A restaurant. Once again we had trouble in a restaurant. By now I have learned to be cautious when going to ethnic restaurants with my service dog; many other cultures do not feel the same about dogs as Americans. To them, dogs are dirty and should be avoided. Dogs never should be allowed in a restaurant.
I’m used to discussions, arguments and skirmishes in those restaurants, but the other night we went to a local Mexican place I’d been to once before at lunchtime. I had no real trouble the first time I was there so I didn’t expect trouble this time. This expectation was bolstered when I saw that the man at the host station was American.
“Two for dinner?” he asked.
I nodded and said, “Yes.”
He indicated we should follow him and so we did…out of the half-filled main dining room and into a dark second dining room that was completely empty.
We were being excluded. We were being pushed away from all the worthwhile non-disabled diners who had no service dogs to a separate space. We were being shunned.
My husband and I glanced at one another and before I could do it he said, “I think we would like to sit in the main dining room.”
“OK, no problem,” said the man guiding us to a less than prime table right next to the entrance to that same separate room.
“No,” said my spouse gently, pointing to his left, “I think we would prefer a booth over here.”
“OK, no problem,” said the man once more.
If it were no problem why then were we directed to less than desirable real estate the first two times?
The restaurant industry, perhaps more than any other, needs to ensure all employees are aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act and, in particular, sections pertaining to service animals.
We celebrated the 23rd anniversary of the ADA last month. The information contained in that landmark piece of legislation is by now nothing new. We will no longer accept excuses of ignorance.