A new restaurant with a focus on promoting opportunities for people with Down syndrome has opened its doors in Belvaux.
Madame Witzeg (Luxembourgish for amusing lady) is the first restaurant to be opened by the Trisomie 21 asbl. The non-profit strives to help people with Down syndrome live independent, fulfilling lives. Founded in 2000, it encourages autonomy for people with the disability, helping to secure a professional future, and providing support for concerned families.
From Monday 23 January, Madame Witzeg will be open for lunch on weekdays. The restaurant provides employment and internship opportunities for eight people with disabled worker status.
Through working at the restaurant, employees learn about gastronomy and the principles of working in the restaurant industry, with the hope that their experience here will provide interested employees and interns with a stepping stone into the broader industry. The restaurant is staffed by educators and chefs as well as staff with cognitive disabilities.
The only thing about eating at the restaurant that is slightly different from usual is the ordering system - customers are asked to complete an order sheet, ticking the items that they would like to order. This allows every employee to take orders, regardless of whether they are able to read and write.
Opening the restaurant has been a long process, as receiving approved status under the agreement for professional inclusion requires that owners fulfil a number of criteria; among them are an educational concept, and accessible facilities for all. The restaurant finally received government approval as an inclusive workspace in October 2022.
As a recognised workshop, the restaurant receives support from the Ministry of Family and Labour. Madame Witzeg also raised capital through crowdfunding.
Video report in Luxembourgish