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How to Design a Restaurant Bathroom to Win Your Guests Over

Get your commercial bathroom ideas flowing, from décor to energy-efficient automation and more.

BySara Cifani| Last Updated:09/21/2023
A marble bathroom counter with three ceramic sinks and mirrors.

What Does Your Bathroom Décor Say About Your Restaurant?

Empty toilet paper dispensers, broken partition doors and jammed paper towel distributors are a restaurant patron’s worst nightmare. As an owner, your goal is to make your restroom feel like a temporary retreat. From touching up makeup to snapping a mirror selfie, women spend twice as long in a public restroom as men. With that in mind, it’s important that yours makes a good impression.

We spoke to The National Restaurant Consultants, VONN Lighting, Niagara Conservation, TRUE and the U.S. Green Building Council to find out how to design a restaurant bathroom that will impress your guests.

10 Restaurant Restroom Design and Maintenance Tips to Satisfy Guests

1. Clean Your Bathroom Regularly

First and foremost, your restaurant bathroom needs to be clean and presentable. A dirty restroom can give guests an unsavory image of the kitchen and other areas of your establishment. Automatic air fresheners and nicely scented cleaning products make a big difference, too.

Train your staff or cleaning crew on proper cleaning techniques and implement a cleaning checklist to:

  • Make sure the floor is clean.
  • Wipe down countertops and faucets.
  • Repair or block off any broken toilets.
  • Restock paper products, soap dispensers, etc.
  • Empty trash cans and take bags to your restaurant dumpster.
A janitor cleans the sinks of a bathroom.
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Pro Tip

Although it may seem like a no-brainer, displaying an “Employees must wash hands before returning to work” sign shows guests you’ve trained your staff to make cleanliness a priority.

A modern bathroom featuring a 21st-century rustic look.

2. Match Bathroom Design with Your Restaurant Décor

If your dining space is painted in warm and inviting hues, entering a stark white bathroom can be off-putting for guests. Make sure your bathroom complements the rest of your décor to make your guests feel at home throughout their experience.

National Restaurant Consultants logo.
David Kincheloe, President | National Restaurant Consultants

“The most important room of the restaurant is the women’s restroom, so we go to great lengths to make it very nice. Operationally, we make great efforts to instill in the staff how important it is to keep it clean because when women go to the restroom they imagine what it reflects on the kitchen, so that is extremely important.”

3. Add Automated Hand-Washing

Ever thought about how many germs are looming on the soap dispenser? Puts a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? Minimize the number of surfaces patrons need to touch by installing hands-free faucets, soap dispensers and hand-drying stations.

And make sure you carry these efforts all the way to the bathroom door. “A lot of people don’t want to open the door with the handle,” said Kincheloe. “Place a trash receptacle right near it so people can toss their paper towels out as they’re leaving.”

A commercial bathroom sink with automatic faucet and soap dispenser.
A door to a bathroom showing a doorhandle with deadbolt locking mechanism.

4. Make Privacy a Priority

Privacy is key to making your guests feel comfortable in your restroom. Make sure all locks latch completely. Choose stall doors that minimize sightlines and install adequate partitions for urinals. Some restaurants even use wooden doors for each stall to create a truly individual space.

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5. Invest in Water-Efficient Toilets

When guests have trouble flushing, it leaves the next patron with a bad experience. Installing toilets with a strong flush, large water spot and elongated bowl will help keep a clean appearance. When replacing toilets, consider a water-efficient model to cut your water bill and help the environment.

A row of toilet stalls in a commercial bathroom.
Niagara Conservation logo.
Matt Voorhees, Director of Wholesale | Niagara Conservation

“Use fixtures that not only look good but save you money. Technology is advancing for low-flow toilets and the product quality is better and better each year. Pair a toilet with a strong flush and low water consumption with water-saving faucets and cut your monthly usage exponentially.”

A sign informing customers of the energy efficient lighting in the bathroom.

6. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting

Most restaurant restrooms don’t have windows, so lighting makes all the difference. To save money on electric bills, consider switching to LED lighting. Taking extra steps to minimize energy use will not only help boost your eco-friendly image, but keep money in your pocket.

VONN Lighting logo.
Serge Magarik, CEO & Founder | VONN Lighting

“You need to have a light fixture that is constantly functional, so you can’t depend on the performance of a traditional lightbulb. Number one, you can’t change it in the middle of dining hours. And number two, it’s aesthetics — LEDs are slim, sleek, modern and serve all purposes from design, efficiency and maintenance.”

7. Hang Large Mirrors to Open Up the Space

Your guests spend more time looking into your bathroom mirrors than you think, whether they’re sprucing up for a first date or an anniversary dinner. Hang large mirrors to make the bathroom mirror-check enjoyable. This can also help a small restaurant bathroom appear larger. Bonus points if you hang a full-length mirror.

A commercial bathroom featuring multiple sink-to-ceiling mirrors.
A GFI electrical outlet in a bathroom.

8. Maximize Space with Building Codes in Mind

When working with an architect or designer, you’ll want to design your restaurant to fit as many seats as possible. At times, this can limit the amount of bathroom space available. Make sure to work with a builder that is familiar with occupancy regulations and compliance issues related to the number of toilets per regular occupant in your area. These factors are especially important for new construction.

National Restaurant Consultants logo.
David Kincheloe, President | National Restaurant Consultants

“The goal of a restaurant is to get as many seats in as you can. When it comes to how big your bathroom is, we try to lay it out with the least amount of square footage possible to meet all the requirements.”

9. Make Your Bathroom Accessible for Everyone

From cell phones and wallets to purses and jackets, your guests have their hands full – and nobody wants to set their stuff on the restroom floor. A few installations can make your restaurant bathroom more convenient. Hooks on the inside of stall doors make it easy for guests to hang belongings and flat toilet paper roll holders can act as stands for cell phones and wallets.

More importantly, make sure your commercial restroom complies with ADA requirements. Generally, a single wheelchair must be able to rotate within your bathroom and at least one stall should be handicap-accessible with a grab bar.

A sign outside a bathroom announcing it is a family restroom with handicap accessibility.
An automatic hand dryer in a bathroom.

10. Consider Going Zero-Waste in Your Restaurant Bathroom

Guests notice when you’re running an eco-friendly restaurant. From composting paper towels to installing hand dryers, there are many steps you can take to make your restroom less wasteful. Consider using the TRUE Rating System from the U.S. Green Building Council, which aims to reduce your carbon footprint, support public health and encourage a zero-waste economy. You can even take it a step further and become LEED certified.

TRUE logo.
Stephanie Barger, Director of Market Transformation | TRUE

“A great way to reduce energy consumption is by doing an assessment of the products you’re currently using. More often than not, your vendors can provide you with options that are more energy efficient, such as LED light bulbs and appliances. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system is a great tool that guides restaurants through the process and provides third-party verification of design, construction and maintenance practices.”

Ready to Design Your Restaurant Bathroom?

Finding creative ways to appeal to diners will keep your restaurant growing. Not only will you satisfy current guests, but many of these sustainable switches can help attract new customers and even cut costs.

Expert Contributors

National Restaurant Consultants logo.

David Kincheloe

David is the President of the National Restaurant Consultants, a start-up and troubleshooting group that helps restaurants in need nationwide. When not busy with the NRC, he keeps busy running Denver-based KBW Development, a company he has owned for over 20 years.

Niagara Conservation logo.

Matt Voorhees

Matt is the Director of Wholesale for Niagara Conservation, a worldwide producer of water- and energy-efficient products. The company is based in Flower Mound, TX. Niagara Conservation's goal is to make efficient products available to the world.

VONN Lighting logo.

Serge Magarik

Serge leads Miami-based manufacturer and distributor of LED light fixtures called VONN Lighting. He founded the company in September of 2015 and serves as the company's CEO.

TRUE logo.

Stephanie Barger

Stephanie is in charge of the growth and development of the TRUE program, a position she's held for nearly a decade. TRUE is a part of the Washington D.C.-based Green Business Certification Inc. As Director of Market Transformation & Development, Stephanie works to provide educational resources, networking opportunities and certification for businesses nationwide.

Other Sources

Researchers study lengths of restroom queues. (2017, July 17). Retrieved from phys.org

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