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    11 Replies Latest reply on Apr 27, 2008 5:54 PM by LUCKIEST

    Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers

    Wingman Adventurer
      Hello Everyone,

      I have a question regarding the use of restrooms by NON-customers.

      We own a restaurant and people seem to think we are a public rest stop where anyone can simply come in and use the restroom, make a mess and leave without purchasing anything.

      People who go to surrounding stores even tell their kids to come use our restrooms instead of the ones located in the store where they are shopping.

      I'm located in California and was wondering if anyone knew or any laws prohibiting me from restricting the use of the restrooms for MY paying customers only? I know I've seen other stores with signs displayed informing people that the restrooms are for customer use only.


        • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
          designer Tracker
          Tough question. Very sensitive issue.

          All I can say is that if I am in the area, on vacation and visiting - - -just passing through and Mother Nature calls....I would so appreciate if your restaurant welcomed me and didn't make a huge issue and fuss about coming in.

          I can see however, if you had to endure this 24/7 and I don't envy you.

          At the very least, you can post a sign in your window - - -No Public Restroom - Customers Use Only.

          It seems your community needs to address this issue - - -as an area that provides shopping and eating establishments for patrons. It should not be your responsibility.
            • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
              Wingman Adventurer

              Hi designer,


              Thanks for your input.


              When people come in and they have little children or ask to use the restroom, we do understand and let them use the restroom.


              My big issue is with people who just make a bee line for the restrooms without even asking. They pretend not to see us or ignore my staff totally like they are entitled to use the facilities. We also get people from the restaurant next door who want to use our restroom becuase their's is busy.

            • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
              MetroGal Adventurer

              Hmmm....good question. I've been to many other cities where I've seen signs restricting the use of the restroom for customers only. This is especially popular around high traffic/tourist areas. Given that your business is private property I would think that it would be okay to post that sign. This is what I would recommend: Contact your city, maybe the zoning department and find out if this is possible. Laws may differ not only by state, but by city, and within city - certain areas (high traffic or tourist areas) may have special exceptions.
              • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                designer Tracker
                I wanted to add one more thing....when I was on vacation in Michigan....there is an area called Saugatuck. It is 6 blocks of shopping and eating. They have a general area with a public restroom facility.....but if you are not near it and are out shopping and can be hard to run back to the mail public restroom.


                Well, this one time, I really had to go to the restroom badly. (I drink lots of water all the time) and this one restuarant I went to was huge and I asked to use the restroom and they flat out told me "no". I was taken back a bit. I had to painfully work my way back a few blocks to the main public restroom.


                Why do I mention this? Because you have to be careful. Because that restaraunt did not want to do me a favor in a real time of need....we won't patronize them now. I know it is silly...but when I needed them, truly, truly....they said no. I would never do that to someone.
                • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                  LUCKIEST Guide
                  Use of Restrooms
                  *Why do **People who go to surrounding stores even tell their kids to come use
                  your restrooms*
                  *instead of the ones located in the store where they are
                  It almost sounds like you are trying for The Loo of the Year Award an award given by an
                  independent association to public facilities in the United Kingdom except you are in California.
                  It is my opinion that all restaurants have to public restrooms.
                  Ask your Lawyer or the local zoning board if you can put a lock on the door.
                  • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                    Lighthouse24 Ranger

                    Tricky issue. On one hand, I totally understand the frustration and added overhead of having to clean up after people who aren't contributing to your revenue. On the other hand, many restaurant owners believe that anyone who ever dines out is a customer -- i.e., there are no NON-customers, only people who didn't purchase food this particular time.

                    Are you certain that people are genuinely using the restroom for its intended purpose? I know, it's a weird question and I don't mean to insult your establishment or location, but it wouldn't be the first time that the restroom of a busy dining establishment in a high traffic retail area turned out to be the known meeting place for various things (the disposition of shoplifted items, drug deals, and worse -- the "perpetrators" know that stores have security measures, and that most restaurants don't). If you suspect this could be the case, be proactive (even to the point of involving the police) before something bad happens that could put you out of business.

                    If all those people really do need the bathroom, it sounds like the symptom of a bigger problem within the immediate area (again, it wouldn't be the first retail area without enough public restrooms where restrooms were needed). Do you lease your space? Perhaps you could discuss the apparent lack of suitable restrooms with the landlord and work out a deal that lets you be accommodating and customer friendly, yet offsets your expenses for the extra cleaning.

                    Bottom line, I'd seek out the root cause of all the visitors and try to deal with that first. Hope that helps. Good luck!
                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                        Lighthouse24 Ranger

                        My attorney just reminded me -- last summer, the employee of a seafood franchise was apparently distributing drugs to nearby schools through teens who picked up the merchandise and left the money in the restaurant's bathroom. Police raided the restaurant and discovered felony amounts stacked neatly in the kitchen cold storage unit behind a bag of frozen hushpuppies. The owner and manager probably didn't have a clue, but are still dealing with the fallout nonetheless.
                      • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                        Bluesuit Adventurer
                        Hello Wingman. This is my guess as to why your restaurant's facilities is so popular. Let me share something that maybe a bit embarrassing, but because it will help you why not. I nearly fell off my seat when I saw this post. Have you ever considered that your restaurant bathroom maybe too clean and too safe?

                        I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I need to go... I can trust a few key establishments. Some of my picks: The trusty Golden Arches - McDonalds. You know you can go, be a bit anonymous (not buy anything), and it is clean and safe. Trader Joe's is another top one (yes they have clean bathrooms). And then, there are one or two other local establishments that I know are clean and "good to go" Sorry buddy, but I think your establishment has been labeled as a clean and safe one.
                          • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                            Lighthouse24 Ranger
                            Yes, the "upside" of the same observation. I hope this is the case, too!
                            • Re: Use of Restrooms by Non-Customers
                              Wingman Adventurer
                              Hi Bluesuit,

                              We try to keep the entire store as clean as possible at all times. I know we have clean and well stocked restrooms and this is intended for the benefit of our paying customers.

                              I'm always reminding my staff the we have to work clean and keep the place looking nice for our customers. Some people will turn around and walk back out the door if a restuarant looks dirty.

                              This also helps when the health inspector makes his surprise visits. The last time the health inspector came in, he commented on how clean everything looked. It took him all of 5 minutes to complete his inspection and sign off on our health permit.