Bobby Flay Broke My Heart and Maybe the Law

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Photo of Nathasha

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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