Starting tonight, and the second Thursday of every month, Guisseppe's restaurant in Old Bridge is teaming up with the Old Bridge Special Education PTA to support those families who typically find it a challenge to go out to eat with their special needs kids.

(Guisseppe's Old Bridge staff, photo from Diane Michael)

Parents of special needs kids don't have it easy, especially when it comes to dining out. The Old Bridge Special Education PTA realizes that those families have to think about an entirely different approach to dining out including acceptance, social interactions, food preparation, engaging with people, sensory processing issues, and more.

It is truly important for restaurants to modify these barriers and make the small changes necessary for a successful dining experience for these families.

Guisseppe's in Old Bridge has always been a huge supporter of the Old Bridge School District and their special needs kids. That's why, starting tonight and the 2nd Thursday of every month, they are offering a special dining experience which includes order-ahead meals to assist with waiting times, table reservations, dine-in or take-out options, dimming the lights and lowering the music as needed, and Wi-Fi. They want to provide a family-friendly neighborhood place where EVERY one can feel at home.

In addition to that, Guisseppe's will donate 15% of the proceeds from those families who participate to the Special Education PTA so that the money will go directly back to the schools, the children, and the staff.

The Special Needs PTA  will be on hand with a  "Borrow Box" which includes sensory bins, sensory bottles, games, fidgets, arts and crafts, rolling pins to roll pizza dough, etc. to provide activities for kids who are impatient.

Visual menu to assist kids in ordering, photo from Diane Michael

And the Old Bridge School district Speech and Language Department has created alternative augmentative picture menus to help a child order for themselves.

Guisseppe's is located at 2581 Highway 516 in Old Bridge.

Let's hope this will serve as a model for other school districts and restaurants at the Jersey Shore to come together to help our special needs community. Here's to happy dining!