Today Show: Woman Charged $5 for Using Restroom at Restaurant


Today Show: Women Charged $5 For Using Restroom

Have you ever needed to use the bathroom so badly you burst past the sign reading “Restroom For Customers Only” on the front door of a restaurant? Nearly everyone has done it once in their life and Patricia Barnes is no different. Her circumstances, however, are probably a bit different from what you might have experienced.

Barnes never thought it would be a big deal if she ran inside a restaurant to use their restroom. So she entered the Flood Zone where she asked an employee if she could use the restroom, to which the employee said “sure.” After exiting the restroom, another employee told her she would need to pay $5 for using the bathroom because she wasn’t buying anything. The employee then proceeded to point out a small notecard which said any non-paying customer of the restaurant would pay $5 for the use of the restroom.


Today Show: Woman Charged $5 for Using Restroom at Restaurant

The Today Show talked with a woman who used a restroom at a restaurant she was not eating at and the owner charged her $5 because she didn’t buy anything.

Thinking no harm had been done, Barnes told the employee she didn’t see the notecard and she left. A few days later, Barnes received a handwritten letter from the owner of the Flood Zone which said she needed to pay the $5. It turns out the owner of the restaurant wrote down her license plate and the sheriff in the town used his resources to find her home address.

Fed up with the nonsense, Barnes tried to pay the $5 but the restaurant wouldn’t accept it and then when she sent a money order, the restaurant sent it back saying they didn’t want the money, they just wanted to make a point. The Today Show talked with the owner who told them the sign and the cost of using the bathroom is to prevent people from vandalizing the restrooms.


Today Show: Should People Be Charged To Use Restrooms?

The Today Show wanted an expert opinion on the story so they asked restauranteur Bobby Flay what he thought about the incident. Flay told them it was ridiculous. It is part of a public business and if it happens, then it happens. He said when he does something similar he will order a drink and then use the bathroom as they get his drink ready. When he comes out he pays the $1 or so and leaves.

Savannah Guthrie said she just uses her kids as an excuse to use the bathroom if she has to go that badly. Finally, to get even more opinions about the ordeal, the Today Show made a poll asking if it is okay to use the bathroom at a restaurant you are not eating at. Seventy percent of the people surveyed said it wasn’t a big deal.

What do you think? Should she have been charged the $5 or should the restaurant not worry about customers using their restrooms? Let us know in the comments.



  1. Dan Koc says

    Everyone that’s reading this has used a restroom in a business or restaurant. Everyone has to use the restroom multiple times per day. Nothing annoys a person more than to see signs that state “No public restroom” or “Bathrooms are for paying customers only”. These statements are as ridiculous as “Oxygen is for our patrons use only” or “Each 6 cubic foot space is designated for customer use only” or “Heating and air conditioning for paying customers only”. When will laws be created that state “If you operate a public facility (store or restaurant) the owner MUST provide restroom facilities which are handicap capable for anyone’s use.” This is a cost of doing business. It’s as common as having to supply light, heat, air conditioning and communications.
    I’m happy to say that here in Western NY, Erie county laws require businesses to have male and female restrooms which are handicap accessible. Thank God! Our tax dollars at work.

    As I mentioned, we all need to go to the bathroom multiple times per day. If you stopped at the house of an acquaintance and asked to use the bathroom, how would you feel if you were told NO?
    One might have to walk outside and pee on the front porch or next to a bush. Maybe if enough individuals pee on the front steps of businesses, the owners will get the message.

    Send comments to:
    Flood Zone Restaurant will not allow use of the restroom
    140 Joseph Lane
    Cumberland City, TN 37050-4374
    Phone:(931) 289-5848
    Open 11am to 9pm

    Author: A business owner, who allows the use of our 4 bathrooms, in the Buffalo, NY area

  2. Gary Wilson says

    A restaurant is not a public space, it is privately owned. A city park. for instance, is a public place.

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