Wednesday 26 March 2008

UPENN Toilets Offer Many Options for Disabled and Non-Disable Persons Alike

Henry M. Watts Neuromuscular Disease Center
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
4th Floor
Philadelphia, PA USA

Where is it?

The toilets are on the fourth floor of the building where the Neuromuscular Disease Center is. Follow the signs to the building and then head up via the elevator. The men's bathroom is right next to the elevator, beside the sign for the center (as shown above). The women's is to the right of the elevator shaft.

What's it like?

These are classic multi-person facilities in a public building. The design is pretty much standard for what you'll find inside any institution of higher learning. It's fully functional and clean but also a little sterile and run-of-the-mill. Then again, considering that it's at a medical research facility, you kind of expect that. This isn't Vegas, after all.

The walls are covered with beige tile and white grout -- both a bit worn but not so much to make them look like they're in need of replacement. The floor is covered with small dark brown tile and black grout -- a standard combination for public restrooms that we've seen used in many other places (it hides dirt and stains better), like Fresh Market Orlando or Total Wine Raleigh. Only here, they tile is a bit darker, better kept and cleaner.

(Apparently, the rule seems to be that if you're a store selling household items or foods, people will expect your bathrooms' floors to be clean and sparkling but in reality they will be brown and dingy and gross. On the flip side, if you're a location that services students -- who are supposed to be somewhat unkempt to begin with and generally speaking have better things to worry about than cleanliness -- you floors will be spotless and sanitary. Go figure.)

Feature-wise, the place offers everything in sets of threes: Three urinals, three stalls, and three sink-mirror stations. The catch here is that the third in each group is designed specifically for disabled persons.

The third urinal in its series, for example, pointed out from behind the beige divider separating it from its neighbor, allowing those with access issues a better chance at hitting the mark, so to speak. A similar concept was found in the sink, where the third sink of the series jetted out from the wall further than the rest. (Though, it should be said that the faucets were still along the back side -- something I see with handicapped toilets all over, and it makes me wonder if anyone in, say, a wheelchair ever has trouble reaching back to turn on the water. One would think it would be easier to to place the faucets in a location that makes them easier to grab? Just a thought.)

The commodes themselves broke away from the pattern described above in that the third stall was indeed roomier and granted greater access to handicapped persons, but in addition to this (which is usually as far as toilets like these go) it also offered a plastic booster seat placed atop the commode itself. The booster looked like it would make it easier for someone to sit and get up from the toilets themselves. Granted, the plastic booster also looked like it might not be too sanitary after a use or two -- I imagined, even after one use, it would look much like one of those portable compost toilets hikers take around with them (ick) so they can crap in the woods -- but on a per use basis it sure looked helpful.

Otherwise, this is a clean, relatively quiet bathroom that -- outside of its disabled features -- doesn't have anything very distinctive about it -- expect maybe the side-by-side paper towel dispensers, which looked rather futuristic, I thought.

Hmm... maybe this place is cooler than I first thought it was.

Marks out of 10:

8. Big ups for its disabled features, which are plentiful, well-planned and clean.

Comments to the Management:

A little decor might help. But then, outside of the people who work here and attend classes here, who would really visit the place? It's a lab bathroom -- so perhaps it doesn't really need much in terms of decor.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

End-of-Terminal Toilets at PHL Airport Perhaps a Little Too Roomy

Philadelphia International Airport
Philadelphia, PA USA

Where is it?

Beside Gate C28.

What's it like?

Gate C28 is at the end of the C terminal in PHL. Given that, and that these toilets accommodate only about three to four gates worth of people at most, you'd expect the bathrooms here to be a little small.

That isn't the case. These are somewhat sprawling facilities offering passing travelers plenty of chances to stretch out after suffering through the tight quarters of an airplane. I'm sure they get busy now and then, but on my visit I found them practically empty and very welcoming.

The bathroom here comes split into two distinct sections, one for toilet stalls and one for urinals; each area features a somewhat vast "lobby" area between the actual toilet and the sink stations, which occupy the center island here and serve as the divider between the two areas.

The toilet stalls, maybe 10 in all, line the entire back wall of the place and are roomy enough to get your business done in, but the commodes themselves sit a little too lowly to the ground for my taste -- makes it hard to get up after a long sit, if you will. Also, although they sit far from the main entrance to the bathroom, there is still little feeling of isolation felt inside, due mostly to the "lobby" area in front of them, which carries the sounds made by the people at the sink stations a little too well.

The urinals, maybe seven total, sit in the back right corner of the place and are lined up on the same wall as the entrance door and a baby-changing station. No, no one can peak in while you're piddling, but still the sensation of someone possibly having the chance to do so is certainly there. Adding a door to the entrance would easily solve these paranoid delusions.

Otherwise, it's a very clean place, easily on par with the other airports we've visited recently. The sinks are all metallic and shiny and configured with automatic faucets and soap dispensers. Toilets, with automatic flush, were all in tip-top shape and sparkling clean.

Marks out of 10:

7. I like the spaciousness but would prefer the place not carry sound so efficiently because of it.

Comments to the Management:

A door, instead of an open entrance, would be nice. I would also suggest adding a way to absorb that extra sound there, but I'm not sure what can be done without resurfacing the walls, which would be very expensive and burdensome, so....

Monday 24 March 2008

Dulles Toilets Display Solid Use of Reflection

Dulles International Airport
1 Aviation Circle
Washington, DC USA

Where is it?

By Gate B28. The toilets are just beyond it, heading towards the higher-numbered gates.

What's it like?

Airport bathrooms can be hit or miss, especially at larger facilities like this one. I went in thinking it might be similar to some rest areas I'd visited recently -- smelly, a bit grimy, but functional overall. Thankfully, this Dulles spot topped all expectations. Clean, virtually no smell and perfectly serviceable.

This is a slim area, with a design that knows how to make its space very functional -- you'll see very little wasted space here. Along the left wall, you'll find a string of urinals, separated by shiny metallic dividers, and then a collection of four or five commode stalls, also separated by metallic walls. (Notice a theme here?) Across from the urinals, set into the wall some so as to amplify the space allotted for walking around, is a vanity area with four sink stations, each with automatic water faucets and automatic soap dispensers. The hand driers and towels hang on the wall to each side of the vanity.

Atmosphere-wise: It's a bit dim here in terms of lighting, but because of the many bits of shiny metal somehow the place seems brighter than it is -- an effect that seems due entirely to the reflection of light off those metallic dividers. Of course, that doesn't mean it's blindingly bright here, but still it's bright enough to keep the place from seeming murky. The only exception to this is the back stall, which is considerably darker compared to the rest of the place.

Also, there is no door to the bathroom here. Rather, people enter via a small hallway and head left or right, depending on their sex. As a result, visitors can hear a good deal of the walking traffic noise from outside. (Clearly, the designers here haven't perfected the Wynn's technique on this.) Still, once you've locked yourself in one of those dimly lit stalls to do your business, you don't feel very rushed at all. So they've got to be doing something right here, right?

Note: Sorry for the slightly blurry images here -- ever since the security measures at U.S. airports got more serious, I get nervous taking pictures there. So nearly all the shots here were taken with one eye on the camera and one eye on the door. (I don't want to be covering toilet conditions inside a jail.)

Marks out of 10:

8. A decent airport toilet that surprises you here and there with its simple design flourishes.

Comments to the Management:

An actual entrance door would be nice, but I could see how it might go against the overall design of the place. Airport toilets are for quick ins and outs, not long visits, and I understand this, but still one can hope...... Otherwise, consider adding (or better yet, reflecting) some more light on those stalls, just so the people using them can see a little better.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Shiny, Brand-New Penny Found on Floor of Hershey's Ice Cream Bathroom

Hershey's Ice Cream
6437 S. Chickasaw Trail
Orlando, FL USA

Where is it?

This is a long place, so from the main entrance walk to the rear of the establishment, past the order counter and ice cream coolers, until you reach the very back corner of it (past the storage area and semi-open kitchen). The bathrooms are there, in a little enclave.

What's it like?

This modest little storefront, located inside a strip mall surrounding a neighborhood Publix, is a typical local's joint. Modest, clean interior, friendly staff, unpretentious -- essentially, a very warm place to stop for a snack or some ice cream after spending your money at the nearby Publix. The menu consists of standard fast food fare -- Chicago-style hot dogs, chicken fingers, french fries, etc -- as well as some terrific ice cream dishes. The ice cream, by far, is the main attraction here -- it's terrific, real ice cream, stuff that people up north who grew up with dairy farms will appreciate (sorry, but the Floridian affinity for soft serve with added flavorings just ain't the same!). The food, on the other hand, isn't anything special -- a decent standby if you're in the neighborhood and want something quick and cheap -- but there are far better hot dog joints and fried food palaces in the Orlando area. Still, if you're in the area and feel the need to nosh......

Like the restaurant it's located in, the toilet here is modest, clean and cozy and modest. It accommodates only one person at a time, either sex, and because the restaurant itself tends to be quiet most of the time, the toilet here actually makes for a great place to stop for a longer visit, if need be. Much better than the noisy Publix nearby.

Plus, the interior has a few design flourishes you might not expect from such a little place (and thinking it over, I wonder if the owners here took a few notes from Tacos El Rancho): The floor is covered in a somewhat elegant rust-colored tile and the walls are painted green. It's a combination that you think wouldn't work, but when it's coupled with the dim lighting of the environment, they somehow work, creating a sort of Creole-inspired atmosphere, believe it or not. Fixtures are your standard white porcelain models, but they are clean and comfortable.

On top of this, I found a shiny, brand new penny sitting at the base of the toilet. Not sure if it was accidentally dropped there, or if it was left by a prankish visitor who wanted someone to get his or her hands filthy while getting it (yes, we all know the trick with the quarter left inside the urinal water, right?), but still it was there, and though I didn't pick it up, it looked clean and ready to find its way into someone's pocket.

Marks out of 10:

8. A cozy, unpretentious little environment found in a cozy, unpretentious little neighborhood joint.

Comments to the Management:

Consider dropping quarters or half-dollar coins on the ground, and I'll think more seriously about picking them up. Otherwise, keep up the good work!

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Bathrooms at Total Wine Orlando Share Stink of Total Wine Raleigh

Total Wine & More - Orlando
2712 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL USA 32803

Where is it?

Unlike Total Wine in Raleigh, the bathrooms here do not require the visitor to venture through the entire store and past the cashiers before being granted the privilege of accessing them (meaning you don't have to buy something to use them).

Simply enter the warehouse, turn right at the first corner you see and head past the coolers on your right. A hallway will open up on your right; it leads to the bathrooms, employee break room, and stocking areas for those coolers.

What's it like?

This branch of the mammoth wine, booze and beer megastore chain has a similar design to the Raleigh store, though this one has a wider floor plan than than that one, which was longer than it was wide. Isles don't stretch on for yards and yards here, though it does seem to take an exceedingly long time to walk from one side of the place to the other. The selection, like the Raleigh store, is top-notch, though because of Florida's sin-tax import taxes, you won't find as many hard-to-find items here that you would in Raleigh (like the wonderful Luksus beer from Latvia, which isn't available in Florida because of those laws).

Like Raleigh, the place is a little frenetic and purposefully intimidating to visit -- almost as if they know you will have to ask someone for help, one way or the way. However, be warned: That help can be dubious. A recent visit here, for some wine, led us to several mismatched recommendations. We were looking for some pinot noir from Oregon, which we really like, but we didn't know what brands to buy because the ones we drink normally have been given to us from people out of state and at the moment they are unavailable in Florida. The staff member assigned to help us hadn't heard of the vineyards we said we liked, and instead of admitting fault or working with us, she kept suggesting we try merlot. We don't mind merlot -- we're not "Sideways" snobs, after all -- but as anyone who knows wine will tell you, there's a major difference between pinot and merlot, and it wasn't what we were looking for. So, knowing that, each subsequent visit we have made to this store requires us to do some background checking beforehand.

Anyway, the store's frenetic nature finds its way into the bathrooms as well -- though chances are you won't be asking a clerk for help in that department. (At least I hope not!) These are small facilities -- one toilet stall, one sink, one urinal with a modestly sized walk-in area. It's somewhat clean, though I did find a few mis-thrown paper towels and some spilled water on the floor.

Decor-wise, it's on par with the Raleigh store. There are no wall hangings or decor here, just drywall -- though the beige walls do make a better impression than the bland white of the Raleigh store. Also on had are beige urinal dividers and stall doors and an inviting wood-colored linoleum tile on the floor.

Despite those changes, though, the facilities don't smell much better than the Raleigh location. The stink of urine is still pretty sharp here -- I'm assuming it comes with the territory, since the staff is supposed to sample the merchandise (I'm guessing?) as a means to become familiar with it and that in turn creates the need to urinate. (I'm hoping it's that and it's not some corporate thing..... Please tell me it's not a corporate thing.) Still, an air freshener or two, or even some spray, would be very helpful.

On top of this, the noise factor inside the bathroom is remarkably high -- no doubt the result of putting the toilets next to the break room and the restock areas for the nearby coolers (a design flaw that reminds me a lot of the issues I had with Roasters and Toasters in North Miami Beach). So while the place will certainly suffice for longer visits, it isn't nearly as peaceful or idyllic as, say, a glass of Oregonian pinot noir.

Marks out of 10:

5. A notch higher than the Raleigh store but still nothing more than a "use as needed" facility.

Comments to the Management:

Like my suggestions to the Raleigh store, adding some decor to the walls -- even if it's just the weekly circular -- would make the place more inviting. Also, some air fresheners would be welcome. Finally, and I'm not sure if there's an easy, inexpensive way to fix this because of the building's construction, but consider putting in a sound buffer between the break room, cooler restock hallway and bathrooms.

Friday 14 March 2008

Noisy Taverna Opa Toilets Almost Too Rambunctious to Review

Taverna Opa Restaurant
9101 International Drive
Orlando, FL USA 32819

Where is it?

From the main entrance, head left through the chaotic, music and dancer-filled dining room and into the bar area. When you're almost to the back wall of the bar (but not quite at the entrance where you will enter the patio service area), head right down a little hallway there. You'll find the toilets there.

What's it like?

This Greek restaurant chain, which started in Miami and opened a location in Orlando's Pointe Orlando mall in 2007, is a wild and loud place, to say the least. The interior mixes an NYC loft style (bricks, open spaces) with a nightclub vibe, making it a festive place where the kitchen serves hearty Greek specialties beneath an ambiance of flashing lights, sirens and house music pumped so loudly that you will have trouble making conversation with your guests.

If that weren't enough, waiters here tend to stop service a few times an hour to jump up on tables and dance, or throw thousands of paper napkins in the air, or start random conga lines by taking patrons from their seats and adding to the line. Very festive, very loud -- a great place to go if you're with a group that doesn't want t speak a lot while you're there (like my visit here with my grumpy compadre Kip McGuire, as the picture below points out, was clearly more taken by the food than the company).

The food is very good, especially the fresh mezze and the delicious grilled items and seafood. Get the large scampi sauteed in butter, wine and tomatoes if it's on the menu, or the braised lamb shanks. Both are excellent and succulent (as Kip McGuire will surely tell you). Prices are a little on the high side, so keep that in mind while ordering around the menu.

The toilets, ironically enough, are just as boisterous as the dining room -- though, thankfully enough, you won't find waiters interrupting your visit to drag you into a conga line. (Phew.) However, this isn't a quiet spot to escape the hustle and bustle (not like the magical facilities as Wynn Las Vegas, for example). You will hear the house music playing quite prevalently here, and because of the restaurant's festive vibe and modus operandi (i.e. it pushes a lot of drinks upon the clientele) people use the toilets consistently here. So much so that I was only afforded one clean shot of the interior of the bathroom before being burst in upon by a string of frat boys needing to drain the main vein.

The environment itself is decent. Nice rusty beige tile on the floor, beige-colored drywall walls, some black highlights here and there, good lighting, and it was clean for the most part, save for the bits of mis-thrown paper and such. Nothing too terrible. But I do wish it were a little less hectic -- I imagine making a longer pit stop here would be very stressful, what with all the heavy bass beats and the people pounding away at you all the while.....

Marks out of 10:

7. Decent bathrooms, but like the bustling facilities at Soyka's in Miami, they offer little chance to relax and let your guard down, if you know what I mean.

Comments to the Management:

Is there any way to make the bathrooms feel more isolated? Or to turn the music down? I have a headache, just thinking about that pumping bass beat.....

Thursday 13 March 2008

Maurice's BBQ is Heavenly, But its Toilets Lack Southern Charm

Maurice's BBQ
263 Britain Street
Santee, SC USA

Where is it?

From the front entrance, walk past the small front-of -building store containing a slew of pro-South memorabilia and books and head to the order counter. Once there, resist the temptation of ordering a platter of BBQ, turn right and enter the dining room.

Turn left down the front lobe of the dining room and head towards the giant portrait of Maurice, the place's owner, sitting on the back wall. There is a small doorway to the right of that, which leads into an enclave holding the bathrooms.

What's it like?

Maurice's Piggy Park has been placed on such a pedestal in my home that when we passed a franchise store for the South Carolina-only BBQ chain off the highway we didn't even question the idea of not stopping. Ironically, to this point, I'd had only this company's sauce and knew a little about it's owner, Maurice, who is one of those Southerners who feels the south should rise again and takes a lot of pride in his native state's pre-Civil War heritage. The sauce of course is fantastic so I'll easily forgive the company's namesake for his cultural and political views. However, I had not sampled his BBQ to this point.

Walking up to the place, which looks like a converted Taco Bell from the outside, I smelled little smoke or anything resembling the top-notched BBQ I've had so far in my life. I suddenly started wondering if I was in for another roadside restaurant letdown.

Ordering did little to assuage my insecurities. The food, I saw, came not from smokers or ovens, but from steam boxes in the kitchen that kept the various menu items warm. In asking the cashier about this, I was told that this location received several shipments of fresh BBQ from its headquarters in Columbia (about an hour and a half away) each day and didn't do much cooking outside of griddle and frying work for the hot dogs, burgers and fries. Not exactly a promising start.

We ordered the sample plate, which included generous portions of BBQ chicken, pulled pork, BBQ hash over rice, brisket, sliced pork and more, and then sat down to wait for our food. We grabbed four bottles of sauce on the way to the table too -- Maurice's original, spicy, hickory and honey.

Now, a word on Maurice's sauces: These are mustard based sauces, so if you're a fan of vinegar or tomato based sauce you might not go for these. They take a bit of getting used to, especially if you're expecting something more traditional. But they are outstanding and once you open your mind to them you'll see what the fuss is all about. Ironically, Maurice's calls them "table sauces," meaning they can be used for multiple items, not just BBQ. And this is true -- it's great on everything, even cereal.

Of course, the BBQ came out and we were astonished by the amount of food being given to us. It could easily feed a family of 6 and you still might have leftovers. This is unique BBQ -- where as most BBQ I've had is dry smoked and tends to require sauce for moistening, this BBQ came to us as a delightful, juicy, gooey mess. The smoke flavor abounded but wasn't overpowering or too subtle. Topping it with the sauce increased the gooey texture and added another dimension of flavor and texture to the food. I couldn't help but get my hands in there and start nibbling, gnawing and chewing. This was hands down the best BBQ I've ever had. It was life changing, it was that good. Kudos to you, Maurice.

Now, if only I could say the same about your restaurant's bathroom. This was a sad state of affairs, to say the least. Of course, with all that gooey BBQ being served in the dining room, you expect the place to be a bit dingy. Hell, this isn't a fine dining place and people will have to wash their hands well after leaving (you hear that Uncle Bubba's?). But I wasn't expecting the place to be this off the mark.

The walls here are covered with tiny white tiles, and much of the grout seems to have seen better days and has noticeable bits of grime and mildew in it. The floor is covered with that bland dark brick tile we see at lots of places, which is used so messes don't look so apparent on the floor. Well, I have to say that tile or not tile there was a lot of mess on the floor, namely in the form of urine. Nearly every toilet, from urinal to commode, had a small pool of it at its base. As you can imagine, the smell was pretty strong -- and it kind of killed the vibe created by that great BBQ, which is very sad indeed.

Also worth noting is that one of the urinals was out of order, and I wonder if this made patrons think they could use the floor as an alternative. It certainly seemed that way from what I saw. (And the large sign posted over the broken urinal, indicating it wasn't working, was so large and attention-getting that I wondered if the public hadn't seen the first few signs posted there and continued doing there business in the urinal regardless of the warning.)

The sink itself was clean enough, but the faucets spit out water at a lower pressure than what was needed to get those BBQ-sauce entrenched hands spotless. You really needed to work to get your hands clean here. The toilet stall (only one here; with two urinals and one sink) wasn't in too bad of condition, except the toilet itself had some harsh hard water stains inside, as well as a good pool of urine around its base.

Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get back into the dining room after visiting.

Marks out of 10:

12 for the BBQ, but only 5 for the bathroom, so 5.

Comments to the Management:

Clearly, the broken urinal needs to be fixed. But also, I think someone needs to visit the toilets more than once or twice a day, if nothing else but to mop up all that urine on the floor. Pretty gross, especially considering this is the last impression you're likely making on your guests (since they'll need to go here to wash their hands after their meal and before leaving). I'd hate for the reputation of your amazing, heavenly BBQ to be destroyed by the poor condition of your toilets, because BBQ like that deserves much better. It's so good, really, it deserves sainthood.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Toilets at Little Pee Dee State Farmer's Market Will Have You Seeing Green

Little Pee Dee State Farmer's Market
2513 W. Lucas Street
Florence, SC USA

Where is it?

Drive onto the market grounds and head for the big barn, where most of the stands are (or at least they were upon our visit). Drive through the barn and you'll see two sets of restroom areas along the way, both on the right side of the interior of the barn as you drive through. They look like areas for vending machines but actually accommodate both the toilets and the vending machines.

What's it like?

This large farmer's market area contains several buildings, all of which hold various stands that sell a variety of goods when the place is working at full speed in the summer. Unfortunately, we visited in the winter, so the harvest season was already well over and most of the areas where the stands would normally be were closed.

We did still manage to find some vendors (only about 5) working in the main barn building, which was the only place available to us on the visit. At their stands, we found some excellent apples, sweet potatoes, collard greens, grain, meat and more -- which all turned out to be top-notch in quality. Still, we wondered, after leaving, what the place must look like in full bloom. Drag.

Given that, I visited the first station I crossed inside the barn, not the second, and found them to be quite unique. Not in a good way either, I'm afraid.

The facilities here are made entirely of concrete, from the toilet stalls to the urinal dividers, and the concrete has been painted this sharp lime green that, when coupled with the sting of the fluorescent lighting overheard, give the place an odd tinge that might make you twitch some if you stay in there too long.

Of course, the green color isn't the only oddity here. Fixtures are your standard white porcelain models, but some of the major plumbing hoses, especially those beneath the sinks, are hanging outside the walls some.

Also, the final stall (the place has two toilet stalls, two urinals, two sinks) had walls made partially out of a beige steel divider, while the other stall adjacent to it was all concrete (with a beige steel door). Why the difference? At first, I thought it had something to do with the last stall being the handicap one, but in examining the sizes of both, it seemed to be they were both identical, this didn't really add up.

Then I looked up and found a lone clothes hanger dangling from the door to that back stall. I wondered if this was why the last stall was expanded. Perhaps it doubled as a changing room? But then, I asked myself, who would change their clothes at a farmer's market bathroom? Would farmers do that? Maybe. But then aren't they supposed to set up and break down the booths and repack the items that didn't sell? If so, why would they want to wear anything other than work clothes for that?

Then I thought they wanted to change into decent clothes after their work was finished, which made sense. But upon reflection, that only made me wonder if that meant they were not taking their unsold goods back to a warehouse or storage area after their shift. If that was the case, then where were they taking it? Very strange indeed.

Anyway, that aside, the place has some other oddities as well. For one, there's a sharp chemical smell in here, and by that I don't mean chemical cleaner but pesticide. It's very strong here, and clearly the management here knows about it because there are five or six air fresheners built into the walls, all of them looking very weathered an unproductive.

Finally, and perhaps most disturbing, is the fact that there are profound chemical-like stains inside the sinks. Almost like someone was trying to get rust stains off of metal and decided not to rinse away the agent helping them with that task.

You would expect the place to be cleaned somewhat regularly by the managing offices, which are state run (then again, as evidenced by our recent stops at the Port St. Lucie and Fort Drum service stations in Florida, that means nothing).

So many unanswered questions....... and this was in the slow season. I imagine more mysteries appear in summer, no?

Marks out of 10:

5. Sturdiness of concrete and strange colors and sights aside, taken at face value the place is still somewhat dirty and smelly.

Comments to the Management:

I would suggest more air fresheners, but I'm not sure they would do anything (since the existing ones don't seem to be making a difference). Of course, the place itself is somewhat clean, but then there are those horrid stains in the sink and the smell, and the bits of grime everywhere. Perhaps a higher grade level of cleaner should be used on them -- but then, this is a farmer's market, so you would expect the cleaners used to be pretty tough in the first place. Really, I'm just as perplexed as you are about this place........ At least the produce we got was top-notch, right?

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Toilets at Wake Forrest Chick-fil-A are Teutonic But Clean

11730 Retail Dr.
Wake Forest, NC USA 27587

Where is it?

From the front entrance, turn right and head down the stretch of the dining room that's to the right and behind of the order counter (as opposed to the dining area that has a clear view of the order counter). The bathrooms are in a small enclave at the end of that dining room.

What's it like?

This is a relatively new Chick-fil-A in an up and coming area of Raleigh. As a result, everything here from the dining room to the parking lot looks -- for the most part -- barely used.

The dining room comes filled with booths and cafe tables, and nearly all the seats here are covered in a maroon vinyl that, I'm assuming, is spill-proof. The floors are covered with thick, easy-to-mop tile that's been laid out in a semi-decorative pattern, so that people won't realize right away it's easy to mop. The walls are bare for the most part and the lighting -- much of it coming from the ceiling-high windows lining the perimeter of the dining room -- is inviting, to say the least.

For those who've yet to visit a Chick-fil-A: It's a fast food joint that specializes in fried chicken breast sandwiches. They are decent sandwiches for the price, consisting primarily of whole white meat chicken instead of processed chunks that have been pressed into cutlet shapes, and they best the quality of most chicken sandwiches at more popular chains like McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's. Great for a quick comforting sandwich meal when you're on the go, though certainly nothing to plan a trip around.

The bathrooms, like they are are most American fast food joints (including Jack in the Box and McDonald's, to name a few), are Teutonic but clean. Don't expect much personality here, just the basics; and considering the place is still relatively new, it's yet to have the traditional fast-food-restaurant bathroom wear and tear grime starting to settle in. (Clearly, fast food chain designers have yet to visit our favorite fast food restaurant bathroom, Tacos El Rancho. We hope they do soon, though, so they get an idea of how to lift a bathroom a cut above the standard design.)

Visitors here can expect to find a modestly sized facility. Two urinals, one roomy bathroom stall, one standard white sink, bland grey dividers and stall doors, white tile on the walls, black and gray tile on the floor (again, easy to mop, and it covers mildew stains better than while tile) and no wall decorations.

As mentioned earlier, it's not exactly a place brimming with personality (the only quirk I found was that the automatic paper towel dispenser was placed too closely to the sink, so that each time there was any movement from that area a towel was dispensed), but it's clean and odor free (the only flaw in this was that I found a stranded piece of toilet paper by the commode -- nothing to get excited over, though) and seems well-kept and regularly policed. Like with the food, it's a great place to stop if you're in the neighborhood and can't make it home before the inevitable accident, but it's certainly not worth planning a trip to experience.

Marks out of 10:

7. In the same league as Jack in the Box, really.

Comments to the Management:

The toilets here are what they are, so I'm imagining there isn't much I can say to change things. Given that, you've done what you've done well, and that's about all I can say to that.