A Guide to ADA Compliance for Restaurants

A Guide to ADA Compliance for Restaurants
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All customers and employees have the right to suitable access to public spaces. As such, the Americans with Disabilities Act enabled regulations that offer guidelines to help restaurants and other establishments accommodate disabled patrons and staff. Restaurant ADA compliance guidelines are a resource for business owners, landlords and architects who aim to make accessibility a priority in their construction, buildings and properties.

What Is ADA Compliance, and Why Is It Essential for Restaurants?

ADA compliance means meeting all the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. These guidelines define and explain the regulations public buildings, properties and restaurants must adhere to. Newly designed, built, renovated and existing public buildings and properties should comply to ensure disabled patrons and employees can access any public place they want to enter.

The ADA checklist for existing facilities is a resource business owners and landlords can use to ensure their restaurants are ADA-compliant. Newly built structures use this to ascertain they meet all the requirements and standards for accessible design.

By following the regulations, restaurant owners ensure the best possible service to their customers. For example, if your business does not have accessible ramps and walkways, potential diners may turn elsewhere. Through ADA compliance, you give employees and customers peace of mind by removing barriers and providing a pleasant experience with excellent service. 

Who Is Responsible for ADA Compliance?

The landlord and tenant are responsible for ADA compliance. There may be an agreement on who will be responsible for planning and making the changes to comply with the regulations. Regardless of who implements the changes, the property owner and business manager are liable if they do not meet ADA-compliant standards.

The consequences of non-compliance with the laws and regulations include fines of between $55,000 and $75,000 for the first offense. The fine will increase to $150,000 for future violations. Disabled people also have the right to file lawsuits against individuals who violate ADA regulations. 

ADA Requirements for Customer Accessibility

Along with the ADA compliance checklist restaurants can use, Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines will help you create an accessible space for disabled employees and customers. These include requirements for the parking lot, building entrance, doors, seating and restrooms. 


The restaurant’s exterior must comply with ADA standards, including the parking lot. Modified vehicles and wheelchairs must be able to access the property without obstructions and barriers.

  • Designated parking spaces must be near the entrance of the restaurant.
  • At least one of every eight van-accessible spaces must be eight feet wide. 
  • One out of every 25 parking spaces must be handicap-accessible parking.
  • There must be at least eight feet of space beside the handicapped parking to allow wheelchairs to enter and exit the van.
  • The surface of the parking area must be flat with no more than a 2% slope.
  • Add signs to alert other customers and employees to avoid parking in that space. 

Building Entrance 

The restaurant’s entrance and exit include the ramps, railing and walkways leading up to the front door of the building.

  • Install one curb cut to access and exit the parking lot and another up to the ramp.  
  • The ramp must be at least 36 inches wide to provide restaurant wheelchair accessibility. It must be flush with the ground with no more than 2% slope.
  • Ramps longer than six feet must have secure handrails.
  • The railing must be between 30 and 38 inches high. 
  • Use a non-slip surface material for the ramp.
  • Landing must extend at least 18 inches beyond the door and 60 inches from the door.
  • Provide an alternative solution like a lift if customers and employees cannot access the ramp.


Doors refer to all your restaurant’s entry, exit and restroom points.

  • Clear or remove obstructions like potted plants to help customers and employees enter without issues.
  • Remove or secure mats to the surface. 
  • Replace round doorknobs with loop or lever handles.
  • The entrance must be at least 36 inches wide.
  • Use power-assisted or automatic doors if possible.
  • Install swinging doors with hinges.
  • Provide an alternative entry and exit if your restaurant has a turnstile or revolving door. 

Seating and Tables

ADA seating requirements for restaurants include the following guidelines.

  • At least 5% of tables must be ADA-compliant. If a restaurant has fewer than 20 tables, one should be handicap-accessible. 
  • The chairs and tables must be movable to accommodate wheelchairs.
  • The table must be a maximum 34 inches high and at least 28 inches low. 
  • The seating area must have a clear floor area of 30 by 48 inches. 
  • Provide a 36-inch-wide route in the restaurant. 
  • There must be a 27-inch knee clearance from the floor to the bottom of the table. It should also have a 19-inch knee clearance under the table. 


ADA compliance for restrooms should accommodate customers and employees.

  • Install signage to help customers identify which restrooms to use. 
  • Lower the loop or lever door handles.
  • Remove or rearrange obstructions that prevent disabled people from accessing the restroom.
  • There must be enough space in the restroom and stalls for a wheelchair user to move around unobstructed. 
  • Install handrails in the toilet stall to prevent falling and provide assistance.
  • Sinks must be 34 inches high.
  • If possible, install paddle-handled faucets. 
  • Add a raised seat if the toilet seat is too low.
  • Lower mirrors for accessibility. 

Considerations for Employees

ADA compliance standards must include equal accessibility for everyone. That means removing all barriers to help employees move around freely and access restaurant facilities with no obstructions.

The regulations cover those who are already employed and disabled people seeking employment. To avoid discrimination, give disabled people equal opportunities to learn skills, further their careers and become self-sufficient. Employers should make reasonable accommodations instead of discrediting an employee for their disability. 

Get ADA-Compliant Ramps From National Ramp

Get ADA-Compliant Ramps From National Ramp

With National Ramp, you can have ADA-compliant entryways in no time. We provide quality ramps using durable material to help you meet ADA standards and become accessible to your customers and employees. To get a quote and CAD drawing in two hours, call us today at 845-610-0717 or complete our online contact form

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