How Do Restaurants Cater to Special Needs Customers?

Sep 16 17:18 2021 Georgie Hawthorne Print This Article

We all love going to restaurants with family and friends to celebrate a special occasion or to simply enjoy a meal and the company we are with.

We love being served by polite and pleasant waiters wearing their elegant and fancy server aprons,Guest Posting and adorned with bright pleasing smiles. For restaurateurs, their main aim is to create an enjoyable and comfortable experience for all their customers.


When we say all customers, we certainly mean everyone, and it includes even those who have special needs. Restaurants try their very best to cater to all the needs of their guests, and try to provide a pleasant experience for all. Guests whose special needs are met by a restaurant will appreciate the extra attention and care taken by the owners and staff, and of course this will lead to more loyal customers for the business. In addition, many countries have special laws stating the minimum requirements to assist disabled persons or those with special needs to patronize businesses, which restaurants and hotels need to adhere to. This is a very good move by governments who endeavor to create inclusion for such communities within society.


So, what can restaurants actually do to make themselves more accessible to those customers who have special needs?

  • Braille signs – Braille is a system of dots which represent letters of the alphabet, which can be read by visually impaired persons. Such signs make a restaurant more accessible for them, and even menus can be printed in braille for their use.


  • Wider aisles – Wider aisles make it easier for those using a wheelchair to move around the restaurant, and ensures that they will not bump into other guests or furniture. It is also useful for the elderly who may be using walkers or canes, or those who may need someone to support or assist them.


  • Offer help – Restaurant and hotel staff should be especially trained in how to help those customers with special needs, and to be helpful and pleasant at all times. It helps when staff are wearing their branded waist aprons or server aprons, so that guests can identify them easily when assistance is required. Opening doors for such clients, rearranging seating as required, extra help and service at the tables, reading the menu to those who are visually impaired, even knowing sign language to communicate with the aurally impaired are small ways in which the staff can help guests feel comfortable and at ease.


  • Do not make special needs customers feel uncomfortable – Staff should be given training on how to greet special needs customers the same way they would other guests, and not make them feel uncomfortable with the way the staff behave. Sometimes staff may try to ignore such guests if they do not know how to handle them, which is why extensive training on such situations is vital. It is equally important that staff are aware of the different types of disabilities that people may have and know how to recognize them and cater to their specific needs.


  • Accessible restrooms – It is always best to have separate restrooms for disabled persons and for the elderly, with special attention given to cater to their needs. Having separate restrooms will also help them to be able to use the facilities more conveniently, rather than waiting in line, if it is a busy night.


  • Patience – Patience is a very important aspect when dealing with those with special needs, and they should be given sufficient time to settle in to their table, to place their order and even when leaving the restaurant or hotel. Staff should know not to rush such customers and to give them ample time to enjoy their experience at the restaurant, at their own pace.


Making your business more accessible to disabled or special needs customers is a move in the right direction, and very minor changes can make a big difference in the experience they have at your establishment. Braille signs and menus, wider aisles and accessibility to all facilities of the restaurant, including an empathetic and well-trained staff cadre can help your special needs customers to be self-sufficient and independent, and assists greatly towards inclusive living. It is also best that restaurants be aware that certain people with special needs may have service animals with them, and catering to them will be an added advantage. This can easily be done by allocating a separate area for special needs tables, where guests can keep their service animals with them, without disturbing other guests.

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About Article Author

Georgie Hawthorne
Georgie Hawthorne

Virginia Hawthorne, a.k.a Georgie writes books and articles, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. She’s best known for writing fiction and fantasy. She also writes non-fiction, on subjects ranging from business strategies to world facts and historical subjects. She enjoys pizza, as should all right thinking people. She lives in the west suburb of Sri Lanka with her mother and her outrageously annoying two siblings, and two cats. 

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