The average able-bodied person could never even begin to understand how difficult it is–today, in 2021–to participate in the timeless social activity of dining and beverage-ing out in the real world. The barriers encountered (menial and not), are endless.
For an institution that self-classifies as the “hospitality industry,” it easily averages a 1-2/10 on access and inclusion.
Enter: Contento, Queens, New York City.
“Contento’s ethos and tagline is ‘accessible for all.’ Table tops are a few inches higher than standard to accommodate wheelchairs. Aisles between tables are wide, and guests can easily roll up to a low, wheelchair-accessible bar (overlooking the dining room and open kitchen, these are the best seats in the house), and no ramps or stairs and the front entrance or restroom entrance.” (EaterNYC, 2021)
“It is the brainchild of sommelier Yannick Benjamin, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a car accident in 2003 left him paralyzed from the waist down. His passion for wine led him to adapt in order to continue doing what he loved, including outfitting his wheelchair with a special table so that he could continue to serve and teach about wine. Among Benjamin’s other notable accomplishments is the founding of “Wine on Wheels,” one of New York City’s largest and most exciting wine events. “Wine on Wheels” brings hundreds of sommeliers together to pour a multitude of wines from around the world to raise money benefiting individuals with limited mobility. The event is in its eighth year.” (Forbes, 2021).
BONUS POINTS: The cuisine is rooted in Chef Oscar Lorenzzi’s native Peru but shows a variety of international influences.
We will see you quite soon, Contento!