Wining and Dining: Tips and experiences on how to go out and hit the town with confidence

G’day friends and welcome to another week and another blog post!

I hope you are all doing well as we finally near the end of Winter and can welcome Spring. I don’t know about you but I love Spring and Summer because that is the time where going out to restaurants and cocktail bars becomes that much more enjoyable!

So I thought with the warmer weather (for those of us in the southern hemisphere at least) around the corner, it would be a good time to talk about what I have to do in order to go out, and my advice to those trying to navigate the world of dining out.

Check Website, google maps and call ahead.

a menu board and counter of a cafe. the walls are white as is the menu with fine black writing. there are pendant lights from the ceiling. and a coffee machine is in the background.
http://Photo by Daria Shevtsova:

This is something I do all the time. Unfortunately a lot of businesses are still not completely disability friendly.

For me my main concern is disabled bathroom that is easy to get in and out of and is large enough to fit a wheelchair or scooter in, and a ramped entrance or have a lift available if there are stairs.

For other people it may be is it quiet enough during the hours they want to visit in case of sensory overload, are there braille menu options or a way for perhaps a phone to be able to read back what is on the menu. Are the tables spaced out enough to enable wheelchair access?

There are so many things here that determines how enjoyable a night out on the town is!

So the one thing I do before making a reservation is checking the website and googling on google maps to see photos of the restaurant or bar, to make sure there is a way for me to get into the building.

Pictures of inside the building is also helpful because there are a few times where there will be hidden stairs that you will have to navigate.

By googling, it can show me which businesses straight away won’t be accessible. Even getting from a carpark can be tricky to navigate as well especially if there are large holes or uneven surfaces. So that also has to be looked into.

Another thing I need to get into a habit of doing is calling ahead and double check where they seat us will be wheelchair friendly. There has been a few times where we will make a table reservation but will be placed down a couple of stairs. Which as I get older is certainly not the best thing as my parents have to manhandle me down and up the stairs which isn’t safe for anyone. So calling ahead is pretty important as well!

Lifts and ramps!

a view of seating at a poolside restaurant with subtle mood lighting as the sun is setting
http://Photo by Naim Benjelloun:

This brings me to my next topic. Lifts.

There are a handful of places in Toowoomba that have lift or ramp access to get into the venue.

Most times these access points are locked and require staff to operate or unlock them.

At times it is pretty frustrating because you know they keep them locked because people will misuse them and break them.

There have also been times were a lift hasn’t been operational, which wasn’t listed on their website or facebook page. Hence why again calling ahead is super important if you cannot climb stairs.

I have been to a bar where even the ramp access has been locked and the only way to use it has been to call the front of house to let you in. Which that one I don’t understand, but I guess at a certain time the security checks everyone’s ID who is entering the venue, and there is really no logical sense to keep a security guard out by the ramp just in case.

It’s a good use of resources, but still can be frustrating nonetheless.

When using lifts, my parents will often run upstairs to grab someone to unlock the lift and bring us up. Depending on my mind frame on that day, it can be very frustrating also having to wait for staff to come and unlock a lift or a ramp so you can enter a venue.

But if they don’t then there would be more issues of people misusing the lift and breaking it. So it makes sense

My Extra tips on how to go out in style

A photo of my wine glass with the ocean in the background at the Dock in Mooloolaba. One of my favourite places i go to when on the Sunshine Coast

To finish up the blog post this week, I want to give you all a few more tips to be able to make your time out worth while.

If you are disabled and you are going out as a group, I would highly recommend asking your group if either you can book the venue, or ask who is doing to the booking to make sure the venue can accommodate your requirements.

If you are going clubbing or bar hopping, compile a list of the places you all want to go to and double check they are accommodating to your needs. It saves the disappointment and having to walk all across town trying to find somewhere accessible. Trust me!

Unfortunately, there will be times when the people you are going out to dinner with will not think to book an accessible venue or just assume that it will be fine and you can manage.

The thing I like to point out here that although it is super frustrating, they don’t live your life so checking for accessibility, while it should just be standard because they know you, they don’t have to think about that 24/7 so it won’t come naturally for them to check.

So make sure you ask them to double check for sensory rooms, wheelchair accessibility, wide walkways, or anything else you may need. Or once the venue is booked, call up the venue and double check. That way you know exactly what to ask for, and if needed can either request a change of venue or request for a staff member to be at the lift waiting for you at your reservation time.

I have had times where I will get to a venue, and forget to call (because I am human and although this is my life, I would just assume people in my circle get it, which is unfair to assume that) and have had to be manhandled up a flight of stairs because the lift is out of order. Yes it is so disheartening, but the lesson was learnt to always call ahead especially to places you haven’t been before.

To those who are either friends or family of a disabled person and you are making a reservation, it may be a good idea to just call your disabled friend or family member and ask them what they will need. Even if they are coming to your place for a dinner party. It certainly makes them feel seen and understood.

So my friends, I hope that has given you some insight and tips that you can apply the next time you go out!

I hope you all have a great week!


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