A restaurant in Palmer Lake is changing the way it serves the community by setting aside a special evening once a month to cater to families of children with sensory processing disorder.
On the first Tuesday of every month, Dex’s Diner, which sits right across from Palmer Lake, closes down to the public and opens its doors to families who could use a night out without all of the distractions.
They turn down the lights, cover up the display cases, and even alter the menu.
“As a parent with a special needs child, I know how difficult it is to really go out and just go anywhere.” Dex’s Diner co-owner Gregory Duncan said. “You just never know how other people will react or think, and it just touches me knowing that I can do something that no one has ever done for me.”
Gregory and his wife Darcy opened Dex’s Diner in February. Now they’ve started these special Tuesday evenings in honor of Gregory’s daughter, Naveah.
“One of the families told us that it made their whole month because their children were able to sit on the floor, play with chalk, and there was no judgment from other customers,” Darcy said.
“If you have a kiddo with any type of sensory processing disorder and you want to go out to a restaurant, there are so many overwhelming things and triggers that could be in the restaurant,” Jaclyn Archibeque, co-founder and executive director of Atlas Autism, said,
With Archibeque’s help, Dex’s Diner is allowing these families to have an easy eating experience in a home away from home.
“I just want to get this going a lot more and let families out there know there is a place they can come that makes them feel like they’re wanted, the kids are wanted, and we would do anything in our power to make them feel more at home here,” Gregory said.
Dex’s Diner is also helping out little entrepreneurs. Think lemonade stands with a little help.
Local kiddos can use a mini cart in the parking lot of the restaurant and sell their goods out of it. Dex’s Diner does the advertising for them, giving these kids a taste of running their own business.
“They can come and they can rent the cart,” Darcy said. “There’s no charge. They sell whatever they want. They keep the profits and then when they’re done we actually have a profit and loss worksheet for them so that they can see what it’s like to run a business for a day.”