Monday 14 April 2008

Marathon Grill Toilet's Is Tight But Offers a Lot for Such a Little Space

Marathon Grill
121 S 16th St
Philadelphia, PA USA 19102

Where is it?

This cozy establishment comes split into two sections: A main dining room and a bar area, with an open kitchen lining the back wall and unifying the two spaces. The entrance places you at the back of the dining room, with the open kitchen (and a takeout counter) to your right. To get to the restrooms, follow the kitchen (keeping it to your right) counter to the back of the opposite wall (and into the bar). Once there, you'll notice a small hallway wrapping around the back of the kitchen -- the toilets are there.

What's it like?

The dining room of this upscale neighborhood eatery features plenty of wood and golden lighting and lots of broad windows (for people watching), and combined the decor gives the place a familiar yet chic feel. The menu here is extensive, including a variety of comfort dishes and sandwiches along with various Asian-inspired and other fusion-based dishes.

On the whole, the kitchen puts out some decent, well-priced fair -- which is pretty much what you want from a neighborhood spot. The bar has a bit of a more upscale feel to it, with glass shelving housing various decorative items, flat-screen TVs and a decent beer selection, which makes it perfect for an after-work drink.

The toilets here are small, almost European-inspired, and in practice they reminded me a lot of the Greek Flame Taverna toilets in Winter Park, FL. Though it should be said that these are much more stylish and ambitious than than those.

They cover an area about the size of two airplane bathrooms combined and pack in several items in that small space: a toilet, shelf for towels, sink, handicapped railing and more. It's quite a tight fit, to say the least, and those needing to maneuver some many have difficulty doing so in these tight quarters.

While many places would be content to just offer the basics in such a crammed in environment, the toilets here do aim a little higher. The walls are covered with stylish white tile work. The sink and towel shelf are both stainless steel and half-sized, as if it were there to conserve space, creating a sort of slick minimalist effect. Lighting is supplied by a wrought iron fixture that looks like a cross between a hip lamp and one of those lights used by miners to illuminate tunnels. The combined effect adds some serious style to a space that essentially is very claustrophobic.

Unfortunately, while these touches certainly improve the visit, they don't necessary take away from that cave-like feel, especially for longer visits. Also, as you might expect, there was some spilled water and urine on the floor (no doubt a result of the tight fit here), and some mis-thrown towels (which I would assume wouldn't be as much of a problem because of a limited space, but then I guess we all can't be Larry Bird, right?).

Marks out of 10:

7. Not perfect, but not bad either. And the decorative touches certainly improved the experience. Still, it's a small space and you never forget that while you're here.

Comments to the Management:

I really like the design of the place, especially the tile work. It could be lit a little brighter though and a bit of art could be added to the walls, just to take away from the slight claustrophobia you get while you're inside. Also, if you can, try to visit the toilets and mop up the floor a couple times a day. I have a feeling this place is a bit hard to maintain, considering that it's very small and located in the very back corner of the restaurant, but it couldn't hurt to try.

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