Restaurant bathrooms are so much more than a place to just… use the bathroom. They’re selfie havens, places to touch up your hair, and sometimes, quiet refuges from the bright lights, loud music, and overwhelming social pressures outside their doors. If you’ve ever escaped into a restaurant or coffeeshop bathroom to take a deep breath or have a good cry—you’re far from alone.
Restaurant-industry publication QSR Magazine has a new report detailing the importance of clean and orderly restaurant bathrooms; their research found that customers will spend more money at restaurants with clean facilities. In fact, 64 percent of people consciously choose a business based on its clean, well-maintained restrooms. Duh, no one likes a gross bathroom.
But there were further insights that made us feel so much less weird for ducking into restaurant bathrooms even though we don’t actually have to, you know. Almost half of adults will visit a restroom just to check their appearance, while 27 percent say they regard public bathrooms as a “respite or getaway” in order to “avoid someone, cry, hide or take a mental health break.” Been there. Who among us hasn’t rushed into a coffeeshop bathroom just to get a break from a crowded, touristy street? Or suddenly left an awkward dinner conversation with a beeline for the facilities?
QSR urges restaurants to make sure their restrooms are clean, stocked with paper products, and have properly functioning stall latches. But based on the findings that many of us use restrooms as social escapes, I’d add that restaurants can go one step further. I love a good restaurant-bathroom chair or couch (for adjusting the stupid high heels I definitely should not have worn), as well as complimentary hygiene products, soothing candles or reed diffusers, and full-length mirrors so I can check whether I smudged the back of my jeans. Make that bathroom too plush, though, and I might never return to my table.