Image of Sakina seated in her Edge 3 Stretto power wheelchair in front of a dining table against a gold curtain background at a restaurant.

Restaurants and Wheelchairs

Dining Out at Restaurants With a Wheelchair

With the weather getting warmer my family and I have slowly returned to eating indoors at restaurants. Initially, we would eat outdoors when the weather was nice, and sometimes when it wasn’t so nice due to Covid!

Anytime my family and I want to eat out, we always call in advance to ensure that the restaurant is wheelchair accessible just to make sure before we arrive. Unfortunately, many times they claim that the location is accessible, however when we arrive, the opposite is true.

Secret Entrances

I’ve had to enter through a hidden door in an alley from behind the restaurant that is meant for food delivery, and before you ask, no, I’m not exaggerating, and yes, this has actually happened before! What’s worse is that when I finally enter the restaurant, after requiring assistance from several individuals because there was a slight step when entering, there is absolutely no room for my wheelchair to maneuver through the different tables for me to get to our table.

Although the entrance into the restaurant may be accessible, many times the layout of the restaurant isn’t. My biggest pet peeve that far outweighs individuals who are not disabled parking in handicapped parking spaces is feeling like a burden to those around me, regardless of whether or not I know them personally. 

After already having individuals put their family dinner on hold to try and lift my 400-pound wheelchair and fail miserably, asking people to get up out of their seats and rearrange the tables is not only quite an inconvenience for them but it’s also incredibly embarrassing for me and causes me to feel like a huge burden.

Food for Thought

If restaurants had a designated area where wheelchair users could sit comfortably with their families and enjoy their meals, all of these potentially uncomfortable situations could be avoided, and people who are trying to enjoy their meals with their families would not have to worry.

If the space in the entrance was accessible and had the appropriate amount of room, it would prevent me from having to navigate my Edge 3 Stretto through tables and chairs! More importantly, my family and I wouldn’t be embarrassed either because honestly, not everyone is happy about having their meals interrupted, and that’s just reality.

It’s difficult enough for wheelchair users to put themselves together and have the courage to go out in the world, it would be great if accessible restaurants actually meant accessible all around, not just the door to get in! 

Author: Sakina