A restroom is more than just a restroom if said restroom is in a restaurant. There, it can be a crystal ball.
Bill Wharton, a spokesman for Public Health — Dayton and Montgomery County, said the appearance of and the smells that come out of a restaurant’s water closet can say a lot about the food and bacteria that could be coming out of its kitchen.
“If you walk in and the carpets are dirty and there is no upkeep in the customer area, that is sometimes an indication that there are things in the kitchen and the rest of the house that are dirty,” he said. “The cleanliness of the seating area and the bathroom is sometimes an indication of the cleanliness of the rest of the restaurant.”
Consumers have obvious reservations about food sanitation when they come across dirty bathrooms.
Two-thirds of people who took part in a recent Clorox Professional Products survey said they would refuse to patronize restaurants or hotels with dirty restrooms.
More than half said they would likely give a business a negative online or offline review if it had a nasty restroom.
That can impact an eatery’s bottomline.
A 2011 Harvard Business School study showed that Yelp.com, an online user review site mostly about restaurants, can make a big impact for independent restaurants.
A one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue, the study found.
Wharton said the care an establishment takes in keeping things tidy can give hints about how much it takes care while handling food.
And as we all know, how food is handled is very important.
Each year, one in six people in the United States — about 48 million people — get sick from eating contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Forty-eight percent of food-borne disease outbreaks were caused by food consumed in a restaurant or deli and 21 percent by food consumed in a private home.
Wharton urges those with concerns about the health and safety practices at area restaurants to contact his office at (937) 225-4364.
“We will go out and do an investigation,” Wharton said.
Here are five indications — none of them scientific — that a restaurant might be nasty:
That wet mop smell
While it is great that the floor is mopped, that distinct wet mop smell is a sign that the water the floor was mopped with was less than clean. Run, don’t walk to the next eatery.
Visible large scab
Restaurant work can be dangerous and I sympathize. There are cuts and there are burns. That said, there is something particularly problematic with seeing someone with a cartoonishly large scab or/and open wound handling food.
I do not care how great the chicken wings or burgers may be, do not turn a blind eye if you see pests — any pests. Vermin likely eat at the restaurant more often than humans and could probably recommend a good dish.
As a rule, you want to clean your plate, but you do not want to stick to your chair.
Lipstick on your glass
Your drinking glass shouldn’t be how you learn about MAC’s new lipstick colors.
Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth