Voices of the Community – High Top Table Trend: How restaurants and bars exclude post-ADA


High Top Table Trend: How restaurants and bars have managed to exclude us post-Americans with Disabilities Act

Well, here is the newest “problem” we are encountering in our quest to have a full and socially inclusive lifestyle…high top tables! I truly hate this trend, and I wish the ADA or other local laws would address this issue.

No matter where we go today, the high top table trend is finding its way into restaurants, bars, even outdoor festivals and concerts. Apparently, people like to sit up high and there is no thought or consideration for those who the ADA was meant to include in public accommodations.

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It was already an issue with the bar itself – they have never been low – but now with the tables surrounding the bar all being high tops, being able to have a night out with friends or go on a date has become a neck-aching, uncomfortable pain.

Recently, I signed up to attend an event in my town where meeting new people and listening to music was on the agenda. I sent a note to the organizer introducing myself and letting her know I was a wheelchair user.  This was her response:

“In regards to ADA accessibility, this is a bar, so they do have to follow whatever requirements set by state and local building codes. However, the bar is accommodating us at 3 large hightops because we are a large group, but we usually overflow onto other tables which are low tops.”

So they USUALLY do have stragglers who sit at other tables from the main group, but hey, if not, I will be excluded. NICE. I cancelled my RSVP.  Why would I want to knowingly subject myself to going to an event where I know the main table is not conducive to being included?

Here is a an unfortunate quote from restaurant seating expert Leon Tuberman:

“If you’ve gone to multiple restaurants within the last year, you’ve noticed that a good many of them have added high top tables to their dining areas. It’s not quite clear where the trend started, but it seems pretty easy to see that people are eating it up. From your local bar to the most popular 5-star restaurants, high top tables have taken over and appear to be here to stay. Just like sitting at a bar offers a certain type of drinking and dining experience, the same can be said for enjoying a meal high up off the ground.”

I sincerely hope the high top trend is not here to stay, or at least as Leon suggested, that owners and designers will consider all customers in their planning. Leon continues:

“Don’t Over-Do It
As the old saying goes, “everything in moderation.” Though it may be tempting to turn all your tables into high top, sleek, people-feeding machines, it’s important to have a variety of seating options. If you’re thinking about making the switch to high top tables, please remember to at least keep some low top tables or booths available for those customers with special needs. Though higher tables look and feel great, they are not wheelchair friendly. We recommend a little bit of each type of table to make sure your establishment is fully accessible and inviting to any type of customer who may decide to visit.”

Source: http://www.restaurantseating.com/blog/ViewPost.aspx?PostID=238#.VaAe_flViko

Just like the high bed trend in hotels (even in “ADA rooms”), this one is another uphill battle that we really didn’t need.

Update:  The following images were taken at two separate popular restaurants in South Florida over the same weekend.  High tops were the only option in one bar area, and the other had only a few tables located in a less than optimal seating area (that did not provide a view of water), even though they had two large patio areas.

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Two Georges at the Cove, Deerfield Only high tops in bar area where our group was located. Regular seating available in restaurant side.

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15th Street Fisheries, a popular waterfront dining spot in Fort Lauderale had almost exclusively High Top seating on two separate patios. We had to eat upstairs and inside to have a regular table.

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Deborah Davis

Deborah is a Speaker, Disability Inclusion Consultant, Entrepreneur, Writer and Business Owner of Wheelchair Lifestyle Enterprise Push Living Inc.

She was a Former Dancer, Accident Survivor (C 6-7 Spinal Cord Injury resulting in incomplete Quadriplegia 1985), College grad (BBA Finance 1991 U of Miami), with a background in Sales and Marketing and Non Profit Development and Management.

She is now embarked on new path creating a market for Disability Inclusive Stock Images with the creation of PUSHlivingPhotos.com and publishing an online enterprise: PushLiving.com. The mission is to create Inclusion for people with disabilities through stock images for advertising, marketing and editorial uses, providing accessible properties for travel, swap or purchase, publishing an online magazine for improved health and well-being, providing information and opportunities for Accessible Travel, and operating an online store with products that improve lives.

She is most passionate about building a network of people with disabilities who are empowering, supporting and creating a more inclusive world. Personally, she is a mother of two beautiful, wise and exceptionally bright young women, and residing in South Florida.

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