By and large, all dine-in restaurants are required by law to have at least one toilet room in their establishment. How and where these toilet rooms are erected are dependent on the set of regulations imposed by the local or national government (including building regulations). There are, nevertheless, irregularity to this requirement opening doors for some establishments to avoid installing a toilet room.
As of today, the creation of a federal bathroom law is still heavily discussed. However, toilet room issues are legislated on both the state and local level. This means that the restroom law in this state can be different from the neighboring one, and so on and so forth.
Do restaurants have the power to prevent individuals from using their toilet room without buying anything?
On the legal side, restaurants are obliged to provide a toilet room for their paying customers. As a reminder, the electricity and water used (and wasted by inconsiderate individuals) are regularly payed by the restaurant, eventually affecting the business itself. Therefore, they have the rights to impose restroom limitations to those who are actually customers of the restaurant.
Most of the times, business establishments put signs on their door or on the wall of the restroom clearly stating “FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY”. Those who wish to use the restroom, but aren’t exactly paying anything, might be held responsible for a fee. And when to fail to oblige to this responsibility, it will be considered shoplifting, where the local police can impose a higher amount of fee.
What are the exceptions?
You may find yourself dining in a restaurant with no available toilet room for public use because there are actually some diners which are exempted in providing a public restroom. Restaurants who are included in this exception include those who offer to take out services, those which have a seating capacity of not more than 20 people, and those which are grandfathered before the law was implemented.
Every restaurant that can prove they serve customers who are taking out are included to the exception, including those who have counter diners, drive-ins, take outs, delivery services, and drive-through.
Restaurants with a limited seating capacity, or the ones that don’t have more than 20 are also exempted. However, they are still required to provide a usable toilet room for their working staff.
Some restaurants are also required to let their customers use the employee’s bathroom, as long as there is no violation of any health code. For example, you can say no to a customer if they have to pass the kitchen to use the bathroom.
Lastly, restaurant establishments who have been operating years before the law was imposed are also not required to provide a public toilet room. Although, there are restaurants who still constructed toilet rooms, of course as an attempt to increase positive feedbacks from the diners.
Are there any construction regulations for customer toilet rooms?
Yes, there are. One of the many important ones is the toilet room must always be clean, personal and not discriminatory. Obviously, they also must have great flushing toilets that can be used just like the porcelain throne from Toto. It must also be accessible by handicapped customers. Also, all toilet rooms must have a certain amount of privacy to allow users to do their business. That means restaurants aren’t allowed to install cameras of any sort inside the facility.