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CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

NATIONWIDE RESTAURANT CHAIN TO IMPROVE ACCESSIBILITY UNDER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLEMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly 100 Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon restaurants that were not built or remodelled within specific guidelines are being made more accessible to persons with disabilities, under a formal agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement stems from a requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that the Justice Department review newly constructed and altered facilities to ensure that they are in compliance with the law. As part of the review of Lone Star, the Justice Department examined blueprints of the restaurants. In site visits, following the review of the architectural plans, the Justice Department determined that the chain lacked sufficient accessible parking, failed to offer sufficient accessible seating, built inaccessible bathrooms, and installed inadequate ramps. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by public accommodations such as restaurants. The law provides that failure to design and construct facilities that are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination. It requires that all new construction and alterations commenced after the law went into effect comply with specific guidelines known as the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Lone Star, which has 105 restaurants in 29 states, constructed 23 restaurants and remodeled 74 others since January 26, 1992, when the law went into effect. "This agreement demonstrates the need for architects and builders to comply with the ADA at the earliest stages," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "We are pleased that Lone Star is taking the steps necessary to improve access for its customers with disabilities and to ensure that future restaurants are built properly." Under the agreement, Lone Star will: ​ make all of its restaurants fully accessible within 45 days, and comply with the Standards in the future. ​ donate $25,000 to four non-profit disability groups selected by Lone Star, including, the National Council on Independent Living, Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, the American Council of the Blind, and the Learning Disabilities Association, ​ allow site visits by the Justice Department and provide a detailed report outlining its compliance efforts. The restaurant chain cooperated with the Justice Department review and began to correct the problems prior to signing the agreement. "It's better to build it right the first time, than to have to go back and fix it later," added Patrick. "We encourage business owners to urge their architects to carefully review building plans to ensure they are in compliance with the ADA." Last year Attorney General Janet Reno launched a national campaign to educate Americans about their rights and obligations under the ADA. She is committed to reaching out to businesses to urge voluntary compliance with the law. The campaign, which includes television and radio public service announcements, advertises a toll-free ADA information line. The number is 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). The Lone Star chain has restaurants in the following states: Alabama (2), Arkansas (2), Colorado (4), Delaware (3), Florida (8), Georgia (1), Illinois (8), Indiana (8), Iowa (4), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (5), Mississippi (1), Missouri (5), Nebraska (2), Nevada (3), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (13), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (5), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (3), Utah (1), Virginia (10), West Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (2). # # # 95-112