6049 Seaview Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98107-2690
Cafe reservations: 206.782.0094
Ray’s Café is the restaurant that we Seattleites show off to aunts, uncles, sisters, parents, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends who are visiting from the Midwest, the Southwest, or any other place that is inland or dry. At Ray’s Cafe we can give our visitors a water view so beautiful it will make them weep and a delicious taste of Pacific NW seafood without breaking the bank. When my family comes to visit in the summer, I’ll take them out for a meal on the Cafe’s famous deck and buy them a hat so they can sit there as long as they want staring at the play of light on water. On a good day, they’ll be this close to seals, ships heading out to sea from the Ballard Locks, and the majestic Olympics.
If you are an old Seattle friend, I’ll ask you to meet me inside on a late Friday afternoon, so we can celebrate a long week at work with an exquisite drink from the Café’s bar and a smoked salmon skewer or bowl of corn and clam chowder.
If it’s cold and gray out there, if the line between sky and water are blurred, if the mountains are tucked behind charcoal quilts, that’s fine, too. Inside, the Café is warm, cozy, delicious. Ray’s Café is a great spot, night or day, January or July, inside or outside, and it is easily accessible to people in wheelchairs.
Parking: Several handicapped parking spots can be found just past the entry-way deck on the right side of the valet parking kiosk. Wave to the valets and curve around to park in one of the wheelchair-designated spots. You’ll be right next to the ramp that will take you to the deck and the front door.
Entrances: Once you are on the big front deck from the parking lot, there are no stairs to the entry. You will enter via a set of double doors, which are not automated and are difficult to hold open and push through at the same time. There are often people waiting to get into the downstairs dining room—Ray’s Boathouse, more formal and upscale than the Café—and the Boathouse hostess station is close to the door, so usually someone sees you trying to open the doors and comes to help. Once inside, a staircase on your left takes you up to Ray’s Café. If you ignore the staircase and continue straight past the coat room and the kind hostesses on your right, you will find the elevator just beyond the hostess station. The elevator takes you up to the Café.
Once in the Café, if you are heading outside to the deck, do not attempt the doorway that is across a little swath of indoor dining space and almost directly in front of you. That doorway requires you not only to move through diners, but it has a high threshold. Instead, ask your hostess to take you through the bar to the doorway at its southwest corner. Although a few bar patrons may have to shift their seats a bit so you can get through, it’s pretty much an easy journey through the bar and onto the deck that runs the length of the Café.
Tables: Many tables on the deck easily accommodate wheelchairs. However, because of the way seating works on the deck, sometimes you will have to sit with your back to the breathtaking view behind you. This is a only a slight drawback because that view is nearly perfectly reflected in the windows in front of you. But if space is available, ask the waitstaff to help you rearrange chairs so you can have a better view. And ask for a blanket if you are feeling chilly. Ray’s offers blankets for the chill and sells hats, as previously stated, to protect the eyes. No need to be uncomfortable on the beautiful deck.
Inside the Café, tables are close together and nearly always full. Alas, the tables that run along the windows are not easy to get to and tightly seat two. But many of the other tables in the restaurant are flexible with fold-out sections that make them bigger, and they can be moved to accommodate wheelchairs. Tables right by the fireplace as well as further back into the restaurant work great for people in chairs without making life difficult for servers or other diners. An open corridor running along the outside of the dining area and decorated with carved wooden salmon making their run makes passage to and from the tables deep into the restaurant space easy and comfortable. Wheelchairs fit under the tables easily, and the waitstaff are patient, sweet, and helpful in getting people situated.
Restrooms: Because of that open corridor, getting to and from the bathrooms in the middle of dinner without disturbing other diners is a breeze. The women’s restroom is at the end of a narrow corridor, which might pose problems for people turning their own chairs. It was fine for me. The bathroom has two stalls, with the one farther from the door the handicapped stall. That stall is long and roomy, with a raised seat on the toilet and toilet paper both nearby and, oddly, on the opposite wall. The sink is easy to use. The men’s bathroom also has a handicapped stall.
Photos of interior space online: Yes
Photos of entrances online: No
Reservations taken: Yes. When you call to reserve a table, let them know that you will be coming in with a wheelchair. Tell them Spoken Wheel highly recommended them!
What the wheelchair pusher has to say: There’s a wide and smooth ramp from the parking area to the deck by the entry, although it’s a touch on the steep side. There’s a slight slope to the front door, which makes getting through the non-automatic doors extra challenging because you are faced with a situation of holding onto the chair so it doesn’t roll backwards while trying to open the doors. If the person in the wheelchair is adept with her cane and can hold one door open while the pusher gets the other door open, it’s okay. Customers or Ray’s employees will often see you struggling and come immediately to your help. Once inside, everything is smooth and easy sailing. The deck is wide enough between tables to move easily.
Overall: Four and a half wheels for very good accessibility, except for the entry doors.
Photo credit for chowder/salad: www.foodspotting.com