This guide to homeless dining in Lower Bucks County, PA is based on first hand reports from homeless people who visited several eating establishments in lower Bucks County. There were different results from different establishments to the same homeless people who dressed and acted the same way.
The homeless who visited various places in this review came unannounced and visited these establishments the way anyone else would. The main person in the study, a homeless woman with lung cancer who has been undergoing chemotherapy, appears weak and thin, but relatively clean and dressed not much different than those in casual attire who visited the same places. We’ve also included some commentary from restaurant staff.
So here is an account of the good, the bad and the ugly at different restaurants in lower Bucks County we visited.
Denny’s in Langhorne, PA: Very homeless friendly. At Denny’s, everybody is made to feel at home, regardless of their status in society and what they look like. In fact, instead of being turned off by my friend looking tired and sick, they showed compassion. The know my friend and I by name and ask how my friend is doing, sincerely. Because of the chemo, my friend gets tired often and she’s allowed to curl up and sleep. On one occasion, when our waitress noticed my friend nodding off, she told her she could lay down in an unoccupied, large lounge seat.
When the Denny’s staff sees us coming, they automatically pour our coffee and put creamer out for us. We have a special area in the back (we love it; it’s not a Rosa Parks deal) which, when not crowded, automatically head back to and sit down, plug in my laptop and charge cell phones. Senior waiters and waitresses told us we can stay as long as we want, as long as we occasionally buy something to eat. The exception is weekends. The manager took me aside and apologetically asked that on weekends, when it’s crowded, we not hang out “all day,” and explained that waitresses and waiters would lose money if we tied up a table too long.
Waitresses and waiters told me that they don’t understand why other places would boot the homeless when it’s not crowded.
Wendy’s in Levittown, PA. Also very homeless friendly. We’ve gone to this Wendy’s, ordered food and have hung out for hours. We’ve gone over the dinner hour and have stayed until closing. On one occasion, when we left an hour before closing, one of the workers remarked that we were leaving early that night.
On one occasion, a customer talked to a guy there whom I think is the manager. They both knew the score. I overheard the manager say “you might embarrass him.” The customer, however, approached me and offered me money. I thanked him and declined the offer and explained that we had some funds and weren’t that bad off.
On another occasion the manager officially told me he doesn’t have a problem with us hanging out for long periods at this Wendy’s. He mentioned that we sit quietly in a corner, don’t bother anybody, clean up after ourselves, I’m on my laptop and my friend occupies herself with various quiet activities. The guy told me a story about and incident when he worked at another fast food place. Someone had invited an homeless man out of the cold and bought him a meal. One of the customers panicked and alerted the staff that “a homeless person came in.”
“So,” the guy relating the story said, as he shrugged his shoulders, and said that they explained to the frantic customer that the homeless person was invited in for a meal. He also doesn’t understand why people have a problem with the homeless when they visit an establishment and are following the rules.
The Bad and the Ugly
Two Burger Kings in the area booted my friend from the restaurant. One of them booted her permanently, just because she was homeless.
The Burger King in Bristol, PA, the day after when I left my friend there for part of the afternoon, snapped at her and said that she can’t hang out there all day as she was getting her free coffee refill. One evening, as I was talking to a guy I befriended at the restaurant, the shift manager approached me and informed me that my friend wasn’t allowed at this Burger King. When I pressed her for an answer, she said the general manager said my friend couldn’t come to this Burger King simply because she was homeless, because the homeless panhandle (although my friend did not ever do this).
The Burger King near the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA threw my cancer stricken friend out arbitrarily after I dropped her off, with severe weather threatening! She had just finished her lunch, and as she went to get her free coffee refill, the manager swooped down on her and demanded she leave or else he’d call the police. There was no discussion even. To get out of the elements, she walked over to the Boston Market, where the people there were much more hospitable to her, and I picked her up.
When I confronted this Burger King Manager about him arbitrarily throwing my friend out, he said that after someone eats and is alone, there is nobody to talk to so he/she should leave. When I mentioned she had cancer, as if he couldn’t at least tell she was non contagious sickly (and that’s why he booted her out), he made the excuse “I didn’t know she had cancer.” It wasn’t until after I showed him how irrational and wrong he was did he hint at the restaurant being crowded. It wasn’t.
We had visited this Burger King a few times. On one occasion this manager started staring at us after we had spent most of the day there, having had ordered breakfast and lunch. “Are you waiting for a ride?”, he asked. When we said “no”, he mentioned us being there awhile. “Is that a problem?”, my friend replied.
“You’ve been here since this morning”, the manager quipped. “So…”, I replied, and he walked away.
On another occasion, the manager at this Burger King told us, about 10:35 p.m., “you better start packing up, we’re closing in ten minutes.”
I mentioned that the restaurant closes at 11 p.m.
“We have to clean up…”
We packed up and left
The McDonald’s in Fairless Hills is another eating establishment hostile to the homeless. The manager, whom I refer to as “Twenty Minutes” kicked my homeless friend out. She told the manager that she was waiting for a ride as she nursed her coffee, but that didn’t matter to Ms. Minutes. I couldn’t find my friend when I went to pick her up. The manager was cryptic and snippety when I asked about my friend. It was cold and raining, and my friend found the shelter of a nearby office building, where I picked her up.
This was the second time Ms. Minutes booted my friend. The first time Ms. Minutes made my friend leave, my friend called me and I picked her up, as she got in touch with me before the 20 minute warning was up. After this first McDonald’s booting, as I was eating with my friend, this manager did a California stop, turned and quickly glanced at my friend, as if she were a dog, and uttered “remember, 20 minutes”, and walked away.
The Subway in Fairless Hills kicked my friend out shortly after I dropped her off. They falsely accused her of smoking in the restroom. It was about 70 degrees out, with a light wind, and sunny. There would be no reason not to smoke outside anyway.
When I pressed the manager over the phone about why my friend was booted, and explained the homeless sometimes just want to find a place to hang out awhile to take a load off and questioned why that would be a problem when it wasn’t crowded, he responded flatly that the Subway wasn’t a place for the homeless.
You’ve read about the good, bad and the ugly in regards to homeless dining in lower Bucks County. I hope this gives you a heads up about how these establishments treat people.