I spent a long time in the restaurant business owning and managing restaurants. One thing that I definitely learned over the 30-something years is a dirty, unappealing restroom is the quickest way to lose a customer.
Once I had a restaurant out near Six Flags in Eureka, Mo. It was so busy there in the summertime that often there was a line to the restroom that stretched all the way through the dining room. The only way that we could get in there to clean it was to shut it down and that didn’t go over very well with the people waiting in line either. And if you were an employee, sometimes you had to go out behind the dumpster and use a cup.
When you get so used to cleaning bathrooms you notice the good and the bad about the ones that you use when you’re not working. I remember one experience when I was traveling on the road. It was a filling station restroom that probably hadn’t been cleaned in years. I had tacos for lunch and I really had to go.
As soon as I went in I noticed that it smelled really bad. The floor was covered in urine and the toilet paper holder was missing. The sink looked just like a mechanic had just washed his greasy hands in it and the walls were covered with graffiti. Someone had left a present in the commode and it wouldn’t flush. When I sat down I felt a splash. I had to use it but it was one of the most disgusting experiences in my life.
Some restrooms around town are not only clean, but beautiful and interesting as well. The woman’s restroom at the Fox Theater in St. Louis has it’s own first aid station. Back in the twenties ladies who went to the theater would sometimes faint and they could be revived there. The men’s room has a fireplace and a lounge. The restroom at the Venice cafe’ has a waterfall and is covered with a mosaic of broken glass. It is truly an art piece.
But the restroom at the Fountain restaurant in St. Louis has been voted the best bathroom in the country by Cintas, a linen and bathroom supply company. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch: “The self-proclaimed most-photographed restaurant in St. Louis is about to get some more gawkers after its bathroom on Wednesday was named the best in the United States. The Fountain on Locust won this year’s America’s Best Restroom contest.”
The Fountain’s owner said that it goes to show that a small, low-budget restroom can beat out larger places with lots of money and professional architects in bigger towns. The restroom features “Hand-painted murals, ornate fixtures and designer mirrors.”