By Elisia Ciancio – Shikatani Lacroix

Obviously, you go to restaurants for the food, but one of the first things I do is check out the bathroom. I dread having to use public bathrooms. They’re dirty, they smell, and there are always unmentionable finds. But, if you want to get a sense of a place, you must see how well they treat their bathrooms. Clean floors? I’ll like the place more. An amazing accent wall that makes for a perfect bathroom selfie and amazing lighting? Yes please!

Some restaurants may have a five-star rating, but have a one-star bathroom. Your customers look for more than a great menu, great food, and great décor. They look at the whole package, and the bathroom always seems to be the disappointing missing piece.

Here are some tips and tricks to make sure your customers have a great, consistent experience, from the table to the toilet.

Stay on theme

Ensure your bathrooms are an extension of your restaurant. You want their experience to flow seamlessly no matter where they are within your space.

Design Tip: Incorporate materials that were used throughout the restaurant into your bathroom to create a cohesive design.

Your bathroom design should complement your restaurant

The bathroom should be reflective of your brand, and brand personality. Due to its small real estate, your brand does not have the capacity to create a huge memorable experience. Some bathrooms can be fun and quirky. Create a lasting impression by using large scale graphics, fun wallpaper, multi-colored tiles or a surprising experience.

Some restaurants may teach you a language while using the wash room, while others, like Otto’s Bierhalle in Toronto, creates a memorable and unconventional experience in their bathroom. Listed as one of the city’s best-kept secrets, by Now Toronto, the basement bathrooms are home to a mysterious, oversized button. Unmarked and unmissable, every customer feels the need to press the button. To their surprise, they are nothing but delighted. The exciting button experience has become a local social media sensation and staple in all of Otto’s restaurants.

Thomas Masmejean, partner at Otto’s Bierhalle and creator of the bathroom party, designed this experience to be a “15 second escape from your day-to-day activities and a way to make bathrooms more fun and allowed for a creative outlet for me. It gives a smile to 90% of people who dared to press the unmarked button. From babies to grandparents, it gives people a boost of happiness throughout their day.”

Masmejean continued, “I do believe people should make their bathrooms more fun, it’s a place that everyone will visit at one point or another. So, adding some extra care is a good idea especially in the age of social media when, even if accepted by most people, a selfie is easier to take behind closed doors.”

Design Tip: Make selective choices to complement your restaurant design. The bathroom should have character and be an extension of the restaurant space.

Make selective choices to complement your restaurant design. The bathroom should have character and be an extension of the restaurant space

Design and Set-Up

The real estate bathrooms take up is non-profitable to a restaurant brand. The more space a bathroom takes up means less space for restaurant patrons. This is why layout of the bathrooms is important and it should be efficient and organized. Ensure layout and design meet accessibility needs, this can also assist with wait lines.

Design Tip: Don’t forget about the lighting! Lighting is not only important for the timeless bathroom selfie, but it should continue the tone of the restaurant. Ensure the lighting is not harsh!

Attention to detail

Always put customer convenience first when designing a bathroom. For example, including a small shelf ledge above the sink for purses or include a bench seat and vanity. Consider adding convenience items such as lotion, perfume/cologne, etc. Depending on your restaurant’s demographic, consider “Family” bathrooms and/or nursing area. This demonstrates the brand has thought about their patron’s bathroom routine.

Design Tip: For a cleaner look, recess all fixtures such as garbage units and soap dispensers and/or consider touchless accessories, toilets, taps, soap, hand dryers etc., are a nice touch.

Cleanliness

Your bathroom can set the mood for your customer’s experience. If your customer is anything like me, the cleanliness of the bathroom and the cleanliness of the kitchen go hand in hand. Always use materials that are durable and easy to clean. Many cleaners use harsh chemicals, so it’s important that all of your materials can withstand the daily operations.

Design Tip: Use materials that are durable and easy to clean.

Bathrooms tend to be the forgotten piece of the restaurant design puzzle, and yet, apart from the table your consumers are seated, it is a major brand touchpoint. As seen at Otto’s Bierhalle, the bathroom can bring energy and attention to even the smallest of places. Ensure your bathroom, like every other brand touchpoint in your restaurant, is carefully thought out. Your patrons, and their tushies will thank you.

This post originally appeared on the Shikatani Lacroix blog here.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com
Video courtesy of  YouTube
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