Monday, April 28, 2014

Restaurant Blues

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After our tour looking at Bentley Baths, Chris and I decided we'd stop off for lunch before returning home.  Since returning from Ireland, I have been craving that same warmth and love in a meal that I experienced there.   A few weeks ago during our last snow storm, I had Chris do take out so we could try some Irish Stew.  I really loved the food and wanted an opportunity to dine-in, so I asked Chris if we could please go to the Exchange Tavern.   Being the sweet husband and daddy that he was he agreed even though I know he likely preferred something familiar like Chili's.

The parking was a little frustrating as there were only two handicapped spots, both filled on each side and a parking way that wasn't a lot but really side-street parking, but we found a spot and were able to maneuver Noah's wheelchair okay in the parking spot we had.  It was a chilly day so we shuffled inside quickly, while noticing the sign on the front of the door "Irish Hospitality."   A Guiness sign hung in the entrance of the restaurant and I was excited to be there.  Excited that is until it all fell apart...

We arrived really late after lunch.  It was a few minutes shy of 1:45pm, and the restaurant was calm and quiet.  The host disgustedly looked at Noah then stood in place looking around and said she had no room for us. I asked her how could that be, there were at least 10-15 tables and booths that I could openly see, she said those were reserved for a larger party. She said that the wait was going to be over an hour as she filled all the tables 35 minutes ago, had a maximum of a 40 person capacity and recommended we go elsewhere. I couldn't believe she was turning us away because of Noah and his wheelchair, the sign on the door says "Irish Hospitality." I've experienced Irish Hospitality in its truest form and they would have never done that to us in Ireland anywhere!

Chris and I looked at each other in disbelief.  Noah was starting to grow agitated because he knows where he is and expected to be seated, and we were the only ones waiting for a table.   We knew that pushing almost 2pm Noah needed to eat, we didn't have time to battle and when these types of things happen you really feel like the walking wounded.   So we turned around and walked out, Noah's cries started.  He wanted to eat, and he didn't understand why we were leaving.  We walked to the closest thing we could find which was Ted's Montana Grill. We were seated promptly, the hostess recognizing Noah as a child giving him a child's menu and verbally said table for three.  Ted's did everything right, making compliments about how cute and sweet Noah was, talking to him, even though he wasn't verbally responding back, and even offering him a really large chunky brown crayon that they found to allow us to help him use it to write on the paper tabletop.  

Even the family next to us did a great job when their two year little girl, much too little to even have a concept of disabilities and differences pointed to Noah and said "look momma it's a baby."  The mother smiled at me and "no, honey don't be silly, that's not a baby that's a little boy."  It would not have bothered me if the mother hadn't corrected her little one.  It was nice that she did, but I understand to other little children that Noah's ATNR reflexes do make him mimic much of the same movements that a baby does.   Calling him a baby is so much kinder than what he's been referred to by others.  I'll take baby over cripple or retard any day.   And I recognize you have to pick and chose your battles and valid complaints.

Chris and I sat in silence most of lunch, both stunned from being turned away, and although we were thankful for Ted's welcoming us with open arms, it's not where we wanted to be, so were experiencing some heavy disappointment.  I think it rather set the tone for the rest of our day.  We rather sulked around the house, cleaning, putting about, and looking at each other as we both knew what the other was feeling even if we weren't talking about it.

I wanted the Exchange Tavern to be a place where we frequented and loved - especially being a hop skip and a jump from home.  But it turns out they didn't want to spread the love back.   I did try to reach out to Exchange Tavern to inform them of my experience but haven't yet heard back.  My only hope is that they don't do that to any other family with a disabled family member ever again.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.