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Jan 28, 2009 12:08 PM

Bathroom Attendants

I am curious how others on Chowhound feel about being confronted by a bathroom attendant in a nice restaurant handing you a towel (with the obvious expectation of a tip).

Personally I find it very irritating for several reasons. First, I know I may be unusual but I do not always take my purse into the bathroom. While I do not like being coerced into tipping an attendant for doing something I would much rather do myself (such as getting a towel) I also do not like not giving the attendant anything. Therefore it becomes an awkward situation for me. (Though I usually compensate by returning to the bathroom later so I can tip).

Second I just find it so unnecessary. I suppose I can understand that in a 5 star restaurant some may expect the continual pampering. However, I have experienced the unexpected bathroom attendants in nice, but definitely not 5 star establishments. I just don't see any reason for it unless the restaurant has no other place to put an employee.

Third, it is becoming more of a special treat for many of us who love to eat out but cannot afford to because of the economy. At least for myself, I would be less likely to return to a restaurant knowing I would have to tip an attendant in the bathroom. (I know- are a few bucks really worth crossing off a good restaurant off my list? Probably not. But it is a huge turn-off.)

Just as a side note, the one time I did feel the opposite was at a drag-queen restaurant in manhattan a few years ago- there was a drag queen bathroom attendant in the ladies room! :} (That was worth a big tip! :} )

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  1. Agree 100%. Irritating is a good word for it!

    1. Nope, you're not unusual. I find it irritating, too. And if I don't take my purse into the bathroom, I just smile apologetically, and say, "sorry, I left my purse at the table."

      1. It's not just at nice restaurants anymore. I went to a concert at Sullivan Hall in NYC to see a band i know from back home. Now Sullivan Hall is not high end at all, a bar with a stage, but yet the bathrooms had someone inside handing you a "towel" or should I say a piece of paper from the dispenser. I found this to be rather insulting of my abilities to dry my own hands in a bar. Needless to say he got no tip from me.

        8 Replies
        1. re: roro1831

          You sure he was an employee and not just someone out for a quick buck?

          1. re: PeterL

            Yep, all bathrooms had attendants

          2. re: roro1831

            And yet that attendant may very well have been part of an overall plan to keep the bathroom cleaner and less of a zone for illegal activity. Surely both reasons to be insulted. (not).

            1. re: karmalaw

              Highly unlikely as the bathroom wasn't exactly nice to begin with and I could care less about illegal activities in bathrooms. The attendant was doing such a great job, like stopping women from using the mens room.
              I just have a problem when people are basically doing nothing, and expect you to tip them for it. It's not like they have a toilet paper menu and the attendant is helping me choose based on my needs.

              1. re: karmalaw

                Great, now that I know the attendants are actually *security guards* that the establishment needs to keep the peace, I feel even less obligated to tip!

              2. re: roro1831

                I saw this once in upstate NY at the dutchess county fair. They had kids sitting next to the paper towel dispenser snagging paper towels for people.

                1. re: roro1831

                  I've played a couple of gigs at Sullivan Hall and it really bugs me. I tip him anyway because it seems like such a lousy job, but I'd really rather there wasn't one at all.

                  Bathroom attendants at really high-end restaurants make me uncomfortable; ones at regular places just annoy me.

                2. To the extent the presence of BAs prevent the room from becoming a pig sty, keep it stocked, and discourage activities that don't belong in that room (smoking, snorting, screwing, for example), I'd say some places could use them...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Karl S

                    If it were a matter of cleanliness, making sure people don't linger too long if the wait is ridiculously long (such as at broadway shows) I really wouldn't mind; I'd be appreciative. It's only when there is no obvious or apparent reason for an attendant that drives me a bit bonkers. Also, I guess it's because the bathroom is usually a personal place and I like my space, if even only for a minute.

                  2. They irritate me too. If they really want to make some money, they should take all their little toiletries and such and go to dance clubs. When I was in my 20s, had a few drinks in me and was all sweaty and took a bathroom break, I would have paid for a spritz of perfume or hair spray or a towel or deodorant or whatever, and I would have been more likely to tip them. In restaurants? Irritating. In lower-end restaurants where they are literally handing you a tri-folded paper towel? Ridiculous.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      Recently went to Eiffel Tower restaurant in Paris Las Vegas and there was an attendant. My first encounter with one. The bathroom was so small. He was never more than four feet from me. I prefer a little privacy. Very uncomfortable. Kinda creepy. Still good for a laugh back at the table! Food was great and it was snowing with the Bellagio fountain in the background. So, it was a small inconvenience.

                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        If memory serves, there was an attendant at Studio 54 with lipsticks, comb, etc.