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Last Updated on October 11, 2023

Going out to eat can sometimes be a hassle, or troublesome, no matter what. Long lines, trying to take the entire family, and busy Image of a restaurant for an article about wheelchair-accessible restaurants and ADA compliance.schedules can sometimes make it difficult to enjoy the perfect meal out. Because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first enacted in 1992, you would think that most handicap requirements for restaurants are set in place by now. 

However, that is not always the case. It can still be a struggle to find wheelchair accessible restaurants that are comfortable enough for patrons to enjoy them, and there are a few things to keep in mind before dining out. 

Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants: What Does the ADA Require of a Restaurant?

Every restaurant must be up to code to make sure that it is accessible for people with disabilities. This means not only those in wheelchairs, but everyone with a disability. However, many violations of code deal strictly with those in wheelchairs. If you’re wondering, “what does the ADA require of a restaurant?”, there are a few key things. 

Some answers to some of the more popular questions or concerns regarding wheelchair accessible restaurants are:

  • Are restaurants required to have handicap parking? 

Yes, this is an absolute necessity. There must be one handicap accessible spot for every other 25 spots in the lot. (Additionally, this holds true for most businesses). Going even further, the slope must be 2 percent or less in order to accommodate a wheelchair.

  • What are ADA restaurant seating requirements and what are ADA restaurant table requirements? 

In addition to the actual number of seats, a patron in a wheelchair must be able to navigate about the building easily so that they can enjoy a meal as well. In general, the space between aisles and fixed seats must be at least 36 inches wide, and tables must be a certain height to accommodate wheelchairs. If you’re wondering “how many handicap seats are required in a restaurant to make it a wheelchair accessible restaurant?”, there is no specific number. If all other guidelines are met, chairs should be able to pull out and a wheelchair should be able to be placed comfortably. 

Another fact to note is that wheelchair-accessible restaurants must provide lifts or ramps if there are any type of stairs that block the way to the dining room or restroom facilities.

Unfortunately, this can cause some issues because restaurants built before the 1993 cutoff date do not have to completely come up to code if they do not want to. Patrons often report that staff have been rude, or that the restaurant does not meet any ADA standards. You can always file a direct complaint by writing to

Finding Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants Near Me 

If you’re wondering how to find the best restaurants with disabled facilities near you, there is no set “search,” per se, but a few things to keep in mind. Remember that sites with self-ratings (such as Yelp or TripAdvisor) can often provide the best information when it comes to issues like this, as patrons are always quick to report if they’ve had a wonderful or bad experience. 

Calling the restaurant beforehand is always an option, and asking how well the ADA requirements are followed, and if there is ample handicap parking, comfortable areas to sit, etc. Remember, if the staff is rude or noncompliant, you have the right to complain immediately, without even visiting the restaurant. There is also a relatively new app called Wheelmap that enables you to find handicap accessible places across the board, such as hiking trails and vacation spots, not just wheelchair accessible restaurants. 

If you need more information about your rights and the ADA, are a caregiver or a business owner who wants to make your place of business more ADA-compliant by adding ramps or lifts, contact Williams Lift Co. today to speak with a member of our professional staff.