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Feb 24, 2013 12:20 PM

Restaurant Lost Running Water & Stayed Open

Fellow Hounds, I just came back from brunch at a slightly upscale restaurant. It's a destination place for most locals, located in a purely residential area about 20 minutes "out of town". In other words, there was one available public sink & toilet for customers and staff.

One of my party returned to the table perplexed that she couldn't get the faucets to work in the bathroom. Once asked, our server looked mortified and reluctantly admitted that the water had just stopped working and that staff was out back working on it.

The restaurant kept seating people. I sat there uncomfortably. Between needing to use the ladies and the thought of unwashed hands...

By the end of our very leisurely meal - just under 2 hours later - I went to investigate again. The bathroom was still labelled out of order but another patron was in there experimentally flushing the toilet. The two (!) servers at the counter both couldn't tell me if the water was back on and had to ask other staff. It had just come back on.

I'm tempted to write the restaurant and just give them some feedback about how this was handled. How they handled this really undermined my confidence about the hygiene standards of the place. My town is already hurting for decent restaurants. I do want them to stick around.

What do you think?

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  1. Doubt I'd return. I'd also call the Health Dept.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Leonardo

      +1. I certainly would not want those servers handling my food!!!

      1. re: Leonardo

        I think the time to call the Health Dept was when you first learned of the water issue. At this point, after the fact, what are they going to do?

        If I cared about the restaurant, I'd contact the manager, let her/him know of your concern, and listen for a plausible explanation/back up plan.

      2. As long as they can heat water via a stove or microwave, the staff can wash their hands

        2 Replies
        1. re: treb

          Yes, but did they do that? And what about customers' hands?

          1. re: Leonardo

            Oops- this is a reply to treb:

            They lost water. Full stop. Did they have two hours worth of clean water tucked away in the kitchen for hand and dish washing? Unlikely. And nobody, staff nor customs, could use the bathroom.

        2. I've always been a believer in the notion that people are overly germ-o-phobic these days; however I also think that not having any form of running water for sanitation for staff when food is being prepared is a BIG no no.

          If you really love this place and don't want to see them go, perhaps a letter or a personal visit to let them see the egregiousness of that situation will put the message across- better they get it from you than the health inspectors if they want to stay in business! Restaurants should be aware of the fact that customers aren't blind to this sort of thing.

          1. I would not be overly fussed about the toilet being out of action (although, at my age, the availablity of toilets is more of a priority than when I was younger, if you get my drift).

            I would, however, be fussed that the kitchen had no running water for staff hygiene purposes. I guess the restaurant made its decision about whether closing for the evening and pissing off diners was worse for their business reputation than staying open. I thought they probably made the wrong call.

            1. That is disgusting. Definitely would let the health department know.