HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Lisa Blankenship is a frequent patron of the Hwy 55 in Huntington. While her favorite items include the chicken platter and spicy shrimp, nothing beats the banana split, something she gets on every visit.
“I’ve got to watch my waistline, but I just can’t help it,” she joked. “I can’t help myself.”
Blankenship, however, is unable to read a traditional menu; she is blind.
“My husband usually is with me, and I had to let him read everything to me,” she said. “You want to read it for yourself and be independent.”
Hwy 55 operator Erin Downard noticed this during one of Blankenship’s visits, which gave the restaurant staff an idea: develop a Braille menu for her.
“We talk a lot at Hwy 55, in general, about love your neighbor, and that’s a concept that comes to service but also beyond the service,” she said. “What sets us apart is that we do try to reach out to our customers in a way that’s personal.”
Downard said they contacted the Cabell-Wayne Association of the Blind about developing a menu in Braille, a process Downard described as “super easy.”
“They got a copy of our menu and made a menu. We have a couple of copies here now for Lisa and down the road for whoever may need it,” she said.
The staff presented Blankenship with the menu in mid-September, who was touched by the gesture.
“They’re just so wonderful here. They don’t make it feel like an inconvenience for them if you’re handicap,” she said.
“All restaurants should try to accommodate their handicap patrons because it really will make a lot more people come in, and I appreciate it so much,” she added.
Downard agreed, noting just how easy it was to get the Braille menus made up for Hwy 55.
“Just the joy that it gave Lisa to read. That’s even what she said: ‘I can read myself today,'” Downard said.