ADA Compliance – Mini Checklist for Restaurants

Although this list is not complete, it covers the critical elements of a fast-casual restaurant. The ADA standards have immense technical requirements, but this post focuses on the major ones for simplicity. If you need a comprehensive checklist, check this one out.

The issues related to parking space and access to parking are mostly the landlord’s responsibility, but you could be the one sued for non-compliance. So, it is crucial to bring parking-related issues to the landlord’s attention. Any parking space/access requirements are beyond the scope of this post and the focus here is mainly on the sales counter, dining area, and restrooms. But for parking compliance, you can refer to “Parking Area Requirements for California“.

Sales Counter

Sales counter height

The maximum height allowed for a sales counter is 36″. If your store doesn’t have a lowered counter, you can extend the existing counter to one side to provide 36″ x 36″ (HxW) wooden counter space for disabled patrons.

Wheelchair-Accessible Table

ADA complaint table

The wheelchair-accessible table uses the two bases/leg, as shown below. Using a single base table would block the wheelchair leaving not enough knee clearance. Ensure you have 30″ minimum clearance between the two legs and height is within the range 27″ – 34″, as shown in the picture. At least one wheelchair-accessible table for every 20 tables should be provided.

Soda Fountain Machines

General Height Requirements

Generally, all wall-mount dispensers (soap, toilet tissue, paper towel, toiler-seat cover, etc.), door handles, light switches, soda dispensers, and other items should be mounted at a height reachable to the disabled patrons. When there is no minimum or maximum height specified, you can assume 15″ is the minimum and 48″ is the maximum.

Soda Fountain Height

Note that the height in the above picture is measured from the floor to the soda dispenser lever or button (which is the operable part in most machines). So, it is essential to have a beverage table of lesser height. If you use modern touchscreen dispenser machines like Pepsi Spire or Coke Freestyle, they should also follow ADA height requirements. But the touchscreen interface itself has its operability requirements, and you should check with your beverage machine vendor for its ADA compliance. Also, the 48″ max height requirement becomes 46″ when the dispenser or other items like condiment organizer are placed off the table edge by 10″ to 24″.


Restroom ADA Requirements

I tried to provide all measurements in one picture to avoid getting lost searching for all the info in pieces elsewhere. The most common restroom issues you might encounter are (1) Missing or non-compliant grab bars, (2) Dispensers not installed at operable height, (3) Non-compliant mirror height, (4) Missing or non-compliant restroom signs.

ADA restroom
Restroom Door/Signs
Restroom Door

The doors should have a sign similar to the one shown above – with a wheelchair sign. And, the width of the door at least be 32″.

ADA Lock

The door lock should provide an inside push-button for locking/privacy, and it should release the lock while turning the lock lever (one-hand operation).

Door Pressure Gauge

The door force needs to be no more than 5 pounds to open. A door pressure gauge, as shown above, may be used to measure the door opening force.

Door Closer

You need to adjust the closer spring tension if the force needed is more than 5 pounds. Refer to the specific closer model’s manual to figure out the location of the spring tension adjusting screw.

Listed above are some basic items to look for when serving disabled patrons. But beware, you could be sued for any non-compliance issues from vast ADA requirements by the serial ADA lawsuit filers. Check out my other post for more information on serial ADA frivolous lawsuits.

However, you are required to fix only issues which are readily achievable means “easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.” Then there is a “safe haven” provision that applies to older facilities built before 2010. It means the older facilities don’t have to comply with 2010 ADA standards but with 1991 ADA standards. But if you make any changes to older facilities, all alterations should comply with the new 2010 standards.

Additional Resources

DOJ’s ADA Title III regulations:

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