Amy, left and Pat Rybar.
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Pat Rybar is still a bit speechless.
Rybar and his two daughters drove by McKellar Confectionery on the city’s South side Friday when they decided to stop in for something to eat.
His daughter Amy, 9, is in a wheelchair. After seeing that the tables on the lower level of the restaurant were too high for her he decided to carry her and her chair upstairs. He got to the second step when he heard someone from behind the counter say wheelchairs were not allowed.
“I paused for a second thinking ‘what’s not allowed’ and I was kind of shocked,” Rybar said.
“I was stunned and I’m not going to stand there and argue and make a scene or anything so we just ended up leaving it at that and left.”
But server Maria Karoutas, who spoke to Rybar that day, said it was a misunderstanding. For Amy’s safety, she told Rybar to dine in the lower level of the restaurant, that’s all
“They got kind of upset. It happened all so fast but I did provide my services to them at the lower level. There was no refusing of service them,” she said.
The local landmark has plenty of customers with special needs who understand, Karoutas said. One customer in a wheelchair calls ahead with her order so Karoutas can meet her at the door.
“She’s OK with that because she understands that she can’t make her way in here. We do the best that we can to serve all of our customers.”
Rybar disagrees, and says no one in a wheelchair could reach the tables on the lower level.
His family, including Amy, has gone to the restaurant before but never with a wheelchair.
“The fact that they had just outright refused to let her up with her chair and for her that’s her legs,” he said. “That’s something that shouldn’t happen in this day and age.”
Amy said she likes the restaurant but she was pretty upset about the experience.
“It made me kind of mad and when my mom got home I cried,” she said.
Rybar said he just wants people to know what happened so it doesn’t happen again. He understands not all businesses are accessible but he’s never seen anything like what happened last Friday.
The family just wants the restaurant to apologize to Amy and perhaps install some sort of ramp.
“Both would be really good,” he said. “We’re not out for any monetary gains or anything.”
Karoutas said the restaurant is looking into making the place more accessible
“I’m sorry that they feel that way but it wasn’t our intention to upset them in any way,” she said.
“I was just looking out for the little girl and all of my other customers in here.”
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