One thing I love doing in my pastime is eating out at restaurants.
My restaurant time is for “me” time. I chill out, socialize, and eat good food. Everyone has a pastime he or she enjoys, and for me, that’s visiting restaurants.
Although, most restaurants believe they’re following the rules and regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and mandated state codes to make their establishments accessible, many are just doing the bare minimum to get by.
Have you ever tried to sit at the bar at a restaurant while in a wheelchair? Better yet, have you even paid attention to how many people in wheelchairs are sitting at the bar? The answer is probably, none.
The typical restaurant’s bar is too high for a person in a wheelchair to sit at. I have pulled up to bars in my scooter to hang out with friends and family but, I must say, it feels awkward like a sore thumb sticking out.
Luckily, if I’m ever in the Harlem area in New York, I will not have to feel awkward because I’ll make my way to Contento’s. Contento’s is a new restaurant owned and designed by Yannick Benjamin and George Gallego, both are in wheelchairs. The two partners decided to go into business building an all-inclusion accessible restaurant because they were tired of experiencing obstacles that tend to go along with the “typical” restaurant. Narrow walkways, small restroom stalls, and tight table spaces are just some of challenges I’ve faced when visiting restaurants.
Thanks to Yannick and Gallego, accommodations not typically thought of will be put in to play at Contento’s. For people who are visually impaired; they will no longer have to ask someone to read the menu. Contento will be providing an accessible menu with a QR code on it. The QR code will allow one to scan a menu with their cell phone and have the menu read aloud. No longer will a person in a wheelchair feel uncomfortable when sitting at a bar because the partners designed half of the bar to be lowered.
Often, when the word accessible or accommodation is mentioned, people get nervous. People with disabilities aren’t looking for an establishment to move mountains, instead, just by adding grab tabs or lowering counter tops, would make a world of difference for persons with disabilities.
I believe full access to the world is an act in process for people with disabilities. Sadly, it may always be a process, but if we have people like Yannick and Gallego at the forefront pushing for equality, things can continue to get better. I think I’ll plan a vacation to New York so I can visit Contento and sit at the bar.