I have recently started buying my lunch at the Beehive Lunch Bar located across the road from the Blind & Low Vision NZ building in Parnell. I have nominated this place for the Access Alliance People’s Choice Awards for how they have thoughtfully implemented accessibility into everyday business.
The menu is simple considering where it’s situated, yet the food is very hearty and satisfying. The customer service is fantastic. The staff are incredibly attentive and patient to those with access needs. I experience this wonderful service first hand every time I go there. For example, the person that serves me would walk around the counter to where the sandwiches are on display and collect my chosen sandwich. This service could be taken for granted, but for people with blind or low vision, such care of duty is greatly appreciated.
We live in a world of immediacy, quick dining, lunch queues, and rushed orders. Can you imagine having a visual impairment and all you want is a sandwich of your choice and a drink, but in order to get your preferred sandwich you would need to literally press your face up against the sandwich display case in order to read the print on the stickers? That is how my experience usually begins every time I shop at a new place, but not at the Beehive Lunch bar!
The lady at the counter noticed that I was struggling to read the stickers in the sandwich display. She walked around the counter and asked if there was a specific type that I was after. Unfamiliar with the menu, I asked what sandwiches they had, to which the lady kindly read through the list of sandwiches. Ever since that day I have been treated with a customer service that is dignified. I didn’t have to disclose my access need, the person who served me knew immediately and served me accordingly. I gather that the Beehive must attract many customers from Blind & Low Vision NZ which might explain their ability to approach different customers.
My opinion of this warm establishment was strengthened after a more recent visit when I observed the manner in which the Beehive Lunch Bar staff served two other customers with access needs. A man who appeared to have a physical disability was being served, while an elderly lady waited in the queue. Both customers were treated attentively and with respect, according to their needs. In spite of the hectic lunchtime rush, neither customer (including myself) were made to feel like a nuisance to the staff or the other customers.
The Beehive lunch bar is a fine example of a business that goes above and beyond. More importantly, the Beehive embodies empathy and diversity in recognising people with access needs as valued customers who contribute to the community. This is a tremendous feat considering that in the 1970s, it was common for people in wheelchairs to be denied service at cafes and restaurants. However, New Zealand needs more businesses like the Beehive Lunch bar.
Accessibility Legislation can create the opportunity for a more inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand. In doing so, Accessibility Legislation will lift the economic and social outcomes for everyone by removing the barriers that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. I would like to encourage our Access Alliance supporters to nominate a business or organisation that meets your access needs.
This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.