Can You Judge a Restaurant by its Toilet?

I think you can, and you should. Attention to detail is a trait you’d like to have clearly in evidence at any eating establishment. Evidence that employees who care have recently used the facilities (including the hand washing) is reassuring and also part of how a restaurant can be judged. If the staff are ignoring trash and dirt and broken down plumbing in the bathroom, then they probably don’t care in other areas as well.

There should be hot water. The toilet has to flush. An overflowing trash can is a turnoff, as well as weird patched together piping and dirty areas.

Part of it is esthetics – the restroom is often the last place a patron will visit, and the state of the bathroom will be that last impression to take with them. A warm, interesting, comfortable, clean and even elegant bathroom means that someone is more likely to walk out the door feeling fully nourished.

The response to my reporting a malfunctioning toilet or other problem is also telling. The hostess or other employee agreeing that there is a problem and has been for a while is not at all reassuring. It is actually pretty distressing. Why hasn’t it been fixed, or labeled out of order? Especially if I just had to struggle with what someone else left, or panicking over a toilet about to overflow, or concern when repeated flushing isn’t working. If you knew that would happen why did you just make me confront it?

I’ve had to deal with clogged toilets, overflowing toilets, poorly flushing toilets, toilets where the chain is disconnected so the handle is floppy, gross toilets, wetness around toilets, and more all in the context of trying to enjoy some good food. I don’t want to go back to those restaurants, and I also tend to let other people know that the sanitary standards at that place are questionable, or assume they have poor plumbing which means my health is at risk.

And thanks to those restaurants who have made their bathrooms lovely. It matters.

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