MODESTO -- A Modesto landmark of more than 65 years is set to close its doors Wednesday as a result of an American Disabilities Act lawsuit filed last month.
A&W in downtown Modesto, on G Street, will serve its last customer on Wednesday, closing at 5 p.m. for an employee-only party. The staple known for its hamburgers, root beer floats, and cruise-ins has been in operation since the original food stand opened in the same location in the 1950s.
Johnny and Tammy Matthews, the owners, had their sights set on retirement before the lawsuit was filed in October. Johnny told CBS13 the property is for sale, and his hope was that the next owner would continue the traditions of A&W in the same location. Those plans, he said, changed when he received legal notice that he would be required to make $22,000 worth of improvements.
"It's overwhelming and it almost makes me want to cry," said Matthews.
The lawsuit – filed by Modesto resident Lee Dozier, 81 – represented by the Law Office of Rick Morin, alleges Dozier was discriminated against as a customer of A&W because of his disability. Court documents outline some of Dozier's complaints that include a lack of ADA parking and "failure in maintaining the Property in an accessible condition."
"There is no bright spot when a person can come in and shut down. We've been here since 1957, hundreds of thousands of customers, and one guy can spoil the whole thing," said Matthews.
He told CBS13 that any customer is accommodated and this lawsuit was the first complaint of its kind since he bought the property and business more than 20 years ago.
With the price to make ADA changes, at the same time the Matthews were planning to retire, the move to close was the "only option," Johnny said, to end the lawsuit and its demands.
Customers poured into the business on Tuesday night for "one last meal" or to "say goodbye" as one customer told CBS13, who has been coming to A&W in downtown Modesto since the 1980s.
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