A Lafayette advocate for people with disabilities has filed suit against a local restaurant without parking spaces, restroom facilities or entry points accessible for people in wheelchairs.
Liam Doyle, who serves on the city-parish Awareness Committee for Citizens With Disabilities, filed the federal lawsuit Thursday against Bisbano’s Pizza Parlor after he said efforts to work with the restaurant on making accessibility improvements were unsuccessful.
Doyle said there’s no way for his motorized wheelchair to gain entry into the restaurant because of a concrete block at the front door. And as far as the Johnston Street restaurant’s downstairs “Cellar Door” — a nighttime watering hole with live music — he’s been able to access the area only when friends have agreed to carry him down the stairs.
The business is “one of the spots that I always have trouble getting into,” Doyle said Friday.
The lawsuit also states the restroom’s doors and stalls are too narrow to accommodate wheelchairs.
None of the sinks are wheelchair-accessible, and outside, there aren’t designated parking spaces for disabled patrons.
Through the suit, Doyle is asking a judge to weigh in on the matter and to recover any attorney and court costs he incurs during the litigation process.
Restaurant owner George Petro said Friday that he hadn’t gotten formal notice of the lawsuit and declined comment.
Nell Hahn is the Lafayette attorney representing Doyle in the suit. She’s with the nonprofit Advocacy Center, which works to protect the rights of people with mental or physical disabilities, and serves on the Lafayette committee with Doyle.
“If (Bisbano’s) would simply do what every other business does and make their restaurant accessible, we would not bring a lawsuit,” Hahn said Friday.
Petro’s been in business in the house-turned-restaurant since 1990 — the same year Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Act requiring public places to have accessibility accommodations.
Title III of the ADA addresses public spaces and requires removal of barriers for customers with disabilities when “readily achievable” — that is, “easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense,” according to the law.
Some of those measures include installing ramps, widening doorways and installing grab bars in toilet stalls.
Doyle became an advocate for residents with disabilities in 2014, when he launched the “My Inaccessible Lafayette” Facebook page highlighting wheelchair-inaccessible sidewalks and curbs throughout the city.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or call (337) 534-0825.