Not much in Old City is accessible to people with disabilities and older adults — many of the shops, cafes and stores are old buildings that were built with a step in their entryway.
Menagerie Coffee, a coffee shop owned by Elysa DiMauro and April Nett, who had previously worked at Bodhi Coffee and Elixr), seems to be the exception to the rule.
One of the stores patrons, Elizabeth Wilkerson, who uses an electric mobility scooter, said that she loves Old City, “but it’s so inaccessible because it’s old, and people are remodeling — but they’re not really remodeling with an eye for making it accessible.”
However, she said that Menagerie Coffee, “goes above and beyond being accessible.”
James Tyack, the creator of Unlock Philly — a map of accessible locations throughout Philadelphia — also agreed that the shop is accessible. DiMauro said Tyack has been coming into the shop ever since it first opened.
“There aren’t that many fully accessible coffee shops and they’re a great place to meet people, do homework or have a quick meeting. Everyone should be able to do these things. Most of the other cafes have steps at the front and/or inaccessible bathrooms/seating areas which means they’re excluding access to many people,” Tyack added.
The front entryway at Menagerie Coffee
Menagerie Coffee is accessible from the moment you walk into the shop’s giant, double doors, both of which can be easily propped open–it took DiMauro less than 30 seconds to do so–so that the entire entryway is easily accessible. From there, a gentle sloping ramp leads up to Menagerie’s first dining area and the counter.
“There’s a lot of space to move. We tried to position tables and chairs so there would be a lot of space,” DiMauro added.
DiMauro added that this space and direct line to the counter also makes the space accessible to those who are visually impaired.
“That’s an issue that we deal with from a service standpoint. So, where our point of sale is I have a clear view to the door,” she said. “We had a blind customer come in over the weekend. You see them enter and as long as they’re greeted accordingly, we can kind of help people out and bring their coffee to their table.”
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The shop also has another ramp up to the second level, where another seating area and the bathroom are located.
The service counter and ramp to the back seating area and restroom
“You’re not limited to sitting in the very, very front, where people are standing in line. You can also go to the back area, and just hang out there,” Wilkerson said. She added that the bathroom is also very accessible and has a lot space, a rarity, especially in Old City.
While construction has temporarily made the shop difficult to access, most of that is out of Menagerie Coffee’s control.
“I’m always looking for ways we can improve. It’s pretty ideal right now, and until someone tells me–‘hey this doesn’t work for me’–I’m not sure.,” said DiMauro. “I’m open to suggestions, certainly.”
Know of a business that exceeds expectations when it comes to accessibility? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @Generocity!-30-
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