To the editor:
Just recently, my family and I decided to have lunch at Original Joes in Kelowna. Because there was going to be a larger number of us, I decided to be proactive and phoned the restaurant ahead of time for a reservation.
The employee on the other end of the phone kindly told me that they don’t take reservations, the tables are first come, first serve. Normally, this is not a big deal and you take your chances on getting a table. The problem here lies in the fact that Original Joes only has one wheelchair accessible table, and my husband is in a wheelchair. Even after explaining the situation to the employee over the phone, I was still told that we could not make a reservation.
It seems to be a growing trend that restaurants are less than accommodating to people with mobility impairments, whether it be that all the tables are bar height (or chin height for a wheelchair user) as is the case at Original Joes and most fairly new places like Canadian Brew House, BNA, FSH and many others, or patios that can only be accessed by stairs like Mission Tap House, the Train Station Pub and Kelly O’Bryans.
Some places, like Baxter’s Pub, use the accessible washroom as storage, while some don’t have accessible washrooms at all.
Then, there are places like Earls On Top which can only be accessed by hiking up three flights of stairs and has shown no interest in installing an elevator or lift for those who cannot climb stairs (even though they had a complete renovation done not too long ago). Of course, they did say that they would assist anyone with mobility impairments up the stairs until they saw that they would be carrying up a 170-pound man in a wheelchair.
This is not to say that there aren’t some places that have done everything in their power to accommodate not only one wheelchair, but a whole group of them, including Boston Pizza and Tonics.
The point is, that restaurant owners need to take into consideration the large community of mobility impaired individuals in Kelowna whose business they are losing (and the business of their friends and family). It’s as easy as making exceptions to a no reservation rule, or having a removable ramp to set over the two steps leading to your patio. This way everyone has a chance to enjoy some of the amazing and unique restaurants that Kelowna has to offer.
Samantha Baxter, Kelowna