A Delaware pizza parlor denied a family from entering the establishment with their young children – one of which is severely disabled – due to the restaurant’s “no stroller” policy.
Matt Brown along with his fiancée, toddler daughter, and six-month-old son were entering Nicola's Pizza in Rehoboth Beach when they were turned away because of the medical stroller his son is required to remain strapped in.
Brown’s son, Colton, was born with spinal muscular atrophy – a genetic disorder that prohibits him from being able to use his muscles. He was just diagnosed with the disorder in May.
Due to his condition, Colton must stay strapped in a special stroller that allows him to lay flat so he can breathe and keeps him connected to tubes that keep him fed and clear mucus from his airways.
While on vacation, the Pennsylvania family was visiting Rehoboth Beach when they discovered Nicola’s which appeared to be a popular eatery.
Brown recounted the incident on Facebook, writing that upon entering Nicola’s they were asked by the teen hostess if they needed a high chair.
When Brown explained his son’s condition and his need to remain in the stroller, the hostess offered to put a high chair upside down so that a car seat could be placed in the legs, but of course, that still would not work as Colton must remain flat.
After asking if the restaurant was handicap accessible and receiving an exasperated “no” from the hostess, the family left the restaurant feeling “humiliated,” Brown said.
At some point, either the hostess or Brown should have requested the help of a manager. It’s clear from Brown’s perspective that both parties were getting very frustrated with the situation and it’s understandable if, by that point, Brown and his family no longer wanted to eat there anyway.
But the hostess could have learned a valuable lesson in handling special circumstances if the manager would have been called in that moment.
Brown later called the establishment to complain about his experience to the co-owner, Nick Caggiano Jr, who offered a very curt and sarcastic apology and blamed the incident on the hostess being new and the fact that she had not been trained on certain exceptions to the stroller rule as they relate to the disabled.
“Bottom line is my family was embarrassed and humiliated out front because of the complacency of the training of staff,” Brown said.
Caggiano later released a statement explaining that he never trained his staff how to handle people using the specialized strollers because he was unfamiliar with them and he regretted that the incident gave people the impression that Nicola’s isn’t accommodating to the disabled.