If you’re the owner of a long-established restaurant, consider this cautionary tale from an Orange Beach, AL operator. Chris Ybarra, owner of Cotton’s Restaurant in that Gulf of Mexico town, recently was forced to settle for more than $1 million and put his business in jeopardy because of Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

According to AL.com, a website for a group of Alabama newspapers, the U.S. Department of Justice charged him with noncompliance last year after a would-be guest in 2010 complained he could not negotiate the steps of the restaurant with his walker. A letter from the government was Ybarra’s first inkling that there was a problem.

ADA was enacted in 1990; because Cotton’s predated the law Ybarra believed the restaurant was exempt.

“Everybody thinks that,” Ybarra’s attorney said. “That’s why people get in trouble.”