When you want to go have a beer, and specifically a RoHa beer, what do you do? You walk right in the front door, plop down on a bar stool, browse the menu, make a decision you won’t regret, and holler at the barkeep.
Well, let me roll this at you: what if you used a wheelchair?
OK, rewind several months, or a year or more. We were hosting a Drag Brunch on a Saturday and up rolls Stan Clawson in his wheelchair. A very mobile, independent human that has been rolling the streets of Salt Lake for over 26 years. He rolls to the front door only to discover that we had erroneously blocked off our ADA Ramp. A quick 180 and he had to roll home, unbeknownst to us.
When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020 there was a lot of encouragement to get people outside if you were going to gather. At that time RoHa did not have an outdoor space for drinking. In an effort to survive, and offer the community a place to get together outside, we built an outdoor patio, complete with a fence made out of pallets to meet the DABC requirements. A great space for people to drink outside during a global pandemic.
So proud of ourselves, we now had an outdoor space for people to enjoy. What we did not realize is that the fence blocked off our ADA access ramp.
Stan, being the conscientious citizen that he is, dropped me an email and told me his side of the story. I was embarrassed, I was broken-hearted, and I was very apologetic. I offered to fix the fence that day - which I did - and I sent him photos.
In my return email, I asked him to return to RoHa, enjoy a beer on me, and take a look at our taproom for other pain points that we could potentially resolve to improve our accessibility.
Stan returned, and we had a beer. We chatted about how this whole scenario came to be, and he was so understanding, and grateful that we had worked to resolve it quickly. It should have never been a problem in the first place, and it was a simple fix.
He suggested providing an ADA accessible table so that a patron with a disability could roll up and imbibe with their friends or rolling solo. We made the adjustment to one of our tables by sliding the legs in and offering a place to roll up for a sip of beer.
As we tick through time, we applied for a grant through Salt Lake City to improve the look of our building to pedestrian traffic. We were fortunate to be awarded this grant money, which included a lot of improvements to the outside of our building and a new ADA Ramp. This new ADA ramp is/will be on the opposite side of our building, and the parking lot will be re-striped to give ADA access to our parking lot.
In the press conference, RoHa was recognized for receiving this grant, and for applying a portion of the funds to improve accessibility in our community (Minute 6:40). We were honored to be recognized for something that seems so intuitive and obvious. Simple accessibility to those who are in a wheelchair….simple.
Stan is grateful for this simple act. The guy loves beer and wants to improve accessibility to all local businesses. I too would encourage all businesses, small, large, local, or global to take a look at their accessibility. Most of us walk around and can get most places, but put yourself in someone else's wheels (shoes), and ask yourself if everyone can access your business.
Have a look around, and let's support accessibility in our community! At the end of the day, we would love to tilt a glass with anyone and everyone in our community. Cheers!