was really difficult for her to go out to eat and communicate with the servers.

  • Tina Martin:

    Apazidis and her family stopped going out as a result, but she didn’t believe that was a good solution for her family or others, so she started the reservations.

    One of the specially trainer servers is Jackson Shoults.

  • Jackson Shoults:

    It’s just any folks that might need a little extra amenities when they go out to eat, whether that’s time, attention, caring, explaining whatever it may be. So working with them, it’s just going the extra mile.

  • Tina Martin:

    Shoults says the biggest part of his training is patience, and it goes a long way the families.

  • Jackson Shoults:

    So, usually, they are very happy to go out to be able to do something that some people might find normal and mundane, but, for them, it’s a little bit special.

  • Tina Martin:

    For Liz Gross and her husband, Dennis, who suffers from dementia, the extra attention makes going out to eat fun again.

  • Woman:

    Its nice to be catered to, because it doesn’t happen all the time.

  • Tina Martin:

    For Liz Gross, her husband, Dennis, Sam Sexer and her mom, Julie, and for many other families with members who have challenges, the restaurant provides a safe and secure atmosphere to enjoy a meal.

    And the trend is catching on. There is now a Purple Table reservations app for smartphones.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Tina Martin in Acton, Massachusetts.

Listen to this Segment

Latest News