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Man accuses Mishawaka restaurant of accessibility issue

MISHAWAKA, Ind. --

A Mishawaka-based restaurant chain has some customers upset after one man accused a Hacienda Mexican Restaurant of not accommodating his brother who has special needs.

"We were told when we got there that the only area that's handicap accessible was completely filled up,” said John Dylewski, who lives in Mishawaka. “The lady asked my mom if my brother could use the stairs while he was in his wheelchair, which I thought was super inappropriate."

The interaction happened when Dylewski went to the Hacienda 100 Center location to celebrate his birthday with his mom and his brother. He says they were told there was no handicap accessible seating available.

The restaurant offered to put the family on the wait list. Dylewski says that wait was going to be hours.

“They claim that the area was entirely filled with people who were special needs, that it gets rented out every Monday for them," he said.

But he says he doesn’t think everyone filling the area was unable to go into another area. He claims his mom’s vehicle was the only one parked in the handicap parking spots outside the restaurant.

He went to Facebook and posted about his experience. Several people commented on the post, some stating similar issues.

The restaurant says, it’s doing the best it can. Seating is limited in all areas and putting the family on the wait list is all that could be done.

It also said more handicap parking spots were recently added to the restaurant location to exceed the number required.

"I know that we weren't able to satisfy this individual. He did not want to be placed on a wait, and we regret that, but we will continue to accommodate people to the best of our ability," said Hacienda Restaurant Executive Vice President Jeff Leslie.

The restaurant also replied to Dylewski on Facebook, and sent him an email apologizing for the incident, reiterating that accommodating all guests is the goal.

"Any changes that we can see that would allow us to accommodate more guests, of course we'll do that," said Leslie.

Dylewski said the restaurant replies didn’t seem like an answer. He called them a “copy and paste response.”

He says the restaurant should be sure to prioritize people with disabilities in the handicap accessible area.

"I know that's the bar area and that's where people like to sit, but if there are people who come in who have special needs they should have the option to be able to go there," he said.

The building is over 100 years old and the restaurant says because of its structure there has been special attention to accessibility.

It also suggested some of the other more modern locations in the area. Dylewski says suggesting a different location isn’t a solution.

There are no building changes planned for the 100 Center location in the near future.

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