In many ways, your restaurant’s restroom is just as, if not more so, important as the dining room.
As many diners will attest, a dirty restroom in their mind equates to a dirty kitchen. Maybe it’s because a restroom is a space that’s considered more “behind-the-scenes,” and the amount of care you take with your restroom maintenance is reflective of the thoroughness of your cleaning practices in the kitchen.
Now I’m not suggesting you go so far as to make your restroom the theme of your restaurant, like the Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei, or its stateside sister Magic Restroom Cafe which failed to launch with the same success in the states (go figure).
You may find just a little care goes a long way, and keeping your restroom current is as easy as stocking up on a few of the necessities. Even if you have a small establishment with a co-ed, single room restroom, you’ll find that these simple additions are all it takes to creating a positive experience with your diners.
Here are 10 ways you can make a difference in your restroom facilities:
1. Accessibility Compliance
Since 1990, the Americans with Disability Act requires specific design and engineering standards to make public restrooms accessible to disabled individuals. Some of these guidelines include lowered sinks and urinals, and wider stalls for wheelchair access that also feature grab bars near the toilet. Don’t get hit with a large fine for something completely preventable.
2. Eco Friendly Water Usage
Water restrictions aren’t going away. As more locations are hit with unseasonably dry weather, more pressure is put on restaurants and consumers to conserve their water usage. Try investing in faucets with sensors that automatically shut off the water if a forgetful guest leaves it running; or you could equip your men’s room with waterfree urinals that are touch-free and reduce your water and sewer costs. But if that’s not enough you could go so far as to feature a “Smart Sink” like Denver’s Root Down, which recycles toilet water to wash with your hands. If you can get past the ick factor (they assure you the water is clean), this is a great way to cut down on millions of gallons of water.
And if the warm, fuzzy feeling of saving the environment isn’t enough, maybe learning that 58% of consumers are likely to make a restaurant choice based on its eco-friendly practices is.
3. Clothes Hooks
This is a shout out to my ladies, who wouldn’t welcome a much-needed hook or side table in the restroom when it comes to placing our purse somewhere. When faced hookless, our options are A) place that bad boy on a dirty floor or B) straddle that purse on your knee while you go about your business. Please, please…for the love of $30 or less (stylish models like this hook from Bobrick come in a satin finish)…invest in hooks.
4. Functional toilet paper dispenser
The key here is “functional.” How many times have you been caught in a stall with a broken toilet dispenser, and in its place was a charming opened roll of toilet paper that you’d rather not consider who handled it last? Or maybe the dispenser still holds the toilet paper roll, but it’s so tight that you’re in an arm wrestling match just to get more than 1 measly square of TP. Try stocking up a few spindles (like this one from Bobrick) so you have some handy when one breaks.
5. Working bathroom locks
Few things ruin an evening more than being interrupted while you’re in a precarious situation. Give your guests piece of mind by ensuring all stall and bathroom door locks are in working order.
6. Soap Dispensers
I’ll gladly admit I’m one of those who uses a tissue or her sleeve to open the bathroom door—cleanliness is important to me. But nothing is more off-putting than using the restroom only to find a lack of soap afterwards. Ensuring your soap dispensers work (and are topped off with soap) are vital to restroom management, and they come in several styles to choose from: like wall mount dispensers, surface mounted soap dispeners, ones that sit on the counter by the sink, and more. As if a public restroom couldn’t get dirtier, try not having any soap in there for an entire dinner shift. Yuck.
7. Air Fresheners
Sometimes, there’s just no amount of cleaning you can do to make your restaurant’s restroom smell fresh and clean—when that’s the case, stock up on some commercial air fresheners for your space. They’ll discreetly add a pleasant scene to the air, and some are even programmable to regularly spray in 60-minute intervals. Your guests will thank you.
8. Baby changing station
As if the news (and us, to be fair) weren’t harping on the benefits of baby changing stations enough, here’s another shout out for these utilitarian devices. If you’re worried about aesthetics, opt for a baby changing station featuring grey stainless steel veneer. Save yourself from a potential “changing baby on the dining table” disaster and get one of these tables. Stat.
9. Hand dryer or paper towel dispenser
Nobody likes to emerge from the restroom with unsightly water marks on their clothes because the restroom lacked a hand dryer or paper towel dispenser. These handy tools are more a cosmetics than anything else, but your customers will note if your restroom is lacking them. If eco-friendly is important to your restaurant, opt for a hand dryer or set up compostable waist bins for the paper towels.
You’d be amiss to not include a mirror in the restroom. Mirrors seem pretty commonplace, but there are times that single restrooms lack these common necessities that guests will surely notice. Help your guests prevent a potentially embarrassing incident by adding a mirror to your restroom. Bonus points—add a full length mirror in the women’s room—ladies love it. Trust me.
What updates have you made to your restroom to make it a comfortable space for guests?