Foodservice Equipment Reports

Updated ADA Standards Take Effect

The American Disabilities Act standards from 1991 officially expired March 15 and were supplanted by the updated 2010 ADA standards.

The updated requirements and the deadline were well-known to most manufacturers and operators. These updates include requirements on product access within foodservice equipment (no higher than 48 inches above the floor), as well as the need for full accessibility in continuous counters in the same facility used for ordering and pick-up sections.

Another new ADA requirement requires bar countertops to have an accessible section available for disabled patrons, either by lowering the bar’s height or—if they acted by March 15—by installing accessible tables. Operators were in compliance if, in the same area as the bar, they had a table or tables with a top height of 28”-34”, knee space of at least 27” high x 30” wide, and a minimum depth of 19”. A 36”-diameter square table with a pedestal did not meet this requirement.

The updated ADA regulations grandfather in those restaurants with “elements,” i.e., tables, counters and bars, which met the 1991 requirements. Those establishments are safe-harbored from complying with the updated requirements “unless or until such elements undergo alteration.”  All other operations have to comply with the law by lowering a section of the bar.

The official ADA requirements for foodservice counters and bars are:

“Where food or drink is served at counters exceeding 34” (865 mm) in height for consumption by customers seated on stools or standing at the counter, a portion of the main counter, which is 60” (1525 mm) in length minimum, shall be provided in compliance with 34” maximum counter height and 19” clear depth, or service shall be available at accessible tables within the same area.”

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