HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Women sent $5.00 bill/note for using restaurant bathroom

  • h

http://www.today.com/video/today/5098...

What's your take? Even Bobby Flay weighs in.
Funny still the restaurant is called The Flood Zone.

How would you handle such a situation? Haven't we all made a similar pit stop? How about having your lic plate sent to the police over this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. The woman asked for and received permission to use the bathroom. For the restaurant to subsequently try to shame her for it by tracking her down and sending her a bill - and then refusing to take her money! - is terrible. I also think someone ought to keep an eye on that sheriff, who doesn't seem to know the difference between enforcing the law and enabling stalking.

    24 Replies
    1. re: small h

      Didn't the narrator say the owners confronted her, after she came out of the restroom, and she left without talking to them?
      Couldn't it all have been avoided with just a quick conversation?
      The whole thing seems ridiculous.

      1. re: latindancer

        I just watched the clip again. She was initially told it was ok, and then after she exited the bathroom, she was told it was not ok. She didn't speak to the owner at all on her initial visit.

        I agree that the whole thing seems ridiculous.

        1. re: small h

          "ok" doesn't always mean "free."

          if the woman had said "can i have a cup of coffee?"
          and the server said,
          "ok"
          i suspect nobody on this board would be thinking that "ok" meant "free"

          1. re: westsidegal

            With logic like that you'll wind up tipping someone for saying thank you.

            1. re: westsidegal

              If I walked into a bar or restaurant and asked if I could use the bathroom, I would absolutely expect that "ok" meant "free." Have you actually exchanged cash for potty privileges? Do share, as I'd like to put the establishment on my "avoid" list.

              1. re: small h

                many public toilets in NYC require coins to use them.
                true, this is not seen much in bars or restaurants, (although many bars and restaurants in NYC will restrict their restrooms to CUSTOMERS ONLY and will mean it).
                my point was that the "ok" was deemed to mean "free" only because of context (i.e. in a restaurant in tennessee).

                even in california i've encountered restaurants that require either a token that you can get free from the cashier after paying, or a coin.
                i've also seen this set up in retail stores.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  <many public toilets in NYC require coins to use them.>

                  It must be many years since you've visited New York. I've lived in Manhattan since 1983, and I've never seen a pay toilet, unless you count the public restrooms out on Coney Island or Orchard Beach that have coin cups for the cleaning staff. Or the matrons in clubs who expect tips in exchange for a spritz of Aquanet. And although it's very rare that I go into a bar or restaurant solely to use the bathroom (that's what Barnes & Noble is for), I've never been refused.

                  1. re: small h

                    saw many of them the last time i was there
                    (2005 or so).
                    the more "touristy" the area, the more likely the coin machines.
                    there were none to be found, however, on the upper east side. . . .

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Please tell me where you saw coin-operated stalls in New York City in the last decade. They've been illegal since 1975, and if someone is secretly operating one now, I'd like to report it. An exemption was granted for stand-alone street furniture restrooms in 1993, and a couple of those finally opened in 2008. I think they're gone now, though.

                      http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/200...

                      http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-new...

                      1. re: small h

                        it was in the Times Square area.
                        about 7 years ago or so.
                        more than a couple.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          I ask because I have (very hazy) recollections of ten cent coin op toilets, possibly in Penn Station or environs, from when I was a kid. But not since then. Those fancy self-cleaning comfort stations made headlines when they were first installed, but I don't recall ever actually seeing one, and I'm in Times Square at least once a month. But! The point is, there are beaucoup places to relieve oneself in New York, free for nothing, no questions asked. Any store of a decent size has a bathroom, as do all the libraries and museums and many of the parks. You'd be hard-pressed to find yourself more than a five minute walk away.

                  2. re: westsidegal

                    I am not sure if pay toilets are actually illegal in California, but there was a movement to ban them a number of years ago, led by then Assemblywoman March Fong Eu (she was subsequently Secretary of State in CA)on the grounds that they discriminated against women (even in restrooms with pay toilets, typically they were only for the stalls, not for the urinals). I haven't seen one in a business in years (in the U.S.).

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      this is OT, but as much as a carnival sideshow SF elections can be some years, somehow some pretty cool people get elected. (she did start off in City gov't IIRC, right?)

                      1. re: hill food

                        not in SF. no. She worked at UCSF for awhile, but her first public office was State Assembly where she represented my home town, Oakland and Castro Valley. She was the first Asian American in that body and first to hold statewide office. Born in the Central Valley (Oakdale). I always admired her; her fight against pay toilets was one reason (hate them!) though it doesn't tend to get highlighted in her biographies...: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_Fo...

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          oh ok, greater Bay Area, I knew I recognized her name.

                          so take THAT all those who paint CA as the land fruits and nuts. I am sadly no longer a resident, but I like to think of the place as welcoming to all. and fruits and nuts are important to a healthy diet. (smirk)

                          1. re: hill food

                            yes, and by the way, one small correction to edit: first Asian American woman in those positions.....

                    2. re: westsidegal

                      I thought pay toilets are illegal in California, courtesy of our fame secretary of state March Fong Yu.

                      Oops I see someone beats me to Ms. Yu.

                      1. re: PeterL

                        haven't seen pay toilets in CA, but i have seen toilets that required a token which one needed to obtain from the cashier in CA
                        (i have lived shuttling back and forth between the coasts)

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        I believe CA restaurants are now required to allow public access to their facilities. Our favorite diner in Ventura has a token system, and they used to hand them to customers. Now they just have a basket of them out on the counter.

                      3. re: small h

                        Europe.
                        Asia.

                        Pay to pee.
                        You realllllllllllllllllllllllllly don't want to go in the places that don't have an attendant.

                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                          Or....

                          My favorite...

                          A hole in the ground, surrounded by concrete with a little bucket to wash the remains away.

                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                            I don't remember any places in Europe (never been to Asia) where use of the toilet itself cost money, although toilet paper was emphatically not free in Prague & East Berlin in 1989. I quickly learned to travel with my own supplies, and I still do, because you never know.

                            1. re: small h

                              First trip to India, I had my own t.p. stash, as well as seat covers. Never got to use the seat covers, 'cause there were no seats to cover! Things have changed, at least in modern buildings, but older places still have the holes in the ground. No t.p., but the ubiqitous bucket of suspect water for left-hand "sanitation."

                              1. re: pine time

                                Same scenario with my assignments in parts of Haiti.

                2. Seems like the show is scrambling, with very low ratings, to come up with stories that aren't even the least bit noteworthy.

                  I'm not buying Bobby Flay's across the board, no-questions-asked 'generosity'.
                  So he's saying 100 people, needing a pit-stop, can just saunter into his restaurant(s), without paying, and use his washroom(s). Uh huh.

                  1. Bobby Flay said he usually buys a soft drink. That's what I do.

                    1. I can't imagine calling in her license plate in order to get her address. I can't imagine sending a letter after the fact. And I can't imagine writing in the note that they would charge $5.00 for use of the washroom but later in the piece were quoted as saying it wasn't about the money. I can't believe a law man would waste his time and I'd love know why the woman called the news to report this incident to the press. Would you want to be on television for this?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        two petty people with nothing else to do.
                        apparently the police don't have any other, higher, priorities either.
                        in my town, when there is a car crash, police don't come unless someone is hurt. an injury-free car crash is not considered a good use of police resources.
                        clearly that's not how the police in tennessee operate. . . .

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          The police sure as hell come to the scene of an injury-free crash in my town. That's part of their job, I pay a boatload of taxes for our police force and since there isn't a whole lot of crime in my area, the only other activity that keeps them occupied is writing traffic tickets. I was recently hit by someone and if it hadn't been for the police report, and the careless driving ticket issued to the other driver, I would have been found at least 50% at fault and my insurance rates would have gone up. It's not a minor matter to me. (I know this to be true because in spite of the ticket & the police report placing all the blame on the other driver, we had the same insurance co. & they tried to stick me with 50% of the blame. I had to appeal it.)

                          1. re: flourgirl

                            Same here. Around these parts, you'll likely face criminal charges if you don't contact the police following a car crash that causes any damage. I doubt the police department would get involved in the bathroom fee situation though.

                            1. re: mpjmph

                              "I doubt the police department would get involved in the bathroom fee situation though."

                              Here either, nor would I expect them to. :)

                              1. re: mpjmph

                                without an injury, the most that one could expect in my neighborhood is for someone from the parking enforcement section to drive by to make sure that the damaged cars get cleared from the street.
                                the insurance companies make their own determination.
                                even when i've witnessed a crash and left my name so that i could be contacted, no insurance company has ever called me.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  That's too bad for you. Because insurance companies make decisions that are in THEIR best interests, not yours. Like I said, I would have been screwed when I got hit by that bimbo without the police report etc. because she tried to fight it, even though she ran right into me and there wasn't a single thing I could do to avoid her. Yes, insurance co. make their decisions but they have to base those decisions on the evidence. In my case, they tried to ignore the evidence, but I appealed and won, and it was absolutely the support of the police officer who came to the scene who was a big deciding factor in that victory.

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    i've been fortunate.
                                    in the last fifteen years i've been involved in 3 accidents.
                                    in every single one of those cases my insurance company has decided that i was not at fault.

                                    maybe i just got lucky in terms of adjusters, or maybe the insurance company policies at the time the accidents occurred were more fair. not saying that they would be fair if the accident were to happen today.

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      I think in my case, the big problem was 1) that both of us were represented by the same company and 2) the kid who was representing me sounded like he wasn't even old enough to shave yet, he had no idea what he was talking about and he wasn't willing to fight for me even though I spoon fed him my case. I made it clear during my appeal how horrible he was and that I would never work with him again.

                                      What helped me was that I hadn't been in an accident in over 23 yrs, and yes, the police report, and the ticket the other driver received.

                                      And the bottom line is, in most cases here in NJ, if an officer isn't called to the scene, your insurance company is going to be VERY unhappy with you, especially if the other driver was at fault (AND they have a different insurance company.)

                          2. re: HillJ

                            Ugh, I agree. I can't imagine that any of the energy wasted creating, enabling or reporting this silly story is well spent.

                            1. re: ItalianNana

                              unless you are part of the "local" media.
                              much cheaper to "cover" this event than, let's say, actual reporting of something important.

                          3. I'm too lazy to watch the video on my phone but I can't help to ask; Was it mentioned if there was a tiered pricing system for the use of the restroom?
                            Hand rinse .........$.75
                            Hand wash .........$1.00
                            #1 .......................$2.50
                            #2 .......................$5.00
                            Additional flushes$ .99

                            1. Bathroom was for customers only and it was posted that it's a $5 fee for non paying customers. So the woman was wrong for not purchasing anything or not paying the fee. Sounds far. The owner made the mistake of not asking the woman to order before using the bathroom or by not asking for the $5 when she didn't.

                              But taking the license plate # and calling the cops was overreacting.

                              If the $5 fee was that important, the owner should put a lock on the door and make patrons ask for a key.

                              But at the end of the day, all three acted foolishly and look dumb.

                              21 Replies
                              1. re: viperlush

                                I've been in restrooms that required a key and I've been in public toilets that required a slug or coin to use them. In both cases each "rule" required an attendant.

                                While there was a small, handwritten sign taped to the mirror inside the restroom of this restaurant, it would have been far more helpful if the sign was posted on the outside door.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  A small sign INSIDE the bathroom? That's torture. Usually if you have to go badly enough to ask in a restaurant, it's getting fairly desperate, and to actually let you IN the washroom then tell you you can't use it... well, it's too late, really! That's if you even stop to look at the mirror (oh I'll just check my makeup on my way to the desperately needed toilet... sure!).
                                  Ideally of course one does not get so desperate, but for pregnant women, young kids, seniors...

                                  1. re: julesrules

                                    Except that using the sink, a paper towel or air jet is also typical once you've used the facility. I'm use to seeing an employee sign on the mirror reminding staff to use the sink....so, a sign about the $5.00 fee on the mirror may have been a no brainer for the restaurant owner. I'll be a diplomat here. BUT-a sign for customers on the outside door about a $5.00 charge or "order something if you want to use our restrooms" would have been logical too. Moreover, I think it's pretty clear that the restaurant owner was trying to discourage drive byes from just using their restrooms altogether.

                                    Would I have charged a potential customer after the fact by letter-NO NO NO. And, the negative press on local television now picked up by every news outlet alone would have been reason enough for me to rethink placing a stamp on said letter.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Yes AFTER I pee, I typically look in the mirror while washing my hands. And staff need to be reminded to wash their hands AFTER using the toilet. But, especially if in a rush, I don't typically look in the mirror on my way TO the toilet.

                                      1. re: julesrules

                                        Oh I agree (on the point of after) as well. But a restroom sink is usually below the mirror and the mirror is where their handwritten sign was located. I still feel a sign on the door or a key to the restroom would give greater understanding to the restaurant policy. After all, that's what this entire drama is over, a restaurant owner enforcing restaurant policy.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Absolutely true.

                                          It's not uncommon, when asking to use the restroom of an establishment, to be directed to a *public* facility.
                                          If you're not intending to purchase then you don't get to use.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            A restaurant is (almost always) a private business, but it is also a public accomodation.

                                            I know there can be problems with people who are disgusting slobs, or worse, drug fiends, but I do think restaurants should be understanding within reason of people who really need to pee. This becomes more of an issue as one gets older!

                                            The problem is, in many places there are no public facilities. In my city, and ones I often travel to, I get to know them by heart!

                                            1. re: lagatta

                                              <becomes more of an issue as one gets older!>

                                              Really? I don't know of anyone, young or 'older', who as you say, "really needs to pee" so bad they must insist on using a private business's washroom.
                                              I suppose it happens but I wouldn't consider a private business a 'public accommodation' for anyone, no matter who they are.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                " I don't know of anyone, young or 'older', who as you say, "really needs to pee" so bad they must insist on using a private business's washroom."

                                                You and your acquaintances are lucky, or they're too embarrassed to share. Lack of good bladder control is not uncommon as you get older, especially among women who've had multiple children. I don't think of a private business as a "public accommodation" but would hope, as human beings, they might show compassion. I've worked with seniors and it is humiliating for them to lose control in public. And, it comes on suddenly.

                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                  You must know all healthy people under 40, then. Lots of people, especially middle-aged women who have borne children, and older men with prostate issues, do have some urgency at times. And of course there are those with digestive problems, such as IBS or Crohn's disease, who don't get much warning.

                                                  I think restaurants should approach this issue with humanity. They might get some abusers, but usually you can tell if someone really is desperate.

                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                    The thing is most people ask because they really need to use the facilities. I can't imagine it being common that someone asks to use a public facility unless they need it. I avoid them if at all possible.

                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                      <You must know all healthy people under 40>

                                                      I know lots of people who aren't all under 40 and healthy, including me.
                                                      Private businesses and their washrooms are *theirs*...it's their decision whether or not they want to make them public. They're under no obligation to allow a woman or man who has health issues that preclude them from holding it until they a place that allows them to use it.
                                                      I suppose if I had any of those issues you list, which I don't, I'd make sure, before I left the house, I wasn't putting myself in a position where I'd be dependent on facilities that might not like me 'begging' to use their washroom.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        I'm on a high fiber diet, over 40, and try to take care of business before I leave the house, but the urge can be urgent. If I use public facilities I always buy something.

                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                          You're lucky you don't have to deal with what others have. You're right, there is no law to be kind or caring and thankfully the people in Boston don't feel that way. Humanity lives for most. I haven't had to deal with bathroom issues but the people I know who have (despite planning ahead, other than remaining recluse in the senior homes) have met very kind people and some who have been wiling to open their private homes to them. In fact, I don't recall any situation where someone has denied their "begging."

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Oh dear, chowser.

                                                            I've never been anywhere, in the world, where people aren't kind and caring and concerned about other human beings. It's just part of our human nature to worry and take care of.
                                                            Sorry you chose to take it that far in this time.
                                                            You're right. I'm lucky but that doesn't make me less caring.

                                                            I

                                      2. re: viperlush

                                        <<But at the end of the day, all three acted foolishly and look dumb.>>

                                        absolutely.

                                        if i went into an LAPD station and asked them to trace a license plate because someone "stole" a trip to the restroom at a business that i owned (a trip that i had valued at $5 no less), i'd surely be ushered to the door.

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          wsgal - absolutely. once, a $50 birthday check was sent to a wrong address in SF, forged and cashed, and the cops (almost) laughed at me for bothering. (I only pursued the issue as the giver was affronted and kept asking) the officer pretty much told me I was wasting my time and I concurred considering the lost wages involved on my end. I should have just lied and told my aunt I blew it on cheap shoes or beer.

                                          all the staff had to say was "I'm sorry our restrooms are for customers only, would you like to order a soft drink?"

                                          to pursue this over an arbitrary slight of $5 is just asinine.

                                          1. re: hill food

                                            <and the cops(almost laughed at me for bothering.>

                                            It depends on the city and neighborhood, of course. The setting for the neighborhood in the video looks very much like a town where the response time is quick and a person's or business's complaint is taken care of without hesitation & no questions asked.
                                            In S Cal, where I live, it's not uncommon.

                                            1. re: hill food

                                              Just out of curiosity which would it have been the shoes or beer?

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                good question, I walked a lot back then, so sturdy shoes were always an on-going issue, whereas beer was more pressing and immediate...

                                        2. Oh and my thoughts on Bobby Flay weighing in run the gamut. From why ask a very familiar celebrity chef about bathroom etiquette ... let alone that he had a reply....to his answer not at all applying in the same context as the owners of The Flood Zone.

                                          Mr. Flay, with all due respect....don't be so available!

                                          1. The last thing I'd do if I had to use the toilet would be order a coffee or other drink...

                                            Do they want people peeing on their floor, or in the street?

                                            1. I hope McDonald's doesn't copycat this idea.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                actually there was an issue maybe 20 years back somewhere along an interstate (44 or 70?) when someone intending to order something made the mistake of using the bathroom first and that particular McD's franchise prosecuted.

                                                they changed their policy after that.

                                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                  If I need a restroom I go to a (good) gas station, or a fast food place. And I usually buy a soda or small snack on the way out because I think it's rude to go in and use their facilities without even buying anything... if I don't want to buy food or drink, I'll go to a supermarket.

                                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                                    How is a supermarket different from a gas station or fast food place?

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      When you gotta go, you gotta go. Besides, having the luxury to pick where you pull over for a restroom along a strip of highway isn't always easy or ideal...

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        If it's urgent, I'll pick a small store where the restrooms are easier to find. I've wandered a large grocery store w/ a toddler and it's hard finding them tucked away back sometimes and hard to find someone to ask.

                                                        I was just wondering why it's different going to a grocery store if you don't want to buy something, vs having to buy something in a fast food place.

                                                2. Since when do folk begin to assume that the use of a bathroom is part of their fare?

                                                  I mean, there is toilet paper (there WAS toilet paper, right?), hand soap, towels (there WERE towels, right?), and maybe an attendant to gauge the temp of the water in the sink. Who expects this to be free, or included in the price of a first-class meal?

                                                  Hunt

                                                  16 Replies
                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      That's why I always buy something, at least an iced tea to go.

                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                        If I bought an ice tea in order to use the restroom without charge...that would wind up causing me another restroom stop about an hour later.....so is this some kind of collective money maker for highway diners and rest stop cafes...I'm beginning to think so!!

                                                        ...let's get those folks with the weak bladders a run for their money--CHARGE EM!

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          I, have a strong bladder, but I'm getting older, so who knows how long this this luxury will last, everything else is breaking. I have a team of specialists keeping me above water.

                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                            Strange but true: my bladder has been giving me absolute FITS the past few years and it was getting to the point that it was really affecting my life.

                                                            Than I broke my ankle in September - and ever since than, it hasn't been nearly the problem it was before. I have no idea why, (someone told me that breaking my ankle may have "reset" things in my system, I have no idea if that's true or not" but OH, what a friggin' relief it is to get my life back.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              Interesting theory. Maybe since I ruptured my Achilles tendon fifteen months ago has kept the bladder in shape.

                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                Two winters ago, I took a flying leap on an icy patch and fell right on my back bone. Stunned me good, left a bruise across my keister for quite awhile but it knocked the sciatica pain in my left calf right out. I haven't experienced sciatica since!

                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                            An old job kept me on the road most of the day. I used to buy a small drink at a fast food place, just so I could use the restroom, but it's a cycle, obviously.

                                                            So, finally (duh) figured out that grocery stores have bathrooms, too. At first, I didn't buy anything, just use the restroom. Then started buying an apple or yogurt for lunch. Decided that was fair for them and took care of my needs.

                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                              Was a time I knew every rest stop along the NY Thruway.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                I had a sales job awhile back and I think I peed under every river bridge in southeast Texas. For serious business, the Hotel Galvez, an old beauty on the Gulf in Galveston, had a dozen or so sparkling stalls. I'd walk in like I owned the place, take care of things, and return for the great happy hour buffet after work. Shrimp, prime rib, Gulf view, please.

                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                  Ah...the memories, right JC! Happy hour buffets on the road....takes me back...slice of life!

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Your darn tootin'. By the way, what is this ice you speak of. I get excited to this day seeing a thin layer on a small puddle, dating back to my childhood.

                                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                      Oh my...typical HillJ day.. I thought I'd brave the ice storm and salt/sand our walkway. Didn't get any farther than the 2nd step on our porch landing before I was seeing stars and laying face up on said walkway. My shoe must have slid that quick. I was knocked out for a split second, lost my breath, laid there a few mins and then slowly stood up. Within 30 mins I had a tattoo for a backside and sat on ice packs for hours which led to a few weeks of healing before I was back to my mobile self. I was darn lucky I didn't break something. But while I was healing, standing at the kitchen sink one night cleaning vegetables I realized by calf was no longer throbbing....the pesky sciatica that would flair from time to time was gone. And, it's been inactive ever since.

                                                                      Now when there is ice on our walkway I leave it to the experts.

                                                                  2. re: James Cristinian

                                                                    James C. - major hotels are indeed the best for public restrooms. and the best towels.

                                                                    DC has free museums all over for this. (gotta go through the security line, but it's quicker and easier than TSA...)

                                                            2. re: James Cristinian

                                                              When I worked at McD's in high school, it was such a relief when people stopped to use the restroom but didn't buy anything and add to an already too busy work day. I still do buy something but remember how thankful I used to be.

                                                            3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              Good point, Bill Hunt.

                                                              When you put it that way, everyone *should* be paying for a trip to the loo.
                                                              Not sure, based on your logic, *who* feels entitled to the freebie.

                                                            4. I don't understand why the restaurant even sent the payment letter when they wouldn't accept the payment. And, why didn't the server tell her "no" when she asked? I often see signs on the door that restrooms are for customers. It seems like the best solution. This isn't a high end restaurant and people would probably not bat an eye to see it.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                I have to agree. And truly it seems like a lot of bother by the restaurant. Of course, I am sympathetic to those who must dash in to a restaurant to pee...I have a weak bladder and often am confronted with the need to go. My friends joke that I know every nice restroom on the west coast:-) And there is some truth to that...I never forget a good restroom. In fact, I still could tell you the security code of the restroom in a certain hospital in Paris near Notre Dame Cathedral:-) (There is a code because its only supposed to be for patients and visitors, but I sweet-talked a guard out of the code one day...and used it successfully on a subsequent trip to Paris some five years later!) That being said, I really don't like using restrooms in restaurants without paying. I just feel guilty. I do use the supermarket trick (restrooms are towards the back, and people don't notice as much if you use it and don't buy anything). More commonly, however, I just duck into McDonald's and buy a coffee......

                                                                1. re: janetofreno

                                                                  Well, usually if I "go" in a supermarket loo, I DO buy something. More than one thing, usually. But not caught in the vicious coffee-buying/peeing cycle! And I almost never eat between meals.

                                                              2. It's entirely too bad that a polite request isn't met with a polite accommodation. A few months ago, I took a long walk after an early breakfast and found myself in need of facilities. The counter guy at an empty cafe told me I could proceed if I bought something. Okay, fine. Told me I couldn't leave my bagged pastry on his counter for a minute because he was too busy to watch it. Okay, fine. Fucker. Sandwich in a bathroom! Meanwhile, at home, if you ask me for a few Meyers off the tree in front, you'll get the loan of a pair of snips. If you don't ask, look out!

                                                                1. The restaurant handled this poorly from the get go.

                                                                  1) The waitress could have mentioned that the bathrooms are for paying customers.

                                                                  2) The restaurant used police resources to track down the "offenders" address. Also, the officer gave out the address to the restaurant owner.

                                                                  3) The owner sent a letter. He could have let it go and trained his staff better.

                                                                  When I've had to make pit stops, I do what Bobby Flay has mentioned. Order a drink or fries and use the facilities while my order is being prepped.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                    He found the address, sent the letter and then refused payment. What was the point?

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      The police provided the address, the owner sent the letter, the "offender" called the news and the owner refused payment once the news got involved.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        I read the article back when it was first posted but I thought the woman said she tried to pay but was denied. I don't remember it happening before media got involved but could easily have forgotten/missed it. I also wonder why bother getting the media involved in such a trivial matter to begin with.

                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                          I suppose to out the owner for calling the police, sending the letter and asking for $5.00.

                                                                      2. re: chowser

                                                                        I think the owner wanted to get his word in with the "offender" because his authori-ty was ignored. I know who you are. I have your address and now you have my letter. It's a form of intimidation.

                                                                        1. re: dave_c

                                                                          Until the "offender" turned around and called the local news desk. I would say the "offender" was not intimidated.

                                                                    2. Hmmm ... if it's so expensive for the restaurant to provide restroom services, maybe I should get a discount when I patronize a place and don't use the restroom. Or maybe a credit towards a "free pee" next time I'm in the neighborhood. Maybe they could give out frequent customer cards good for a "free pee" after five stamps.