Before Dining Out, We Do Our Research

Christina Cordaro avatar

by Christina Cordaro |

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Recently, I saw the following quote shared on social media. It stands out, particularly when I am making plans to go to various public places.

“Ramps should be the standard.

Automatic doors should be the standard.

Elevators in multi-story buildings should be the standard.

ASL interpreters should be the standard.

Braille menus at restaurants should be the standard.

Accessibility should be the standard.”

All of these statements couldn’t be more accurate. These things should be taken into consideration without question.

If you know me, you know that I am a huge foodie. Living in Philadelphia is great because the city is known for its food scene. It is ranked as one of the best foodie cities in the country. From its cheesesteaks to water ice, and from its classic BYOBs to restaurants owned by Food Network stars, it truly is the place to eat.

One thing my fiancé, Justin, and I first connected over was our love of Philly’s craft beer and restaurant scene. We keep a running list of restaurants and breweries we want to try. Exploring locations is now one of our favorite hobbies.

Interested in FA research? Check out our forums and join the conversation!

Now that I use a rollator, one thing we research before going to a restaurant is whether it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This includes having entrance ramps, tables at certain heights, easily accessible handrails, elevators if needed, etc. Because Philadelphia has many historic and older buildings, some places may not have ramps — only stairs. It’s important that we do our research ahead of time.

For example, when we were checking out restaurants for our wedding rehearsal dinner, some establishments said online or via a phone call that they are ADA-accessible. However, when we visited them, we discovered problems, such as owners believing a tiny step would accommodate wheelchair entry. Some restaurants promote that they are compliant but don’t seem to understand the logistics involved or have the compassion to grasp what it’s like for those of us living with disabilities.

It breaks my heart to see this, because I think about the entire FA community and how we should have the same rights as everyone else. We shouldn’t be discriminated against. Luckily, whenever a FAmily member travels to Philadelphia for a hospital visit or a clinical trial, we always find an accessible restaurant close to the hospital and the hotel. I just wish the entire city would be accommodating by changing existing layouts.

Coincidentally, one of Philadelphia’s best weeks starts this week: Center City District Restaurant Week! Twice a year, two separate weeks, participating restaurants offer three-course meals at a predetermined price. This is a great deal, especially for the more expensive restaurants we couldn’t normally afford to visit.

Justin and I recently had dinner at a traditional Italian restaurant with Restaurant Week discounts. We looked at both OpenTable and Yelp to see if the restaurant is ADA-accessible, and it is! The restaurant has a separate ADA entrance with handrails. The two apps are great resources for reading reviews and learning about how accommodating a restaurant is. They also are great tools to scope out a menu or see photos of the food.

The food at the Italian restaurant was exceptional, and the service stood out. The first question the hostess asked was, “Where would you like to sit to be most comfortable?” We sat in a spacious spot near the ADA exit to make leaving easier. We will definitely return!

What are some of your experiences dining out with ADA needs? Share them in the comments section below. 


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