Disability Rights Pennsylvania Lawsuit Targets Iron Chef Star's New Restaurant

pizza cooking in a flaming hot wood fired pizza oven

Andy Jones
March 12, 2017

In a federal lawsuit filed March 2, Disability Rights Pennsylvania alleges that a new restaurant from Food Network and Iron Chef star Jose Garces is inaccessible to people with mobility disabilities, and those who use wheelchairs.

“Although the ADA was passed 27 years ago, architectural barriers still exist,” DRP Staff Attorney Jamie Ray-Leonetti said in a news release. “An inaccessible business can interfere with the ability of people with disabilities to enjoy the same benefits as patrons without disabilities.”

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Michele Leahy, who has previously sued other establishments, visited the restaurant before its opening, based on concerns from other restaurants owned by Garces. She was accompanied by two DRP attorneys, who warned the owners of multiple potential Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Although the restaurant fixed a previously inaccessible restroom door, Leahy ran into a variety of other barriers when she visited the restaurant after its opening.

Specifically, there are four steps up to the main entrance, with no sign pointing toward accessible entrance.

Another entrance, to the restaurant’s newly constructed patio, contains four steps. Another possible entrance, from behind the restaurant, was blocked by an overly steep ramp, a cracked parking lot surface and the presence of a locked door that could only be accessed upon request.

The ADA mandates that construction or alterations of places of public accommodations, such as restaurants, after January 26, 1993, comply with the Department of Justice’s accessibility regulations.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, can be read here [PDF].

Disability Rights Pennsylvania and Disability Rights Washington are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Pennsylvania and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.