Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ruby Tuesday, Carousel Mall

9613 Carousel Center, Syracuse, NY 13290
Grade: B

While not unpleasant, the Carousel Mall Ruby Tuesday men's room is shrug-inducing at best. Some decorative wall and floor tiles dress up what is otherwise a very ordinary bathroom, including manual paper towel dispenser (no hand dryers), pump soap dispensers and manual flushing toilets. The urinals are automatic, and in fact are extremely sensitive - I walked a good distance by one and it flushed. This could be a good thing (you won't have to touch anything to get it to flush) or a bad thing (you may have to explain to your date why you have water all over your crotch... but then you might want to explain why you took her to Ruby Tuesday as well).

I've been writing about tiles nonstop at work for the past two days and I've learned way more about them than I ever thought I would. I wonder what the P.E.I. rating, C.O.F. and water absorption are for these ones. Probably II, .50 and semi-vitreous, respectively. Psh. They could do a lot better.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Westcott Theater

524 Westcott St., Syracuse, NY 13210
Grade: D

I saw an episode of Judge Judy a few days ago in which a woman was suing a man for throwing up on her and ruining her dress. The woman was in attendance at a show by the man's band. She had never heard of the band, and just figured she would stop in to check it out. Midway through the set, the man reached down from the stage offered her his hand. She climbed up with him, excited to be so involved. Then, without warning, he hurled all over her. She was, of course, very upset and felt that he should pay for her ruined dress. His defense was that she should have known that he was going to throw up on her because it was a regular part of the band's act, as depicted on the flyers for the show. The venerable Judge said that, a) she would never personally attend one of this guy's shows, but even if she did, b) she would not divine from a poster depicting said man throwing up that she would herself be thrown up upon. Judgement for the plaintiff in the amount of...

What I'll say about the Westcott Theater's bathroom is that I could easily see an outraged, vomit-covered woman cleaning herself off at the sink. Granted, I'm not sure why she would be in the men's room. But still. Everything is run down and broken, with grime embedded so deep in the cracks I doubt the place could ever be clean. The stalls are a sickly split pea color. It's a hole. But is that why you're there?

By the way: I was there to see Usury, who put on a very good show (check out his Myspace page).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Regal Cinemas Shoppingtown Mall 14, DeWitt

3649 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse, NY 13214
Grade: B+

Okay. I consider this to be a somewhat family-friendly blog. I want a diverse variety of readers to be able to get enjoyment from it. If this blog were a film, it would most likely garner a PG to a PG-13 rating, depending on daily subject (we are, after all, talking about bathrooms here).

That said, do not click on the Google maps address link above if you are easily offended. I searched for the address to link to, like I do with all of my posts. It just so happens that a fairly hilarious, one-sentence, poorly punctuated and capitalized review for this movie theater (specifically, oddly enough, its restroom) was posted on July 11, 2010 by someone named Dan. So if you are of the sort who appreciates an R-rated laugh every now and then, feel free to click on that link and click on "reviews." I don't know how these things happen. I just write about them.

Also, I'm not certain whether said review is a statement of fact or just a lame joke. Therefore, I will not let it affect my review of this men's room.

Rest assured that my review is much less graphic. This is a fairly nice men's room with Xlerator hand dryers, disposable toilet seat covers, automatic sinks, auto-flushing toilets and urinals and a unique color scheme. The only thing holding it back, really, is a distinct feeling of cheapness that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I suppose everything feels just a little too artificial; it almost feels cartoonish in its attempts to be bright and lively. It immediately struck me as how a bathroom in Mega Man Legends might have looked, if there were bathrooms in that game. Peep the last image below to see what I'm talking about.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Olive Garden, DeWitt

3147 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse, NY 13214
Grade: A-


Look, I'll just go ahead and say it: supremely unhealthy mega-corporate chain restaurants tend to have amazing restrooms. Sue me. They've got the money and the high-minded designers to pull it off. They have tons of customers and care very much about their image. No matter how you feel about supporting local business (which I try to do as often as possible) instead of these monsters, you've got to admit that you enjoy a comfortable, posh bathroom, no matter where it is.

So sure Olive Garden's men's room is filled with sterile corporate detail: marble countertops, faux-Tuscan decorative wall and floor tiles, black and white photos of Italian architecture and people, wooden stall dividers, a golden frame around the mirror. But you know what? It works. It's clean, comfortable and, though cheesy, classy enough. The toilets and urinals automatically flush. The sink hardware gleams. The counter was fairly covered with water, but it was a Friday night when I visited.

My guess is that every single Olive Garden you might visit in this country would have the same exact restroom. The layout of the DeWitt restaurant is, after all, identical to those of the Monroeville and Greentree locations outside of Pittsburgh. But at least while they are slowly killing us with refined carbohydrates and cheese sauces, stealing customers from locally owned business, and contributing to the general homogenization and blandness of American culture, they are giving us some great bathrooms in the process.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Anthony's Pasta Bar

126 East Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13202
Grade: B-

Anthony's unisex restroom is small but nice enough. The walls are painted a cream color, and the cappuccino artwork is fitting. There are wooden floors and an incredibly effective raspberry air freshener sitting on the back of the toilet. The soap dispenser is empty, but there is a pump bottle sitting on the sink. Water temperature control is decent.

There are a few cosmetic issues with the bathroom that are holding it back, such as an exposed electrical fitting hanging from the ceiling and some unsightly plumbing. The biggest problem, though, is the door. The lock in the knob is busted, and a small latch that fits into a hole drilled in the frame is the substitute. The fit is a little off, though, and the door does not close firmly.

Also: there is a long, narrow, somewhat creepy hallway leading back to the restroom.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches

103 Marshall St., Syracuse, NY 13210
Grade: B

When I review a men's room with a locking door, I tend to take far too many photographs. I'm so used to sneaking around in public restrooms trying to get some shots off when no one is around that I go a little crazy when I'm able to. This review - for a small Jimmy's John's bathroom with nothing particularly exceptional about it - has nine pictures. Goodness gracious.

It's a clean little bathroom with some nice tiling, above average floor detail and quirky wall accoutrements to set it apart. The sink is manual and drains a little slow, but it provides good temperature control. Manual soap dispenser (with orange liquid soap) and paper towel dispenser. All of the facilities are modern and in good working order. The lack of a urinal is a bit of a drawback, especially since, upon closer inspection, I found some liquids remaining on the toilet seat. I feel that the sign on the wall might expound on this issue, but it's in German. I tried "bitte im sitzen pilken" on and it came up with "please in that sit pee." This is very funny. Anyway, it would be nice to not have to lift the seat.

There is a little bit of graffiti scratched into the upper right hand corner of the mirror, but it's not entirely noticeable or bothersome.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Target, Fairmount

3657 West Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13219
Grade: B+

Wow. Target stepped its game up. Actually, I'm not sure if that's accurate. I don't think I've ever actually been inside a Target men's room to even compare against this one. Has anyone? Ever? Usually, I am too busy being completely captivated by the vast array of stationary and faux-antique wicker laundry bins to pay my bodily functions any mind. Usually, I just stalk through the aisles doing my Steve Martin from "The Jerk" thing: "I need this... I need this..."

Anyway, let's just say I was surprised. The men's room is clean with bright lights and extremely modern decor in the standard Target/White Stripes (I wonder what their bathroom is like?) white and red color scheme. There is an insanely-polished chrome Xlerator dryer (peep the Steelers tee and Nike Air Maxes vividly reflected in the pic below) and the same urinal bowls (though not auto-flushing) found in the well-reviewed Fairmount Panera. Perhaps the entire shopping center got some sort of tax credit by buying these in bulk.

The sink basins and fixtures are stainless steel, and the water is automatic. There was one horribly clogged toilet (not pictured for your health), though I will consider this an anomaly.

In general, the restroom looks something like THX-1138:

Except nothing like that. It looks more like:


As a bonus, I did find an image of the actual THX-1138 bathrooms:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Empire Brewing Co.

120 Walton St., Syracuse, NY 13202
Grade: B+

Considering that the stairway down to the Empire Brewing Co. simulates an NYC subway entrance, the restaurant's men's room is actually quite nice. There is a certain subterranean atmosphere, but it is more that of a cool cave than a sleazy underworld.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was the smell of chlorine bleach, which is not at all a bad smell considering the potential alternatives. The overhead lighting is low, and the walls are a deep metallic bronze color. The floor-length urinal reminds one of relieving himself in a frigid underground creek, watching the steam rise as the liquids meet. The stall and urinal divider are stainless steel, though they could use a bit of polishing. The sink and soap dispenser are standard and manual, but an Xlerator dryer - instantly dissolving moisture like a sudden daft between cracks in the fungi-covered rock - is thrown in for good measure.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sterling Renaissance Fair

15385 Farden Rd., Sterling, NY 13156
Grade: D-

Most everything at the Sterling Renaissance Festival is renaissance- (or, more accurately, medieval-, or, sometimes even more accurately, fantasy-) themed. Grown men and women walk around in cloaks and kilts and chains and jewels. People have swords strapped to their backs or hips. You can throw tomatoes at a guy who in turn hurls insults at you. You can purchase full-sized turkey legs to eat. They sell soda, but it is referred to as something along the lines of "non-mead sweet drinks." There is magic and jousting. It is, in short, totally awesome.

That said, the restrooms drop the ball. Big time. The Renaissance Festival is made up of permanent structures; its huts and pubs and stands are around all year. So why would the bathrooms not be themed as well? A quick Google search of "medieval bathrooms" yields the following results:

Any one of these examples, no matter how filthy or dysfunctional, would have been amazing. Instead, we're teased with this promising sign...

...only to be treated with an awful, disgusting, ordinary, non-themed, almost completely non-functioning men's room. The soap dispensers do not work and are instead replaced with pump-bottles, which are of course soaking wet and gross from the sheer number of people who pass through. The automatic hand dryers do not work. It smells, quite frankly, awful.

The one redeeming feature is the costumed restroom attendant, though he seemed to simply stand outside of the door and not actually do anything. I do not have a photograph of him because I would have been obligated to tip him, and I wasn't about to tip him for standing there with a basket and saying "Thank ye, good sir."

If it helps, you can use the porta-johns that are set up along some of the pathways. They are actually much cleaner and probably simulate medieval bathrooms a little more closely.