Restaurants and Other Establishments that Sell or Prepare Food

Restaurants and other places that sell or prepare food are covered by a federal law called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and generally must not deny access to people working with service animals. Visit our Public Access page for more general information about service animals and the ADA. Also, some states and municipalities have laws that provide more protection than the ADA for people with service animals.

Food establishments include places like restaurants, cafeterias, coffee shops, cafes, night clubs, bars, convenience stores, grocery stores, ice cream parlors, and other such places where food and beverages are prepared or sold. The ADA allows service animals in such places, even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.

Fears, allergies, cultural beliefs or concerns about other patrons being disturbed by the dog’s presence are not valid reasons for refusing access. Service animal owners cannot be required to sit in a specific area in order to keep their dogs away from other patrons. However, service animals must not block aisles. Further, businesses are not required to allow animals to sit on chairs or tables, or be fed at the table. The seating, food, and drink sold at these establishments are for patrons, not service animals.

Check out The Seeing Eye's Restaurant PSA

For more information about service animals and the ADA, check out the Department of Justice’s Requirements and frequently asked questions. If you are looking for tips on what to do when you encounter a guide dog team, take a look at this etiquette sheet.