Wednesday, July 8

4th of July in Review

My family was on the hunt for fun and frugal activities this 4th of July. We were happy to find events at Dublin Park and Bridge Street Town Centre.

Our first stop of the day was Dublin Park. The kids were excited to see inflatables that included a water slide and vendors that sold snacks that were reasonably priced. They kicked their shoes off and ran to their inflatable of choice. The baby and I headed for the canopy area where seating was provided. We were able to watch the kids and had plenty of room to run. We didn't last long though because the heat made the slides and obstacle courses hot to the touch. Our final thought on this was that we wished it were a cooler day so that we could enjoy the fun longer. It was another great community event provided by Madison City Parks and Rec.

Next we headed to Lowe's for a while where we planned projects for later this year and next spring (in free air conditioning). No trip to a store is complete with out one trip to the restroom and I have to say that I wish department stores kept their restrooms half as clean. They had plenty of hand soap, towels, and the restroom looked, smelled and felt clean. The customer service was top notch as always.

Our final destination of the day was Bridge Street Town Centre. We began at Barnes & Noble where we browsed through the books and the little ones played with the train. I was blessed to have three trips to the restroom at this stop in our day. This restroom was pretty clean however there was an odor that I felt could have been alleviated by removing the trash and utilizing an automatic air freshener. We were starting to get hungry so we left B&N to find some inexpensive food.

We ended up eating outside near the Gondola and Paddle Boat rentals (we really wanted to do this but couldn't justify the expense). We all enjoyed the food at Sakoa Japan Grill. The only thing that was irksome was when I asked to get a new drink because the iced tea wasn't "right". It tasted old/too strong.. but whatever the description was I just couldn't drink it. The lady argued with me and had her associates try it in front of me and they tried to tell me I was wrong (one guy did say that it seemed a bit strong). I wouldn't budge and was able to get a clean cup. But what happened to the saying that the customer is always right?

And now's the time for my opinion of Bridge Street's ONE (per gender) public restroom. This truly should be an embarrassment to an upscale shopping centre. It stinks, water is always puddled on the floor and you don't know if it's leaking from the toilets (my poor sister in law had that happen to her just last week) or if it's from the kids who were enjoying the sprinklers. I just can't say anything else except I only use these restrooms when extremely necessary. I'll walk down to Barnes & Noble or wait until I'm in Red Robin or the Monaco.

After dinner we passed by the single inflatable that was pay per jump. This was very disappointing because last year they had 4 or 5 inflatables that were available and they asked for donations to benefit a local charity. We later learned that the proceeds from this year did end up benefiting a child advocacy program but that was not clearly stated until just before the fireworks began.

So we strolled up to near the stage and enjoyed live music while the kids found another family that wisely packed games and glow sticks for the kids. I've made a mental note for next year. The weather had cooled off and the breeze was amazing. The music was great and in no time we were enjoying an awesome fireworks display.

So we spent less than $20 and had an enjoyable 4th of July. How was yours?

Final Score:
Bridge Street Town Centre: 3 stars (fix the bathrooms)
4th of July Celebration at Bridge Stret Town Centre: 3.5 stars
Sakoa Japan Grill: 3 stars
Barnes & Noble: 3.75 stars
Dublin Park: 3.5 stars

Newks Express Cafe: Huntsville
4925 University Dr., Suite 190
Phone: 256-430-9662
Fax: 256-430-9664
Sun - Wed: 11:00 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Thur - Sat: 11 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Madison County Health Department Rating: 96 on 9/17/2008

Menu Options: Soups, Salads (HUGE), Personal Pizzas, Specialty Sandwiches
Target Audience: Lunch crowd was overwhelmingly professional workers
Decor: Casual Contemporary
Bar: No - Bottled Beer and Wine available
Childrens Menu: Sandwiches (the large roll used to make your sandwich is the same they will use to make little Johnny's sandwich) and Pizzas
Parking: Shared with strip mall
Price range of Entrees: $6 - $10
Note worthy: Grab n Go (To Go counter with quick prep selections), "Round Table" Condiment Bar, Sweet Tea with Splenda, Food Prep visible to guests, lots of seating

Bottom Line:
Cleanliness: 5 stars
Taste: 4 stars
Speed of Service: 4 stars
Server: 3 stars
- counter service with food delivered to your table
Wait for table: 5 stars - seat yourself
Restrooms: 5 stars (men's and ladies' room)
kid friendly: 3 stars - not impressed with the "grilled cheese", they do have a changing table in the ladies room

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers: Bridge Street
365 The Bridge Street, Suite 113
Huntsville, AL 35805
Sun-Thu: 11a-10p, Fri-Sat: 11a-11p
Madison County Health Department Rating: 91 on 9/15/2008

Menu Options: Burgers, Pasta, Salads, Sandwiches/Wraps, and a few chicken and fish entrees
Target Audience: Families
Decor: Whimsical Americana
Bar: Yes, full service with 7 beers on tap
Childrens Menu: 9 entree and 6 side options with a price rang of 3.99 - 4.79 (including drink)
Parking: Shared with mall
Price range of Entrees: 8.79 and up
Note worthy: Bottomless Steakfries, Gourmet Burgers, All you can drink freckled lemonade, TV in ground of waiting area, balloons for kids of all ages, management very attentive.

Bottom Line:
Cleanliness: 3 stars - The restaurant was great however the cleanliness was dangerous in the ladies room.
Taste: 4 stars
Speed of Service: 5 stars

Server: 5 stars
Wait for table: 5 stars

Restrooms: 2 stars - The restroom floors were so slippery I was concerned that my daughter would fall. I brought this to the managers attention immediately and he had an associate come in as I was helping my daughter was her hands. The associate did mention that this happens a lot when the stall walls are cleaned. However.. if I didn't have a fear of falling the bathrooms were very clean. This issue was in the men's and ladies room (men's room report came from my son).
Kid Friendly rating: 5 stars - This is one of my children's favorite restaurants. They love the steak fries, kids spaghetti (we ask them to split it so the kids can share), freckled lemonade, balloons, and cartoons on at least half of the TVs in the restaurant.

Sunday, April 13

Restroom Reviews

One of my biggest concerns while in public is the standard of cleanliness in restrooms.

1- Is there trash all over the floor?
2- Are the toilets covered in wetness or obvious urine?
3- Are there multiple toilets unflushed?
4- Is there enough tissue for me to complete my business?
5- Will my children see profanity while using the facilities?
6- Is the personal hygiene bin over flowing with nastiness?
7- Is there soap to wash my hands?
8- Is the sink that I'm washing my hands in clean?
9- Are there towels to dry my hands?
10- Did the odor in the restroom cause me to hold my breath?

Positives that increase my comfort in a restroom:
1- If there are no towels, is the door a push style that does not require me to use my now clean hands?
2- Changing table in men and ladies rooms.
3- Clean floors (IE.. they used a mop this week)

I try to be understanding if there are a few items that are lacking. However, I feel that once a business decides to provide a restroom that they should take responsibility and keep it clean and sanitary. I try to do my part too.. If my 3yo drops a towel on the floor, I pick it up; if we splash too much water, I wipe it off the floor and/or counter; if a faucet is dripping, I turn it off.

What turns you off in a restroom? Have you ever left a business because of their restroom?

Saturday, April 12


Why did I start this blog?

Because I'm tired of walking into businesses and finding nasty restrooms or poor customer service. I want to praise the awesome businesses and let you know what businesses to avoid.

Who am I ? (updated July 12th 2009)

I'm a mother to two boys (7 and 1) and a 4yo daughter. I am always on the run and have had some awesome and horrible experiences. I believe it is time that we as consumers make our opinions count.

How will I do this?

I'm planning to create a system for reviewing restaurants, stores, and particularly restrooms. I will also share my input on businesses I come into contact in my daily life. I also plan to share this information with the businesses that I review. I want them to receive the feedback and hopefully improve their systems or congratulate their employees for a job well done.