Friday, July 20, 2012

No Souvlaki For Us

Yesterday I met my sons, Chip and Ronnie, at a Greek restaurant for lunch, the Greek Grill Cafe. Although the restaurant owners have had other establishments, this particular restaurant just opened in 2010. The food is authentic Greek food - spanakopita, souvlaki, moussaka and gyros - with some American food thrown in for pickier eaters (like Ronnie).

The food was indeed wonderful, but I can't say the same for the experience.

The first thing I noticed was that there were no handicapped parking spaces. I did see a concrete 'ramp' at the end of one parking space, but a car was parked there making the improvised ramp unusable.

Chip helped Ronnie get up the curb and onto the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. But then we noticed something else. Another curb-height structure, a small step actually, had to be navigated to get inside the restaurant. One of the servers came out and offered to help lift Ronnie in his wheelchair (with Chip's help) into the restaurant. But, wheelchair users often have difficulty both with someone touching their chairs and with creating a scene - and Ronnie would have considered it creating a scene.

So, Chip got him in - and out when we were finished with lunch - but I was really surprised that a newish restaurant didn't have to abide by ADA regs. I know there are lots of exemptions to the ADA, and I guess this establishment got at least one of those.

It's sad really. We love the food but can't accept the inaccessible facility, as well as the mindset of the owners who don't understand or accept the concept of accessibility.

(Interestingly, the photos on the restaurant's website show a person in a wheelchair inside the restaurant. I wonder why it was important to put the picture up but not make the facility accessible.)


Suzy said...

You should contact your local disability advocacy group and find out if, in fact, they do have an exemption - and why. I would also make certain to let the restaurant know of your experience and how it will affect any future visits. I think making places accessible benefits all of us.

Anonymous said...

Don't assume they got an exemption. In our town stores should not be allowed to open without being accessible, but they don't check for that when enforcing the codes. It took a year to get the coal candy store to get a ramp even though I spoke with the owner before they even moved int the building.