In Search of a Caregiving-Friendly Restaurant


In Search of a Caregiving-Friendly Restaurant

During my presentation, The Future of Caregiving, at our recently completed Third Annual National Caregiving Conference, I shared that co-ops are the future. Companies who understand their customers will be a community rather than an individual will win.

During my speech, I shared some examples of companies which could innovate to better our needs. For instance, I regularly ask restaurants to turn down the music because my parents struggle with background noise because of their hearing aids.

Last night, we ate dinner at a local restaurant, arriving early to avoid the rush and noise that happen later. The host led my parents to the back of the restaurant to seat them at a table in the middle of the room. My dad stopped the host once he realized where this was heading and requested a shorter walk to a booth closer to the entrance. Then, as usual, I struggled to find a place for my mom's cane.

My parents like to eat out. We're now choosing restaurants which best accommodate my parents and that can be a challenge. So often the music is too loud, the tables too close and the light too low. I often wish restaurants had hooks for canes and discreet places for wheelchairs and walkers. I would love to bring my parents to a restaurant where the server speaks loudly and clearly and the menu is easy to read.

As more and more of us take on caregiving experiences, we'll chose carefully where to spend our money. The businesses that meet our caregiving needs will cultivate a loyal following.

What about you? How do you choose a restaurant when dining out with your caree? How do your local restaurants accommodate customers who may have special needs?

Please share your experiences and insights in our comments, below.

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Rachel Hiles

Me and Gma go to Mugs Up, a local drive in that has carhops (not on skates). We go there every Saturday if the weather is nice enough. They know us and miss us when we don’t go. I think going places often enough that the staff know your needs and preferences is key. When we go to a new place, I do what Pat recommended and scope it out first. We don’t really go to too many new places though. We’re both creatures of habit \r\n\r\nUnfortunately for us, as caregivers we’re constanty put in the position of teaching people about accessibility (like you guys did when you asked him for a closer place to the front).


I agree with Tim that calling in advance is often the best way to \"scope out\" a place for caree's. I will often go to the free restaurant review website Yelp ( and look at the photos to see what the place looks like. Features my parents appreciate: Lower volume or a booth where it is more cocoon-like and they can hear better, Servers that explain menu items and are OK with modifying somewhat for food issues, etc., Extra napkins or plates to make sharing easier and to clean up any spills that happen and a to-go box as they will likely not finish all their meal at one sitting. I have often found that some family run restaurants are best as they really seem to go out of their way to accommodate special needs (and if they do, I Thank them by name and tip well). Good topic!


Access can be an issue. Some desirable restaurants are in historic buildings that can't be modified for access. A few years ago we were in Newport, RI for our son's graduation from Naval Officer school. The White Horse Tavern, which dates back to colonial days, cleared a path through their kitchen so my caree's wheelchair could get in. That was spontaneous graciousness by the staff... I think that many restaurants in these competitive days will make accommodation if we call in advance.