Trails End is a bar/restaurant that has been my major hangout for the past year. Although, I have been going there for family fish frys ever since I was in grade school. It is on Sherman Street past Wausau Scrap and is literally at the Trails End!
The parking lot is partially paved and part gravel. When I have to park in the gravel section it is not always wheelchair friendly when the weather is bad. They have one handicapped parking space. The positioning of my lift is awkward, as we have to back into the space to lower the lift. Despite the single spot, the parking lot is large and I have never had trouble with finding a spot where I can place my parking cones to make space for my lift.
The entrance door is wide enough for my chair. However, there is no automatic handicapped door. When it comes to small businesses I can be understanding because a handicapped door can be at least a couple thousand dollars per door to install. Since I cannot travel alone, this is not an issue for me. However, if I was traveling alone I would make sure I had the establishment’s phone number programmed into my phone so I could call and let them know I needed the door open. As a handicapped traveler, you have to be prepared for anything! At Trail’s End main entrance there are no steps or “bumps” that anyone in a wheelchair has to worry about, just roll right on in!
Until this week, the bar was nice and open and easy to navigate. However, they just put in high tables in the bar area. When crowded, this will make things a bit more challenging for me, especially during game time. I try to position my chair in the middle to see the big screen TV, I don’t think it will work anymore. As I said, they added three high tables. It would have been nice for them to have one of those tables to be wheelchair accessible, so I also had the option to eat in the bar area.
Speaking of TV’s, I like that Trails End has a large screen TV mounted high enough on the wall that I can usually see every play of the game. However, if a tall person is standing in front of me I only get to have a nice view their butt! Just a word of advice, try not to stand directly in front of a person in a wheelchair. There is a smaller TV in one corner and I have watched games on that one too.
When it comes to bar entertainment, I can be limited in most bars. I am 23 years old and like to have the same options for adult entertainment as other patrons have. The gambling machines are hard for me to reach and are positioned in corners of the bar that are hard for me to reach. I can reach the controls and play, it is all about positioning, so if it is crowded it may not be worth the hassle. The ATM machine is completely out of my reach. I would have to hand my card over to another person and have them know my pin number. If it is a person I know and trust, not an issue. If it is a stranger, I am at risk of theft. Another option at Trails End would be to run a tab and have the bartender run my card as a credit card. The pool table would be impossible for me to use. My mom talked to the guy who owns most of the machines at Trails End and other popular bars. He said there really is not pool tables designed for wheelchairs. There is a video game I like to play, but it sits on top of the bar, which is too high for me to reach. I have played with my mom, but usually by the time I can effectively read the questions the time is up! We still have fun playing it together, but I would really like to be able to play alone too.
Like just about any other bar you would walk into, the bar itself is too high for me to use. I can effectively order my drink, but I can’t reach my drink on the bar, or use the bar at all. Again, when it comes to small businesses, I understand the financial limitations they have in making special accommodations like a wheelchair friendly bar that would work for all their patrons, able-bodied and disabled. I always travel with my tray, so I guess you could say that I bring my own bar!
A typical bar set up is not ideal for conversation between an able-bodied person and a wheelchair bound person. Most stools are high chairs. This means that someone sitting in a bar stool has to look down at me to talk to me. This has always been my life, so it does not bother me in ways it may bother others. However, sometimes it is hard to be heard or to hear in situations like this. A low bar table would solve this problem as I could be eye level with my friends. Another thing I have to worry about that most people don’t is heavy glasses. My hands are not completely functional and are weaker than most. Heavier pint glasses are hard for me and I have been known to drop a glass or two. I usually will try to remember to bring my own cup which is lighter and had a lid and straw.
Trails End is on the water and they have a really nice deck. There is also a nice grassy area with horseshoe pits and many people dock their boats on the bank. I can access the deck through the door off the bar. The door is wide enough and there are no steps to worry about. However, I cannot access the grassy area from the deck because there are steps in three locations and no ramp. I would have to go around the bar to access the grassy area. During events, it would be nice to access the grassy area from the deck. I have not yet spoken to the new owners about this possibility. They have been consistently making improvements on the bar and restaurant, maybe I will talk to them about adding this to the list! With all of that said, when the weather is nice I can be found on the deck. I love this social area that always has a peaceful feel. My mom and I would go there on a nice summer day and just relax and look at the water.
The bathrooms are accessible to a functional point. I can’t maneuver into the stall, but the door has a lock on it, so we simply lock the door so I can use my hand urinal. In future blogs I will discuss all the options for using public restrooms as a quadriplegic. If the door could not be locked, I would have more of an issue. However that simple door lock makes all the difference.
The restaurant is open enough for me to access most tables. We were just at Trail’s End for a fish fry and I had no issues with getting into the eating area and pulling up to the table. They already had the chair removed for me before I even reached the table! The tables are not high enough for my chair, but that is a problem I always have as my chair is a bit higher to begin with. The chairs are padded and I think that is really great for people with pain issues. I am fortunate to always have my fully padded chair with me!
The food…AMAZING! My favorite is the haddock fish fry. The deep fried shrimp and the cheeseburger come in at a close second. I have yet to try them, but I hear they have weekly slider specials! For a recent Packer game, Trail’s End had free Beer Cheese soup with bratwurst. I am usually not a fan of bratwurst (even though i was born and raised a cheesehead), BUT I LOVED THIS SOUP!! This summer they had a specialty drink made with ice tea and vodka, I am not a big drinker at all, but I loved this cocktail. I highly recommend coming for a Friday Night Fish Fry. If they are really busy, you might have a wait, but it is well worth it!
There is something about Trails End that is even more amazing than the food…THE PEOPLE! When a person is wheelchair bound, we sometimes overlook the obstacles of an establishment because of the people in the establishment. Trails End is that kind of place. The crowd at Trails End are down to earth and very friendly. I always feel at home there. The staff is always accommodating to my needs and it is nice going someplace where the bartender knows what you like to drink. This past summer I went to Trails End to eat with a caregiver. My van lift malfunctioned and we were stranded there. A bar patron who I did not know went out and figured out the manual function of my lift! It is nice to know that there are people who will go out of their way to help others in need and they can be found at Trails End!
I am going to give Trails End a 3 1\2 wheelchair stars for accessibility. Although I have to say this is one of the easiest bars in town for me to navigate.
As far as an enjoyment rating I will give Trails End 4 wheelchair stars. I deducted a star because of the lack of accessibility to the gambling machines, ATM and the video game machine. I also would like to be able to access the grassy area outside from the deck rather than having to drive all the way around the building.
Great Job Trails End!