One of the most necessary rooms of any brewery is often the one that is overlooked. The toilet should be high on the list of architectural focus when planning out a taproom or when considering a remodel. The beer served over the bar top, after all, is only temporarily with patrons.
“For a lot of the original breweries in the country, the ones in warehouse space or garages, the bathroom was an afterthought,” says T. Dustin Hauck of Hauck Architecture in San Diego, a firm that specializes in brewery projects. “The industry has changed and now that room is a representation of the brand and having it done right can attract a diversity of clientele.”
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So aside from the necessary equipment, what should be considered when creating a memorable experience during a short stop?
“The number one thing is cleanliness,” says Hauck. “Make sure it’s always clean and maintained.”
That should go without saying, but we’ve all been to places that have forgotten this golden rule. Lighting is also important. Hauck suggests having at least two settings. One being super bright that allows cleaning staff to “see very corner and nook and cranny” when in there, and a second setting that is a little softer and more natural that can create a “calm” atmosphere.
Delicate air fresheners can also be helpful for olfactory engagement but breweries should avoid using scented soaps to that could interfere with a beer’s aroma when patrons return to a table.
The number of stalls is determined by local building code, but Hauck says that when budgeting and space allows it is smart to add a few more.
“People standing in line for the toilet are people who are not buying beer,” he says.
And don’t forget to include outdoor seating capacity when factoring in the number of stalls.
The all-gender bathroom concept has become popular with individual stalls that completely close and communal sinks. Making sure there is a flow for people to get easily in and out without bunching up is important as well.
There should also be staff bathrooms which allow brewers, bartenders, chefs, and others their own space for privacy.
Ultimately a bathroom should be an extension of a taproom concept, says Hauck. It shouldn’t feel clinical like a lab or an airport restroom. A little personality can go a long way. There are nice tile options that won’t break a budget and paying attention to fixtures – brushed metal looks a little nicer and can clean up better than shinier versions- and wall art will make people feel welcome during their brief stay.
“A bathroom should reflect a brand,” says Hauck. “Don’t go for barebones, really get something that reflects the business and can be an interesting space. Customers will judge a brewery by its bathroom and a good or bad experience can change a consumer’s perspective.”