Some of Philadelphia’s top restaurants could get a visit from federal investigators to see if they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
The announcement marks the first time the Philadelphia office has audited compliance with the act, which mandates that public accommodations be accessible to people with disabilities.
The owners of 25 local institutions will be asked to fill out surveys about their efforts to meet the act’s requirements. Those responses could could then be followed up by on-site inspections. Restaurants that fail will be asked to enter into a voluntary compliance program or risk a civil lawsuit.
The U.S. Attorneys Office said in a statement that the audits were not prompted by any specific complaints, but says that it is their “congressionally-mandated responsibility to ensure compliance with the ADA.”
Other U.S. Attorneys Offices have recently initiated similar reviews, including in New York, Vermont.
The restaurants were selected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office through media reviews and online rankings. They include Barbuzzo and Village Whiskey.
Representatives there did not return calls for comment.
The reviews may not be a problem for newer restaurants, because architects typically design facilities to be compliant.
“We’re cooperative,” said Felicia D’Ambrosio, a representative of Zahav. “You can’t build a new restaurant that isn’t ADA compliant."