Changemakers: Tim Essary, Offers Sensory Inclusive Restaurant
Tim Essary, owner of Cahawba House in Downtown, Montgomery has been serving up good food at the restaurant since 2016. Along with that good food, he’s tried to provide every customer with a great experience.
“I think when you’re going out to eat with family and friends, we ‘re in the south, so I always think family and friends I think of times where we’re laughing nonstop, we’re having a good time and you want that environment and you want to be in a place where you can do that so,” said Essary.
Essary is also aware that not everyone can handle the loud noises that often come with dining out, which is why he decided to something about it. Cahawba House is now a sensory inclusive establishment, meaning anyone with sensory needs as a result of autism, post traumatic stress disorder or any other disability is welcome here, any day any time.
The restaurant is certified ‘sensory friendly’ by KultureCity, a program that provides businesses with tools needed to allow people with sensory needs the ability “to see and experience all the things the world has to offer.”
“For some people,” Essary says, “the restaurant may be kind of noisy, so we’ve got noise canceling head phones, we’ve got little fidget tools, we have some that are nonverbal, we’ve got little cue cards where people can point to things so if they hungry or not; things like that.”
Essary decided to make Cahawba House sensory inclusive after seeing firsthand the impact Autism had on a previous restaurant employee. “After working with him and watching him come in and watching him not want to touch water and watching him grow and develop led me to do some research and I contacted KultureCity in Birmingham and they were really helpful and sent us these Kulture City bags that we have in the restaurant.”
Next to choices on the menu, Essary believes the sensory bag is one of the best items his restaurant offers.
“I think sensory inclusive days are really great for major events, but having these bags allows people with sensory overloads to not have to wait for an Autism day or without having to wait for a specific day,” said Essary. “Not only are we educating people who don’t know, but those who do have sensory needs can come in; they see it. A lot of them know exactly what it is and we see that they’re thankful and happy.”