It’s no surprise to my friends that I consider myself a foodie. Going out to restaurants is a great way to socialize without doing dishes. As someone who uses a manual wheelchair, access without the hassle is vital. As a foodie, I expect quality service, great atmosphere and delicious dishes! Here are my tips on getting the most from your dining experiences.
A Foodie Researches and Makes Reservations
When my friends and I decide we are going to eat somewhere special, I research for an interesting place. Either word of mouth from social media or I go to Yelp and read the comments. Then I call the restaurant. I know many of you dislike the idea of having to call the restaurant ahead of time but I believe it’s all in the intent and wording of the call.
When I call it goes something like this:
Me: Hi! My name is Nathasha and I heard your restaurant is amazing! What’s your name?
Them: Thank you. My name is (WRITE DOWN THEIR NAME)
Me: Great (their name) I am calling because I use a manual wheelchair and I want to make sure that when I go there, I will have a great time without having to see any code violations.
So are there any steps to enter the place? Do you have an accessible bathroom? And are there tables at regular height?
I ask any pertinent questions that suit my needs. You can ask different questions.
Me: Fantastic! I’d like to make a reservation for (Insert number) people at (insert time).
Them: (This sometimes happens) There’s no need to make reservations.
Me: Ok then I am letting you know (insert their name) so you know that I will be there with my friends. Maybe I should speak to the manager so the manager knows my intentions.
Or this might happen:
Me: Ok (their name) I need a reservation for (the time) for a party of (number).
Me: I can’t wait. Are you sure everything is accessible for me?
So now, what happens when it is not accessible?
Talk To The Manager
Every foodie knows that asking for the manager is the way to go when you have a problem or unique situation. I have a similar situation with the manager as I did with the person who first answered the phone. Why? Because I want to have a great time.
I will get the manager’s name and I will explain the situation. If I find out that they are owning up to the fact that they are not within ADA compliance, I will ask for the name of the owner and contact information. I will follow through.
Most of the time, the restaurants make accommodations when I get there. For example, there’s a restaurant that I love but there’s not that much space. When they know I am going, they make sure there is a great spot for me.
The Foodie Arrives! Let the Fun Begin!
Once I get to the restaurant, I ask for the manager or the person who I spoke to on the phone. It’s great to connect a name to a face. It allows them to see that I am a person. Now for some of you this is getting you riled up. You’re thinking that I shouldn’t have to do that. You’re thinking that I should be like everyone else and go in and have fun.
But I don’t want to be like everyone else when I go to a restaurant. I want to be VIP. Being a foodie means that I want the best possible dining experience with my foodie friends. If it means I have to meet the manager, I will. A positive attitude can go far in the foodie world. Trust me!
If there’s one thing that we know in the disabled community is that good service is rare. So when I go to a restaurant, I want to make sure that the service is excellent! Here’s how I do it.
I smile at the server. I acknowledge them. Many times people go to restaurants and act as if the servers are a nuisance. Wrong attitude! A foodie knows that they are the key to your experience.
I order a beverage right away. This isn’t a suggestion to drink alcohol. You can order whatever you want but when you and your friends order beverages, you get to see the type of server who will be with you during this VIP time.
Ask for suggestions on what to drink. Ask what others have ordered the most. Get a feel of the place. It’s ok to even let the server know you are excited to be there. This is your time, your money and your experience. Make the most of it.
Foodie Magical Words
By now you know that this article is filled with positivity. Realistically speaking, you don’t want to have a piss poor attitude when there are uncomfortable situations. Too many of my disabled friends cause scenes. They leave angry and hungry. Now you have a hangry disabled friend. Don’t let that be you.
Sometimes things don’t go well for me when I dine out. But I’ve noticed through years of experience that a few magical words can make a bad situation better. For example, I say please and thank you for everything. Some people get their food placed in front of them and don’t even acknowledge the server. That’s rude!
Even when I have a complaint and wish to speak to the manager, I say please and thank you. But I am one of those who say please and thank you when people are arguing with me too. It seems to ease the tension.
Once I went to a neighborhood steakhouse and found the accessible bathroom toilet seat so loose that I almost fell. After explaining the situation to the person who I thought was the manager, they fixed the toilet seat that day within the hour.
That’s impressive! They thanked me. And I thanked them for doing the right thing. I continue to dine there and love knowing that my voice is heard. Turns out it was the owner! Win win for everyone!
This might not be the article you thought you would read but I promise you that if you take the tips I suggested, your dining experience will be every foodie’s dream!
Foodie Word Of Mouth Carries Weight
If I love something, I tell the world. If I don’t love something, I tell the world. As a disabled foodie, our opinions hold weight. Yelp is my friend! My foodie Instagram account is not only about the food but the service and access for disabled people. Follow here.
When things really go awry, I contact the owners and managers. Education is important. I don’t think that being disabled should stop any of us from dining at restaurants.
Take photos! The proof is in the photos! Accessible bathroom? Take a photo! Inaccessible bathroom? Take a photo. Steps? Take a photo. Great ramp? Take a photo! Post and share.
Sharing is caring!
- Make reservations
- Collect names
- Positive attitude
- Please and thank you
- Leave reviews
- Take photos
There you have it! Your turn. What great tips do you have for a disabled foodie like me?
Psst…I used to have an issue with Bobby Flay. Read here. But then, we resolved it. Read here.
Nathasha Alvarez is the founder, editor and your friendly Latina Diva on Wheels. Her goal is to support disabled people who want to live audaciously, one moment at a time. www.nathashaalvarez.com
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