Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Mar 3, 2013 01:03 PM

Women sent $5.00 bill/note for using restaurant bathroom

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)
  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,
          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.



                      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...:

                        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


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

                        1. re: Kris in Beijing


                          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