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West Newsmagazine 4-11-18

Local news, local politics and community events for West St. Louis County Missouri.

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FACEBOOK.COM/WESTNEWSMAGAZINE WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM West County Center to host Autism Eats dining event By JESSICA MESZAROS On April 15, West County Center and Autism Speaks will host Autism Eats, a sensory-friendly dining experience at three of the mall’s restaurants: Bravo! Cucina, J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks and Seafood, and McCormick & Schmick’s. “It’s a privilege to work with Autism Speaks to offer families this special time to dine out when they can relax and not feel like ‘all eyes are on them,’” Sean Phillips, marketing director for West County Center, said. “Since other diners ‘get it’ there is no need to explain any behaviors. It’s a great opportunity to have a meal out with other families in an autism-friendly, nonjudgmental environment.” According to Phillips, the participating restaurants will offer sensory-friendly elements like dimmed lighting and softer music, in addition to interactive activities. “The restaurants also will have activities for children,” Phillips said. “So there will be coloring and puzzles and some activities to do while they are waiting to eat or while they’re waiting for their parents to eat.” The Autism Eats event isn’t the first partnership between Autism Speaks and CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., which owns and manages West County Center. The mall previously hosted two other sensory-friendly events – Bunny Cares and Santa Cares – in partnership with Autism Speaks. Those events allowed children on the autism spectrum to have a specialized and sensory-friendly visit with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. The events were held at four CBL & Associates properties, including Mid Rivers Mall and West County Center. Phillips said the events proved to be popular with families and children. “They were definitely very well received,” Phillips said. “The Santa Cares events started at one of our other malls that actually is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where CBL is based. We had such a great response that we decided to roll it out company-wide.” While the Santa Cares and Bunny Cares events took place at multiple area malls, Autism Eats is exclusive to West County Center. “From a central location standpoint and having three restaurants in the same area of the mall, like we do at West County in the restaurant village area, it creates a good environment to try and do something like this event,” Phillips said. Each restaurant has prepared a special The Bunny Cares event was held at West County Center in partnership with Autism Speaks. [Photo courtesy of Sean Phillips] Autism Eats menu filled with both brunch and lunch items. Reservations for the event are required; attendees should let the restaurant know if the reservation is specifically for Autism Eats. The event will take place from noon-3 p.m. Whether to make Autism Eats an ongoing event will depend on feedback and attendance, Phillips said. “Getting the word out and letting people know about the opportunity is really important, but if this one is a success, our restaurants are excited to participate in another such event and I know we would be excited to participate in other such events as well,” Phillips said. April 11, 2018 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE I 33 We carry QUALITY nursery stock and over 150 years staff experience on how to use it in your great outdoors! Your Concrete Specialists Specializing in: • Concrete Flat Work • Garage Floors • Room Additions • Driveways • Patios Locally Owned & Operated Since 1978 • Fully Insured and Bonded • Free Estimates • Senior Discounts Available • Contact Us Today! 636.946.3211 • West St. Louis County