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New American diner opened for disabled people

PUBLISHED: 08:35 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:35 20 November 2018

Nick Leonard at the new american style diner  at Genesis Orwell Mencap Diner  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nick Leonard at the new american style diner at Genesis Orwell Mencap Diner Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN


It is a swanky diner which brings a touch of American culture to the streets of Ipswich.

But this is no ordinary restaurant - as the brand new US-style eatery has been created to help support people with learning disabilities.

The Genesis Orwell Mencap facility in Wright Road, Ipswich chose to create the new diner after its old canteen became run down.

Nick Leonard, finance manager at Genesis, said: “We asked our customers what they wanted and they came up with the idea for an American-style diner.

“It’s gone down really well. It can be busy but that’s a good thing.”

Nick Leonard at the new american style diner at Genesis Orwell Mencap Diner  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNick Leonard at the new american style diner at Genesis Orwell Mencap Diner Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He added: “We wanted it to be a place where no matter what their ability customers feel they can come in and choose something from the menu.”

Every detail in the 60-seat diner has been carefully planned.

The serving counter is at a lower height so it is easier for wheelchair users to see what tasty items are on offer.

Many of the tables are also height adjustable so that wheelchairs can fit underneath them, making for a more enjoyable dining experience for customers.

There are also sensory tubes which help people relax and the simple, healthy menu features pictures of each dish making it easier for customers to understand what they can order.

Mr Leonard said it took a year to convert the industrial unit into the diner.

He admitted there were challenging moments along the way, particularly levelling the uneven floor.

However Nicola Little, manager of the diner, says customers are delighted with it.

She said: “It’s a nice change from the canteen and everything is working well.

“It is busy from when it opens at 9am until when it shuts at 2pm.

“It’s lighter, brighter and it’s nice to have some good music on the jukebox.”

The diner will be officially opened on Wednesday, November 21 by the mayor of Ipswich at an event hosted by the BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Mark Murphy.

Nino Serritiello, chief executive officer of Genesis Orwell Mencap, said: “On Wednesday we are delighted to officially open our new 60-seater American themed diner which adds to the many specialist facilities on our Wright Road site.”

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