A restaurant can have everything good going for it: great food, attentive service, atmospheric lighting and music.
However, take one trip to the bathroom with its stained walls, broken door lock, Mach-3 ceiling fan, strewn paper towels and a mirror that looks like it had a run through a rock tumbler, and the whole restaurant is ruined.
It is an often overlooked element, but the bathroom is one of the most important aspects of the restaurant experience. It is the time the customer is most in need of privacy and respect. How a restaurant handles these needs can either make or break the whole night.
This is a rundown of the best and the worst of restaurant bathrooms around College Avenue.
The Boot Grill:
This upscale burger bar on Laurel has a lot to offer in both the food and restroom departments. Wood paneled floors, spotless walls and polished doors speak to a welcome attention to cleanliness. Along with the fully stocked soap and towel dispensers, this restroom looks like it was built yesterday. Truly, The Boot is presenting Fort Collins with a model to aspire to.
The Alley Cat
While a big leaguer can afford those chrome plated doors and wicker towel holders, the little guys are also expected to maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness, which the Alley Cat certainly meets.
This coffee house nestled behind Mason and Laurel is known for its display of local art, and this is no different in the restrooms. Spanning an entire wall is a chalkboard on which anyone is welcome to add their own artistic vision. Across from that, hundreds of pasted brown leaflets preach surreal and often nonsensical messages about Buddhism and hippie culture, in line with the Alley Cat’s unique atmosphere.
The faucet pressure is great, too.
The water closet at this popular pizza joint is an outlier in how it breaks with the usual conventions. The rule of avoiding cramped spaces is basically a Commandment in the world of public venue management, but here that rule is broken and made to work.
The uniform monochromatic color scheme is found in the striped walls, reminiscent of the costume design of Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice,” and in the black-and-white portraits of iconic New York buildings and bridges.
There is absolutely no room to spare, having just enough space to sit and wash your hands comfortably.
Toy’s Thai Cafe
These above three restrooms represent the best of the Colorado State University’s immediate vicinity, hitting every mark for maintenance and mood. However, one Laurel Street establishment, Toy’s Thai Cafe, represents everything that can possibly go wrong. It is a monument to bathroom sins.
Upon approach from a dank behind-the-counter hallway, the customer anticipates the worst. Opening a broken door too small for its frame reveals a pair of crusty floral print linoleum steps leading up to a punishingly tiny closet unfit for a water heater.
A decorative plastic flower bud sits perched on top of what can only be assumed to be a used bucket of soy sauce. Yes, it appears soy sauce is sold in buckets now. Next to the toilet is a stained, postcard-sized print out picture of a sad cowboy attached to the wall with tape that looks older than the building, eliciting unending confusion. Why are you here, cowboy? Why are you so sad? Such questions may never be answered.
The toilet is wedged up against the wall so as to leave no room for sitting. The faucets squeak louder than the squeakiest door in a slasher horror flick. The trash can, with literally no where else to go, cannot open all the way without hitting the sick. The incense holder looks like it has not been refilled in 20 years. The silhouette of a vase is printed smack-dab in the middle of the mirror, obscuring the glass.
This bathroom leaves you with feelings of dread and regret, but most are never allowed to get this bad. When lavatories falter, it is usually limited to a few areas.
The Colorado Room uses too much concentrated citrus deodorant and the towel dispensers require the torque of a bullwhip to not end up pulling out seven feet of paper. Pickle Barrel and Avogadro’s Number both suffer from a lack of door locks. The sink at Mugs Coffee Lounge could also use a good rinse or two.
Not only is the quality of a restroom important to the restaurant experience, it can even be indicative of the quality of the food, according to eater.com.
That sad cowboy might have been trying to say something.
Collegian reporter Matthew Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @latvatalo.