I have always loved to eat out but in recent years have become a little more self-conscious about visiting a restaurant or pub. For a start there’s the issue of access-will my scooter get through the door or is there a parking space near enough that I can walk in using my walker? If it’s somewhere new I usually do a bit of research before visiting or avoid anywhere too small where I might ‘take-out’ a table with my scooter. I find entering a pub or restaurant quite hard as it feels like all eyes are on you and I usually want to dive into the nearest available table as quickly as possible. I much prefer sitting outside, weather permitting, as it’s generally easier to access.
Then I like to know what kind of sound level there will be as if it’s very busy and loud no one will understand a word I say due to my speech impairment. Over Christmas I found myself in a couple of restaurants where the noise levels were such that it made it almost impossible for anybody to understand a word I said so I just gave up trying to converse and just smiled and nodded. Again, if we’d been sitting outside this wouldn’t have been an issue. Obviously not really an option in the depths of a British Winter but another good reason why I should migrate during the colder months!
Lastly, there is the issue of what to eat. The superb stand up comedian and actor, Francesca Martinez, who, like me, has cerebral palsy describes being on a date with a drop-dead gorgeous man and the only thing on the menu is soup and spaghetti! I can usually find something that satisfies my taste buds without being too embarrassing to eat.
For all the above reasons I prefer going back to tried and tested restaurants and pubs where I know what I’m getting – and I’m not alone. Once disabled people have found a business that suits their needs, they will become loyal customers returning time after time. With 13 million people currently living in the UK and a spending power of over £200 billion a year, it makes sense for all business – not just restaurants and pubs – to do their best to attract the ‘purple pound.’