Woman sent bill for using restaurant bathroom

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NBC Today – by Laura T. Coffey

When you gotta go, you gotta go — but, of course, most restaurants only want paying customers to use their restrooms. One restaurant in Tennessee opted to take this issue to a whole new level by charging fees for non-paying potty use.

Patricia Barnes recently rushed into a restaurant called The Flood Zone in Erin, Tenn., and asked a woman behind the counter if she could use the bathroom. She got permission and quietly did her business.

A few days later, she received a handwritten note from the restaurant in the mail. Barnes was stunned.

“I don’t feel it was a crime,” she said. “I’ve been into plenty of restaurants here in this town and other towns, and, you know, other states.”

Courtesy Patricia Barnes

This is the letter Patricia Barnes says she received from the restaurant.

The note mentioned a sign that specifically states the restaurant would charge a $5 fee to anyone who isn’t a customer. Barnes said she didn’t see the note until an employee approached her after she left the restroom.

“It was a little index card at the very bottom of the mirror.  I didn’t look in the mirror at all that day,” Barnes said.

The restaurant’s owner tracked Barnes down by writing down her vehicle license plate and having the sheriff trace it to its owner. (The bill was addressed to “Mrs. Edwards;” Barnes’ husband’s name is Randy Edwards.)

“I just thought it was unbelievable,” she said. “I’m like, what type of people are these?”

Barnes went back to the restaurant and offered to pay the $5, but the owners refused. She then mailed them a certified money order, but that came back. The owner apparently changed her mind about the bill, saying she only wanted to make a point.

Thursday on TODAY, celebrity chef and restaurant owner Bobby Flay called the incident “totally ridiculous.”

Having members of the public come into your establishment only to use the restroom is “just part of doing business,” he said. It also shows good will on the part of the owner.

“There’s plenty of people that come to the restaurant, use the bathroom and leave, and that’s the way it goes,” Flay said.

Al Roker said he thought involving the sheriff was “crazy,” not to mention an invasion of privacy.

Natalie Morales called it a “waste of resources for that town.”


18 thoughts on “Woman sent bill for using restaurant bathroom

  1. Yea, I used to work at a greasy spoon type restaurant that was like this one in Colfax, Wi. Them type of restaurants – as far as I have experienced – would use road kill on their main menu as long as they didn`t get caught they are so damned cheap. Screw these type of establishments, especialy restaurants.

  2. A business is a Private enterprise not a public service. It is entirely the right of the owner to not have to pay for supplies or clean up after non-customers.

    She didn’t look in the mirror? They’re usually right above the sink where you wash your hands.

    1. Chicken shit. If this were a restaurant in the town I live in, I would see it run out of business. All businesses operate at the leave of the people. To tell someone they couldn’t use the bathroom, I would have pissed on them and let them see if they had what it takes to collect $5 from me.

      1. And that is exactly what I think too Henry. Like I said in my reply above @ 2:09, they are so cheap it would make me wonder just what they are serving up for their daily menu specials.

    1. Because a sheriff was used to trace the owner of a number plate over using a bathroom. if you don’t think that is wrong then…

  3. Long ago many public restrooms in private establishments had coin operated doors, requiring you to insert a nickel if you wanted to use the stall.
    They were made illegal, and subsequently disappeared, but unless that law was repealed, I think it would probably cover the actions of the restaurant here, and that’s possibly why the owner decided not to charge her.

    I don’t know why the Sheriff ever got involved in tracking this woman down for a private individual, because that’s probably illegal too, but it may have been he who informed the restaurant owner that he could wind up in court for charging her.

    My personal policy is to leave a puddle close by whenever I’m not allowed to use a public restroom. I’m certainly not wetting my pants, so where do you want it? On the floor or in the bowl?

  4. …in the “Internet World”…these people are idiots …as word of this will spread like wildfire….I taught business management all over the world, and this is one of the most small-minded, short-term, idiotic rules…and enforcement of rules that I’ve ever heard of… what a short term way of looking at your guests, and insulting them…as well as using government agencies to collect your stupid five bucks….how embarrassing? When I called the place and asked if it cost to use the toilets…they hung up on me…Ha!


    RJ O’Guillory
    Webster Groves-The Life of an Insane Family

  5. The old ‘bag of sh#t on fire’ in front of the entrance would probably make a worthwhile statement.

    Be sure to videotape whoever comes to stomp it out.

    Then post it on YouTube.

  6. if she was a celebrity or well known person would they had done that! Would they had got her limo license plate no# No! They would been busy take pictures and autographs five dollar won’t been a issue nor would got a letter in mail!

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