Thursday, January 24, 2019

Makan with MosAIC: ADA Café Warms Your Heart and Your Tummy


If you’re hungry, in Toa Payoh and want to support a good cause, look no further than ADA Café.

Set up in November 2016 by the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, it is the first café in Singapore in which F&B work meets therapy for persons with younger onset dementia. mosAIC found warmth in the hearty comfort food and friendly smiles of staff when it popped by the Café for lunch late December.

The environment

Agape Village at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh where ADA Café is located;

Blink and you might miss the café, which is tucked away on the ground floor of Agape Village. Serving a crowd that has grown by word-of-mouth – like those working at the nearby car showrooms – the traffic moves at a slower pace conducive for persons with dementia to work in.

Hand-drawn chalkboards welcome patrons at the door and once inside, one is greeted by a big stuffed bear proudly donning an ADA Café apron. The homey atmosphere holds up throughout the café. A large feature wall on one side is chockful of art pieces created by ADA clients during therapy sessions, alongside brochures for dementia clients and caregivers.

Feature wall at Café displays artwork and trinkets made
Learn more about dementia at the Café.

The food

Comfort food at reasonable portion and prices. Rosemary Chicken Pasta (S$6), Hearty Beef Stew (S$7), Cod Fish and Chips - a Daily Special (S$7). Coffee (S$1.80 each) and Dilmah Tea (S$2.50). Prices not including GST. There is no service charge.

The food, though unpretentious, is comforting and filling. Our orders would not have gone amiss in a family-style Western joint.

As the kitchen can accommodate only induction cookers, the food menu sticks to all-day breakfast items, and Asian and Western mains. Keep an eye out for the ‘Daily Specials’ like the cod fish and chips.

All items are reasonably priced. Considering that drinks like our coffee and tea are no more than $2.50, one can easily find a satisfying meal in this comfortable air-conditioned environment for $10 or less.

Also, with Chinese New Year just around the corner, we heard that there will be CNY goodies up for sale at the Café!

As ADA is a non-profit organisation, proceeds from the Café are channelled back into their programs after accounting for the operating cost.

The staff

Adding to the comfortable atmosphere are the staff who make the café unique. Six of them have younger onset dementia and are aged 48 to 77. Three work on a voluntary basis while the others are paid an honorarium. That lunch we met Uncle Henry, 77, who takes pride in his work, which ranges from preparing ingredients and clearing tables to tending the garden behind the café.

ADA screens the aptitude and preference of their “recruits” with dementia, giving them the option to work with customers or tackle back-end operational work such as ingredient preparation.

Apart from the clients with dementia, the rest of the full-time staff at ADA Café are trained in dementia care - including the chef! This ensures that the working environment is tailored to persons with dementia, unlike other F&B establishments.

Uncle Henry, 77, is lively and cheerful, good with his hands 

The cause

ADA Café started out as a safe space for persons with younger onset dementia to work in and keep active, rather than stay home all day with little engagement. Owing to their collective love for food, the ADA staff settled on the idea of a café among other potential business ideas.

The café’s dementia care-trained crew also spend time interacting with clients who attend ADA’s Family of Wisdom programme in the cafe. While the clients engage in the activities, their caregivers catch a breather.

Garden at the back of the Café tended to by staff.

F&B or retail business who are interested in engaging persons with dementia as part of their workforce may approach ADA to learn more. Or if you have some time to spare and would love to get involved, ADA Café is on the lookout for volunteer bakers and a graphic designer. To get in touch, please email call 6389 5112.

Don’t forget to drop by to say hello to the friendly staff at ADA Café if you’re in the vicinity!

ADA Café

Address: 7A Lorong 8 Toa Payoh, #01-01, Agape Village, Singapore 319264

Tel: 6904-4095

Opening hours: Mondays – Fridays, 8.30am to 5.30pm

Getting there:

Google Map:

By car: Limited spaces are available at Agape Village. HDB carpark spots can also be found around the area.

By bus: From Toa Payoh interchange, take Bus 238. Alight at the bus-stop at Toa Payoh Lor 8, Block 227


Disclaimer: mosAIC’s editorial team paid for our own meal at the Café.

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