Terrific Tea and Wild Toilets!
Ever Wondered About The Toilets?
I travel the world drinking tea, which means I visit toilets in amazing places. The range of loos that can be found is remarkable and there are definitely some that I will never return to.
Have you heard the crazy story about the boy who got sick because he kissed a dirty toilet seat!?! That has to be an urban legend - who in the world would kiss a toilet seat, dirty or not? Sure, we'll repeat a silly story like that but we don't seem to talk about the issue of dirty restrooms/toilets/
washrooms/bathrooms/WC's in public, but in private it can change our perspective about visiting a food or drink business, even if the tea/coffee/food is exceptional. Heck, it can turn me off of visiting a friend! Now, don't get me wrong - I couldn't care less about a bathroom being tidy, but dirty? YUCK!
When it comes to a business where we spend our money, and, in exchange, expect to be served a delicious and health maintaining meal or drink, we expect delivery on the unstated promise. The state of the loo suggests to me the state of a business's kitchen, and when a bathroom is really bad, that can be a FRIGHTENING connection!
All Photos and Writing are Copyright by ME - Teapixie! :)
Full Service Establishment - Lovely Biffy
On the train from Mombasa, Kenya to Nairobi, I was delighted to sit in the dinning car and drink tea. Of course, a pot of tea led to the need for a washroom. "It's an experience you'll never forget," said my partner. With my hands braced on opposite walls of the "choo" (Swahili for toilet) I braced myself to squat over a hole in the floor of the train. With muscles tense, I looked down through that hole in the floor and watched the train tracks swoosh past, as I did my business. I carried wipes on that trip; there was no toilet paper. It was the dirtiest restroom I have ever been in. And yet, this simple version of a toilet allowed for the basic of necessities. Necessities over cleanliness, every time!
Can a hole in the floor of a train car still be called a toilet if there is no plumbing involved? Unfortunately, when the train broke down or was way-laid, everyone still had to use that choo to relieve themselves. You can imagine the picture that was created if you looked down into the hole. Or worse, had to cross the tracks after a stopped train pulled away. Bleah!
I find the need for a toilet always outweighs my reaction to the quality of facilities provided, but when it comes to buying a cup of tea away from home, I will avoid an establishment if I know that it has a disgusting loo. On the other hand, I will celebrate and promote, enthusiastically, the tearooms and cafes that recognize the characteristics of a full service establishment.
Many years ago a very good friend recommended I discover elevated tea drinking and then introduced me to this little tearoom where the bathroom was clean, the walls were covered in hand-painted blackberry bushes and then decorated with beautiful hats. Every woman who went for tea at that little shop didn't leave before visiting the restroom and each visit required an accounting of the hats, "Is there a new one?" each of us would ask the first to go in.
Since that time I have hunted for what I will call, experience washrooms. In one case I found a quaint and well kept WC with delicately hand-painted ivy covering the walls and in another there were granite counters, waterfall faucets, hand cream, and an abundant supply of towels. Of course there are always the amazing experience washrooms: automated everything, fresh towels being handed to you, disposable supplies for refreshing your makeup, marble floors and complimentary lighting, and soothing music. I've been known to visit all of the most amazing hotels in London, just to use their ladies' rooms.
To all tea serving establishments: make a commitment to your loyal tea-drinking clientele by creating inspiring, inviting, clean, and memorable WCs. It doesn't have to be marble floors or granite counters, but even washing the walls or refreshing the paint, and regular hourly visits, to make sure the room is clean, would be nice. Yes, of course a resentment can build on the part of proprietors who hate cleaning up after sloppy tea guzzlers who miss the toilet or drop toilet paper everywhere, but it doesn't build your business to ignore this necessary part of doing business.
What Is YOUR Opinion?
Dirty restrooms? You've been in at least one and you probably had an opinion about it that is worth sharing - without profanity! Take this poll and let proprietors know how you feel - maybe it will inspire them to make those bathrooms a priority.
Yes - it might seem trite to comment on this topic, but your comments and opinions really can make a difference in the minds of proprietors. Of course, one way or another you will pay for the quality of service provided, but isn't it worth it?
Will you revisit a tearoom or cafe if you discover their restrooms are dirty and neglected?
Experts Tip Toe Around Dirty Kitchens
Take a look at what Dr. Oz and Chef, Richard Blais of Top Chef All-Stars have to say about kitchens.
- Dirty Little Secrets
Go behind the scenes and look into restaurant kitchens and learn to serve yourself when eating out.
What About The Kitchen?
When you encounter a dirty or neglected restroom, do you question the state of the establishment's kitchen?
What Can Restaurants/Cafes/Bars Do?
So, what could a proprietor do to make their restrooms more inviting?
1. Set up a cleaning schedule - have people's names attached to a schedule on the door of the restroom. The schedule should show what time the restrooms are to be cleaned (at least 3 times a day) with information to contact a specific person, should someone be irresponsible and leave the restrooms in a state that needs to be cleaned. And cleaning means making sure everything sparkles, there is no water, toilet paper, or dirt on the floor, that toilet paper and hand towels are well stocked, that plumbing works, that mirrors and walls and floors are clean. There is nothing to leave out. Nothing!
2. Maintain the plumbing. Taps should not leak, toilets should not over flow or leak. Sinks should not be plugged. The people who clean the restrooms should be responsible for requesting maintenance. And all fixtures should be tested once per month.
3. Paint. Don't let your business get run down . It takes a little TLC and very little money to apply a new coat of paint in your bathrooms and in your serving area. And while you are at it, look at your kitchen. What kind of state is it in? It really does matter.
4. Be creative. Consider kooky artwork, message boards, or unique items that change regularly. You are creating an experience - people will come back to find out what kind of attention you have paid to this environment, recently.
5. Consider plus-quality services. Restrooms with quiet music, inviting, warm colours, hand cream from pump dispensers, and mirrors with lighting that makes customers look good will enhance the environment of your business.
Even if you have a small budget, paying a little attention to your restrooms will pay off in the quality of your customer's experience, loyalty, and desire to spend in your business. It is amazing how powerful a fresh can of paint and a few stencils, and a regular cleaning schedule can be in persuading customer loyalty. I am particularly delighted to see cleaning schedules that get signed with times.
Ultimately, take care of this space. It helps influence users to take care of it, too.
We had a great all day adventure around our city with a friend who lives miles away in a tiny place with few restaurants. One of the fantastic benefits of living in this city is the wide variety of cuisines from around the world. We decided on lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant - ohh those yummy Pho'a soups - tea in an award winning pot sticker restaurant (Chinese) - and we were capping our eat-a-thon off with sushi (Japanese).
Whenever our friend comes to town we walk everywhere, including out for meals, and it is imperative that we have sushi. Until now, we didn't have a favourite restaurant for sushi so would hunt around the city, looking for a place that would inspire us. Today, we did the same thing and were very excited to find an "All you can eat" sushi restaurant that we had never tried.
After all of that walking, I had to visit the restrooms before ordering my meal. Although I was famished, I was more in need of a toilet than a menu. The state of the restaurant bathroom was horrifying. The floors, walls, and stall doors were smeared with dirt (not just one stall and "dirt" is a diplomatic word). The mirrors and sinks were dirty. The toilets hadn't been flushed (ever?). There was toilet paper stuffed into corners, doors were broken, the mirrors were broken, tiles were falling off the walls, and the plumbing was broken; taps were running incessantly.
Looking at the outside and in the serving area of the restaurant, no one would guess the overwhelming filth of the bathrooms.
When I returned to the table with my friends, I looked at the menu and was not inspired. I couldn't think past the repulsion of the restrooms. I didn't order any food and watched in horror as my friends ordered and ate food. I was so frightened that they would get sick. Unfortunately, all I could see were the dirt spots on the floors or the wear of the plates. I realized I was getting weird, looking skeptically at the plates as if they were covered in dirt. I have had food poisoning and I am not interested in ever getting it again.
I will never, ever go back to that restaurant. We now have a 'go-to' sushi restaurant. I promote the restaurant I love and I warn people off, vehemently, the restaurant that let their restrooms become such a disaster.
Send A Link To This Article To The Businesses That YOU THINK Need Help!
- Terrific Tea and Wild Toilets!
Dirty Toilets = Clean Kitchens? I think not. Sadly, whenever any business is dirty it reflects poorly on whatever service or product they are selling. Bring your opinions to share!
Are you a proprietor of a tearoom or cafe? Or are you a customer? Tell us about your "full service" experiences, or what it's like to be on the other side, as a proprietor who has to take care of slobby patrons. We're listening!
© 2012 Tea Pixie