A restaurant is a lot more than just a place to eat. People visit restaurants to have fun, to socialize and to eat in a comfortable and pleasant environment. However, if you are not working on facilitating everyone who visits your restaurant then you are not creating a comfortable and pleasant environment for everyone. Therefore, it is important when you are designing your restaurant to keep in mind the people who need extra care and attention. If you are starting a new restaurant then you can incorporate these strategies from the beginning and if you are already running a restaurant then you should add facilitating disabled people if your list. To find out more about how you can facilitate disabled people in your restaurant, please read below.
1. Install Tactile Buttons at the Checkout
In shopping malls and places with long queues, tactile buttons are added so that people with vision disabilities can be fully independent when shopping. Similar buttons can be added to restaurant tables or places to enter so that they can use the buttons in case they need help.
2. Make Wide Aisles
When you are designing the interior of your restaurant, try to be proactive and make wide aisles for people with walking disabilities, so that they can easily go on a wheelchair towards their seating. If you have already designed your restaurant, you can try moving the furniture around so that you can have at least one or two wide aisles for people with disabilities.
3. Offer to Help
As a common courtesy, your staff should be trained to offer to help people with disabilities. Specifically, if they see someone struggling they should offer to help.
4. Employee Training
Employee training is a necessity if you want to do something for disabled people in your restaurant. Your employees should be trained in different areas targeted at awareness about disabilities and how to facilitate people with disabilities. In terms of awareness your employees should know the several types of disabilities. In terms of facilitation, employees need to be aware of how they can help, e.g. if a person with vision disabilities wants to dine at your restaurant, your staff should know what do, e.g. read the menu, offer to help, stay close to the table in case the customer requests etc.
5. Wait for Instructions
When you are serving a disabled person, do not be in a hurry. Train your staff to wait with patience for instructions from there and if they are facing any difficulty in providing instructions, wait for them to clarify. The key is to not be rude or offensive in anyway and have your restaurant optimized for people who should be facilitated but are not facilitated
6. Greet them like you would Greet all Customers
When a disabled person visits your restaurant, greet them like you would greet all normal customers. Do not make them feel like they are disabled and train your staff to also be the same. Some employees might be prone to ignoring them because they do not know how to deal with a disabled person, that is why you need to train them beforehand about everything, ranging from how to talk to, how to serve, and how to say goodbye.
7. Make Special Bathrooms
Your restaurant should have a separate bathroom for elderly and for people with disabilities. If you are looking to accommodate disabled people and give them a pleasant experience, then make separate bathrooms for them as well.
8. Don’t Prejudge Them
If you prejudge a person based on their disability, you are likely to make a mistake in serving them. So, it is important for you and your staff to get trained to provide them with disabilities with a positive experience.
9. Give Them Time to Settle Down
Do not be in a hurry, do not work with them on the same time frame as you work with other customers. Give them time to settle down, to go through the menu and order. If there is a person with vision disability not accompanied by anyone, offer to read the menu to them.
10. Give them extra time at check out
The rule is to be patient and sensitive towards their disability by not showing any signs of hurry while they are coming to the restaurant and/or leaving, show your insensitivity towards their disability. Your servers should be trained to be patient and sensitive towards them so that they can have a positive experience and want to come to your restaurant again.
The key to facilitating disabled people in your restaurant is to be patient and aware of their disability. From greeting them to checking those out you should treat them like you would normal customers, unless they need help. Offer to help in the beginning and if they refuse then do not push it on them unless you see they are struggling with something and you should help.