California Burger Joint Forced to Shut Down Over ADA Lawsuit

After 21 years under its current ownership, Ford’s Real Hamburgers in Land Park fried up its last burger and sold its last milkshake Saturday night.

Owner Hank Vereschzagin’s father Pete bought the business in 1991. Employees said a combination of factors led to the decision to close up shop. The poor economy, they said, was at the top of the list and then, in addition to that, as KTXL-TV reported that a local attorney who makes his living filing ADA cases — many on his own behalf — had recently sued the restaurant.

ADA lawsuit attorney Scott Johnson is known for going after businesses not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and has sued some 2,000 of them.

The decades-old Sacramento burger joint was forced to close its doors because the owner says he can’t afford to bring it up to code.

“We scrimped and saved and cut down the staff. I’m down to six employees,” owner Hank Vereschzagin told KTXL.

As the station noted, Ford’s is indeed out of ADA compliance: There isn’t enough room to roll into the bathroom in a wheelchair. But Vereschzagin said he just doesn’t have the money to fix the more than 60-year-old building.

Jerry Silvia, a longtime Ford’s customer who is paralyzed from the chest down, said the lack of accessibility has never stopped him from enjoying his regular order: a 1/3-pounder with fries.

“I’ve been coming here 21 years,” Silvia said. Of Johnson, he added: “He’s strictly crusading on his own behalf.”

Work being done to bring Ford’s in compliance with ADA

Sylvia who uses a wheelchair himself, said he tried to help Vereschzagin renovate the place.

“Put a parking place in the parking lot, no problem,” said Sylvia, “make a table for the handicapped, no problem. Then you go to the restrooms and that alone was going to be about fifteen thousand dollars. There’s no possible way he could do it.”

Customers who stopped by Saturday night had no idea it was the last time they’d be able to buy one of the restaurant’s award winning hamburgers.

One of those who did get a little advance notice was 17 year customer Speros Somkopoulos.

“I intended to come here next week,” he said, “and I found out about the closing of the restaurant so I came today to get, I guess, the final burger on their final day. It’s just sad. Very, very sad.”

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