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Restaurant Restroom Updates


© iStockPhoto

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.

Image Courtesy of TripAdvisor

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

Bobrick - 273-103 - Spindle

Bobrick – 273-103 – Spindle

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

Koala - KB200-01SS - Grey SS Veneer Horizontal Baby Changing Station

Koala – KB200-01SS – Grey SS Veneer Horizontal 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.

10. Mirrors

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?

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Dirty Restaurant Restrooms Say Dirty Kitchen To Many Customers

Bad Restaurant Bathroom

88% of people said they thought a dirty restroom reflected poorly on the entire restaurant’s cleanliness.

A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that 88% of people who encounter a dirty restroom at a restaurant think this reflects poorly on the sanitation of the rest of the establishment, including the kitchen and food preparation areas.  Of those, a full 29% said they would never come back to a restaurant whose restroom they found to be very dirty.

In many ways the restrooms in your restaurant provide the public a window into the overall management and cleanliness of your establishment, at least from their perspective.  Think about it.  How many times have you walked into someone else’s bathroom and taken a quick look around to get a better feel for what that person is like?  The same goes for customers in your restaurant.  Impressing your customers with your restrooms takes some time and investment, but when you stand to lose 30% of your customers because of your bathrooms, it’s an investment you can’t afford to avoid.

The first, and most critical element, is to make sure the bathrooms you have are always clean, fresh, and well supplied. Your servers probably won’t appreciate this, but designate someone’s side work every day to making sure the restrooms are clean.  Draw up some guidelines to make sure everything gets cleaned properly, and take the time for some quality control.  And at least once a week, have a professional janitorial service do a top-to-bottom cleaning of your restrooms.

Of course, old, broken, and dingy equipment in your restaurant restroom is going to look bad, no matter how much it’s cleaned.  It probably pains you to do so, but it’s vitally important to budget some money to invest in new equipment and hardware for your restroom.

Clean RestroomSome examples:

Hand dryers and paper towel dispensers. Nothing is as frustrating as sitting there with freshly washed hands trying to deal with a dispenser that doesn’t work.  If you are looking to replace your dispenser, seriously consider getting a hand dryer.  The up-front cost is more, but over the lifetime of the dryer, the savings on paper towels, not to mention the amount of paper waste you’ll reduce, will recoup your initial investment.

Toilet tissue dispensers. Again, having a functional dispenser is key to a good customer experience in your restroom.  Also make sure your cleaning guidelines include refilling these dispensers on a regular basis.

Baby changing stations. These are becoming more and more common in both men’s and women’s restrooms.  If you haven’t yet invested in baby changing stations in your restrooms, you should seriously consider it.  Being family friendly is great PR for your restaurant, and accommodating the needs of young families will breed customer loyalty.

Air fresheners. You could implement a strict cleaning regimen, invest in all new dispensers and other restroom hardware, and still watch your customers come out of your restrooms disgusted if it smells like a sewer in there.  I personally was in a restaurant restroom not too long ago where everything was tidy and neat but the smell was so overpowering in there I vowed never to return to that particular establishment (of course, slow service, an overpriced menu, and so-so food didn’t help either).

Partition hardware. The stalls in your restroom are going to break down over time.  Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to repair common things like door latches and locks, grab bars, door hinges, and brackets without having to rebuild everything.

Restroom faucets. Nice, new looking faucets can go a long way towards making your customer feel clean and ready to eat when they leave the restroom.  Installing new faucets isn’t too expensive and will add an extra shine to your whole restroom.

The best part about remodeling your restroom is that most of this hardware is relatively easy to install yourself, and taking the time to do so can really improve your restaurant’s image, especially with first time customers.

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