A Franklin Township café that opened earlier this year in an historic building received the Thomas M. Kennedy Excellence in Accessibility Award from the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The owners of Asbury Coffee Mill, Malia and Gary Corde, made extensive renovations to the 1862 structure to assure it is fully accessible to all patrons.
Malia Corde, who worked as a disability advocate for 25 years, said that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets minimum compliance standards, and does not mean a facility is accessible to everyone.
“Having a young adult son who has grown up with a lot of physical challenges, both getting in and out, and participating in our community, we wanted to make sure it was truly accessible for all,” she said.
Making their business accessible was the “Number One priority,” said Gary Corde.
The couple and two of their three sons, Colin and Kyle, attended a freeholder board meeting where the annual award was announced. Named for a former county resident who was a relentless advocate for people with disabilities, the Thomas M. Kennedy Excellence in Accessibility Award was established after Kennedy’s death in 2008 to recognize individuals, businesses, organizations and service groups that are user-friendly and accessible to all, and/or have initiated notable efforts and improvements that facilitated accessibility.
The award “shows you’ve gone above and beyond for the County of Warren,” Freeholder Director Jason J. Sarnoski told the Corde family. Making a building fully accessible is “so often difficult to do, because we know there’s more upfront costs,” Sarnoski said, “but the benefits for residents pay off in the long run.”
The family installed a ramp that is fully integrated into the entry structure and “doesn’t have that ‘afterthought’ look that is common at many restaurants,” according to the award nomination submitted by Brianne Lermond of DAWN – Center for Independent Living, an organization that works to help people with disabilities remain independent.
The café’s seating is arranged to provide barrier-free access and the tables were selected with wheelchair access in mind. The restroom was relocated to the other side of the building to ensure access.
The café received a plaque as well as a window sticker designating the business as a Kennedy award winner. Asbury Coffee Mill is located at 432 Old Main Street, Asbury, and is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, as well as for special events.