Restaurant sets new dining example in Columbus

Amazing Joe’s in Columbus has just started doing something this is … well, amazing.

For one day a month — the second Sunday — and for a few special hours, the restaurant is making things simpler. They are making things more inclusive. They are making their business more friendly for those living with dementia, their family and their caregivers.

For a few hours, Amazing Joe’s is just making things a little bit easier for families that could probably use the relief.

The steps the restaurant has taken to achieve this goal may seem small, but they are groundbreaking in Indiana, as Amazing Joe’s is the first restaurant in the state to offer dementia-friendly dining under the Dementia Friends initiative. They will launch their simplified dining experience Sunday, and with it will come several changes to the restaurant between 2 and 4 p.m.

The restaurant created a new “Forget-Me-Not” menu, which will be smaller, cut down from 80 items to eight. That could help prevent confusion and make food selection easier. The new menus also use larger fonts and, importantly, have color photos of each item to help patrons identify what they want to order. Food items that are finger-friendly — hamburgers, chicken tenders — are also included to make the experience easier for someone with motor-coordination difficulty.

These are positive and welcome steps, but the changes go beyond just menu alterations.

Amazing Joe’s is also working to cut down on the sheer cacophony that can regularly accompany a dining out experience by turning down the music to a lower volume during the two-hour window. The staff will also try to seat patrons requesting the special menu near the kitchen, as the smells could help induce eating.

Cutting down on any distractions and any of the inconveniences of dining out is a good thing. Anything that can be done to make a meal out a less daunting experience is a positive step.

Hopefully, more restaurants take notice of what Amazing Joe’s is creating with this initiative, because it’s truly something that should be celebrated.

It may only be once a month, but families who might avoid going out for a meal now know they have a place to go in Columbus that will be more accommodating to their situation.

It’s a small step, but it’s a great start.