Bobby Flay Broke My Heart and Maybe the Law

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez19 Comments

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Bobby Flay, You broke my heart.

Let me say this is one of the saddest posts I have ever written. I’m a huge Bobby Flay fan. Recently, I made a brunch for a friend and used Bobby’s Italian Homemade Potatoes. They were delicious! “Bobby” was the name I used whenever I had to make an example of someone for my middle school students. Bobby was everywhere in my life. When Bobby Flay has a showdown, throw down, any down, I’m down! So it breaks my heart to write this post. But I must.

I found out that Bobby Flay opened up his Bobby’s Burger Palace at the Dadeland Mall in Miami, Florida. I was going to faint if I didn’t go check it out. I had to go. I had to! A week later Anthony and I were famished. He wanted BBQ. Now I didn’t know the menu at Bobby’s Burger Palace but there could be a BBQ burger, right? So off we went.

As I drove, we passed one great restaurant after another but I ignored all of them. Nothing was going to deter me from my goal. My goal was BOBBY’s Burger Palace!

We entered the Dadeland Mall. Passed Cheesecake Factory, passed the food court, passed the other new restaurants on the second floor. It’s BOBBY or BUST!

Once we got there, I saw nothing but high counters and bar stools. There was no way I could eat one of Bobby’s burgers. Not one table for a person who uses a wheelchair. My heart was racing. But it wasn’t out of love. It was out of anger. I felt betrayed. Bobby did this to me!

Where there is smoke, there is fire. And smoke was coming out of my ears. Anthony could see it. He told me to relax until we asked the hostess. She said there were seats for me in the outsideback. IN THE BACK! I’m sure Rosa Parks took care of this “OUTSIDE IN THE BACK SEATING” a long time ago. I mean really, Bobby! Has it come to this? No air conditioning. No protection from the unpredictable rain in South Florida. What if I lived in New Jersey and it was snowing?

Anthony goes to check the place out. He comes back shaking his head. It’s way too hot to sit outside. I was angry, sad, betrayed and hurt. It’s Bobby Flay for heaven’s sakes! Not Paula Deen! He loves everyone! I see it on the Food Network Channel. Does he love everyone but me? Is my wheelchair going to ruin our relationship? I couldn’t believe it.

I told Anthony that Bobby probably doesn’t know about this mistake and I will tweet him and let him know. I knew he would do the right thing. I knew he wouldn’t knowingly break my heart or the Americans with Disability Act.

I tweeted Bobby Flay @bflay and told him the situation. It took more than one tweet but I gave him the information. He would reply and make my heart feel better. I wanted to believe in Bobby. I didn’t want to think that he would put his name on a restaurant that discriminated against people with physical disabilities.
I tweet him. Nothing happened. No reply.

Things were about to get ugly. I was a scorned woman.

I tweeted him again but this time I added his restaurant’s Twitter account @bobbysburgerpal.

I explained the situation. Here is the restaurant’s last tweet to me. Bobby’s Burger Palace stated: Yes we are wheelchair friendly restaurant. There should be a counter seat that is removable for wheelchair purposes.

Bobby Flay Burger Palace tweet saying they are wheelchair friendly.

Bobby’s Burger Palace Tweet’s an explanation.

Yes, that was it. Their statement that there “should” be seating for me was a weak reply. That was the last I heard from them. Bobby Flay never responded.

Putting my broken heart aside, I had to think about the broken laws. This wasn’t right no matter whose name was on the restaurant. In fact, because of Bobby Flay’s fame and reputation his standards should be set to the highest level.

What could I do to help repair this relationship? Not just the one between us but the one with Bobby and every person who cannot use his counter service.

Bobby, if you’re reading this, here’s what you can do to make it better between us and the millions of people who use wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility devices.

• Although the hostess on the phone said that there are moveable stools, the counter is still too high for someone in a wheelchair. Make some counters lower for people like me. I’m about 3 feet tall and in a wheelchair.
• This entire “only counter and barstool” isn’t very inviting to people who may have trouble even sitting on a barstool. There are people with Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Dwarfism, Spina Bifida who walk but might find it challenging to get up to the bar stool. It would be nice if there were tables as well as counters.
• When you do lower the counter and place tables, don’t place them in the back. People with physical disabilities aren’t ashamed of themselves and you shouldn’t make us feel that way by making the only seating in the back and outside.
• My last suggestion: Get better representatives to handle your social media accounts. Silence from your Twitter account and your restaurant’s Twitter account isn’t a good sign at all.

Bobby Flay, you can mend my broken heart with a beautiful brunch. I’m very forgiving. But will the federal government be as forgiving with your restaurant’s disregard for the Americans with Disabilities Act? A Throw Down with Uncle Sam won’t be too favorable for you as well.

Let’s continue the love, Bobby. In fact, let’s grab a burger at your place.

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  1. So let me get this straight…you went into a newly built restaurant expecting it to be totally accessible with regular chairs and tables only to find out all they had inside was high countertops and chairs…and on top of that they told you to sit out back because that’s where the only accessible tables and chairs are. Well, duh, I would have been slightly pissed too. It’s not about getting over it, it’s wanting basic access to what everyone else has.

  2. We had the same experience at the one in Paramus NJ. There was one table with
    Movable chairs that was maybe an inch lower that the few other tables.

    Sympathetic do nothing about it staff.

    Never went back. Smashburger, 5 Guys, Boomburger plenty of other good burgers out there.

  3. Wonderful article! But, please make it accessible for blind/visually impaired people by telling us what the tweet said rather than posting a graphic our screen readers can’t decipher. Thanks and keep up the fab advocacy!

  4. Thank you for writing this! I, too, am a huge Bobby Flay fan. And I happen to be in New Jersey where an outdoor seating area WOULD affect me in the snow. But my understanding is that the BBP here doesn’t even have that! I, too, have contacted him via Twitter and nada. I’m happy to pursue this with you if you’re taking this anywhere…maybe I just needed some support. In solidarity, -M

  5. Author

    I do plan to pursue this. Contact me. nathasha @ audacitymagazine .com
    I’m glad I’m not the only person who feels this is wrong. I love Bobby Flay. So imagine how upset I was to see these high counters. The staff weren’t very friendly or knowledgeable either. It helps to have a knowledgeable staff. I received plenty of Twitter silence from them. Let’s work together to fix this and be his number 1 fans. Thanks for reaching out.

  6. Author

    I’m very sorry, Beth. I’m going to fix that right away. Thank you for letting me know. Thank you for commenting. Smiling.

  7. Really disheartened to hear that a newly built restaurant didn’t take access into consideration. Particularly frustrating that they didn’t respond as they should have – with making changes in the restaurant. Glad you’re speaking out about this.

  8. Author

    Yes, Jo Ann. I know exactly what you mean. I’m hoping that Bobby Flay’s company will see this and take a look at some of my recommendations. It would be cool to have lower counters so that people in wheelchairs can have a great dining experience and see their company eye to eye, not eye to butt cheeks. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Author

    Exactly! People need to remember that it’s 2014 and we shouldn’t be made to feel like it’s 1900. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  10. Recently ate at the DC location and would have had no clue that there were two removable chairs had the cashier not walked over to them to show me. It made me wonder who would have pointed them out to me if the restaurant had been busy.

    The entire dining experience was poor. Food just so so, restaurant dirty, lighting out. It was hard to eat while looking at a glass door that was nasty with fingerprints and grime. Bathroom was roomy enough for a wheelchair but also not clean.

  11. Hi Nathasha,
    I’m Angie, don’t know if you remember me from STS.
    Loving your article, though very disappointed of your experience. I had been considering trying to check out that second level area with my daughter during her lunch break from the Nespresso at Macy’s home. If we’d have had that encounter, my daughter would have been the one breaking all hell. So you can count with my support as well.
    Lmbo @ “eye to eye, not eye to butt cheeks”.

    Good to hear you.

  12. Author

    @angelica Yes, I remember you. Your daughter is working. Wow. I thought she was a young teen. Stop the clock! LOL
    I’m going to meet one of the executives so let’s see how it goes. 🙂

  13. Author

    I’m meeting the executive tomorrow so I will let him know your concerns. I’m hoping this meeting will help the entire chain so that all of us can enjoy Bobby Flay’s Burgers.

  14. Loved the article! Can’t wait to hear the update. You’re right, it’s 2014 and things should be different.
    In another note, I saw Anthony Bourdein (I hope that’s how you spell his name) biking on my block today. I thought you would’ve loved seeing that. He looks great.

  15. Pingback: Bobby Flay Mends My Broken Heart | Audacity Magazine

  16. Author

    Did you see the update to the post? Check it out. I think in September you should go back and enter the contest. 🙂

  17. Author

    Hey there, Jen. Did you read the update to the post. If you can get to the DC locations in September, you can join my contest. Let’s look to see if they kept their word. 😉

  18. Author

    Hey there, Jersey Girl!
    email me at nathasha @ audacity and did you read the update on this post? Let me know. You could enter the contest.

  19. Author

    Thank you. I had an update and I hope it was accessible for the visually impaired. It’s one of the factors that stayed in my mind when I first made Audacity over 10 years ago. Thank you. Please let me know if there’s anything else I should fix.

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