New Memory Cafe opens for those with dementia and Alzheimers

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 12:38:43-04

For those living with dementia, going out in the community can be difficult. That's why the county is working toward making the Milwaukee area more dementia friendly by opening Memory Cafes.

On Thursday, the county dedicated Daddy's Soul Food and Grille as its fifth Memory Cafe. The restaurant is located at 27th and Wells Streets.

As a Memory Cafe, Daddy's becomes a place where once a month, people with dementia or Alzheimer's can go with their caregivers to socialize, eat and relax without judgment. They can meet others going through similar battles and take a break from thinking about the diagnosis.

"They tell us if they're not eating in their own kitchen they don't mind eating our food and that just makes us smile," said Angela Smith, who owns Daddy's with her husband Bennie.

Becoming an official Memory Cafe hits home for Bennie, whose father battled a memory disease.

"My father is passed and gone so when other people come in, I'm able to understand what it is to be able to help other people," he said.

Bennie has a photo of his father on the wall at his restaurant. On Friday, they added another photo, Lillie Williams.

Williams used to come to Daddy's with her daughters before her death. The county invited her daughters to the dedication ceremony on Friday.

Melody Williams says it was an honor to see that photo on the wall.

"I just got full like I am right now," Melody said. "My mother was 96 when she passed. She was the most beautiful person but this disease...we lost her twice."

Cranky Al's in Wauwatosa has been operating as a Memory Cafe for the last year and they're glad to see another restaurant join in.

"It makes it more acceptable so people aren't afraid to go out to eat with their loved ones or someone they're taking care of," said Joey Carioti, one of the partners at Cranky Al's. "They know it's a safe place to enjoy pizza and a donut."

Other Memory Cafes in the county include Miss Katie's Diner at 1900 W. Clybourn St., Three Lions Pub at 4515 N. Oakland Ave. and Ferch's Malt Shoppe and Grill at 5636 Broad St. in Greendale.

The Milwaukee County Department on Aging plans to add a sixth Memory Cafe to its list next month with St. Francis Brew Pub.

The department is also working on a pilot program with Uber to provide a safe transportation method for those with dementia.