Magic Restroom Cafe: Would You Pay To Eat On A Toilet?

Toilet-Themed Restaurant Opens in China
(Video: Another restaurant taking advantage of the restroom-themed dining craze.)


Perhaps the Magic Restroom Cafe is magical in part because it has done something other restaurants have yet to do: require patrons to sit on a toilet while they dine. According to the restaurant’s owner, Yo Yo Li, restroom-themed restaurants have been a hit so far in her native China and Taiwan. Their surprising success influenced her decision to open the Magic Restroom Cafe in City of Industry, California – just east of Los Angeles – on October 11.

The Magic Restroom Cafe‘s tables are outfitted with actual toilets (never used, not hooked up) as seats. But the restroom theme doesn’t stop there. The restaurant’s lobby showcases both urinals and toilets. The cafe’s signature dish is called “golden poop” rice. They also serve dishes with titles like “black poop,” “smells-like-poop,” “bloody number two,” and “constipation.” The food itself arrives to the table in a miniature version of a floor toilet.

So this all begs the question: would you pay to eat bowel-movement-themed food while sitting on a toilet?

SkyMall Monday: You Go Girl!

gadling skymall monday you go girl toiletGoing to the bathroom on planes is never pleasant. In fact, doing your business anywhere in public can be nerve-wracking. Many public restrooms smell unpleasant and are filthy. Beyond that, there’s the embarrassment caused by the sounds emanating from our behinds and the ensuing odors created by the gastrointestinal festivities. There’s nothing more awkward than emerging from the stall after a particularly loud and aromatic session to find people at the sinks visibly traumatized by the experience. That’s why we only go number two at SkyMall Monday headquarters. We have a soundproof bathroom built two miles below ground inside a mountain. For those of you who didn’t have your facilities designed by a military contractor, SkyMall has just what you need to keep your bathroom business from becoming a public fiasco. The next time you have to use a public restroom to evacuate your bowels, be sure to bring along some You Go Girl!For those of you who think that women neither pass gas nor defecate, it’s time to grow up. All manner of things come out of women’s bodies and some of those events are more odoriferous than others. Unlike men, women do not celebrate the size, shape and pungency of their fecal trophies. In fact, women feel great shame when their number two is loud and noxious. That’s why they need a concealer.

Think that noises made by bodily functions are normal and healthy? Believe that we’re all mature enough to handle naturally occurring events without embarrassment? Well, while you suffocate in a port-o-potty, we’ll be reading the product description:

Reduce bathroom anxiety on airplanes, restaurants or at work with You Go Girl. Just pour a packet into the toilet before use to mask embarrassing odors, dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Biodegradable, phosphate-free formula is safe to flush, and each packet is small enough to carry discreetly in your purse, day bag or pocket, so you can feel confident taking care of business away from home.

Toilet splash is the 84th leading killer of women in public restrooms*. Eliminating this damp scourge is worth the $12.85 for a 10-pack.

Like you, I was baffled by how such a product could not only eliminate odor, but also dampen sounds and eliminate splash. Thankfully, the company has produced an informational video. Even more thankfully, that video utilizes computer animation. I trust that you will see the brilliance of You Go Girl! Of course, men do not need this product. Our farts sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd and smell like fresh baked apple pie.

* Maybe.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Oktoberfest bathrooms (and tips for next year)

With so much beer consumed at Munich‘s Oktoberfest, it’s only logical that urination becomes a world-class activity. The bathrooms at the festival run the gamut from: good, fine, okay, crowded, packed and insane (see below) to convivial, non-existent, trees, bushes, lampposts and grass. Don’t be shocked to find many people — usually men — at the Theresienwiese (festival grounds) discharging in public. Oktoberfest is still a wonderful, memorable experience, but we human beings, well… we do have to go, so try not to be surprised.

Although I was sitting with other “specially invited guests” at of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery on the last night of Oktoberfest, I finally had to head for a much-needed bathroom break. I’d heard about a mysterious “VIP-Pee,” but learned it was reserved for women only. So when the inevitable time came, I boxed my way down a crowded staircase, then out the door and headed for the nearest bathroom.

%Gallery-7107%After turning the corner around the exterior beer garden I encountered a dense, swelling crowd of maleness — guys of all ages and nationalities pushing to enter a small white shack labeled, “WC.” Speaking quasi-German now, “I Hav-en-to-pissen,” I joined a group of about 150 pushing hard to enter the one doorway. I was squished from the each side and back as purposeful masculine energy heaved the group forward. Against this tide, guys were attempting to exit through the one door, looking for a seam and slithering out of the onrushing squirming horde. It reminded me of a fullback attempting a tough draw through a stout defense. Most, but not all, of the guys found the situation funny, and I heard lots of German, English, Danish, Italian, Spanish, French and other languages. Some laughed while others swore with words I could not comprehend. Finally getting in, I went and turned around to get out of this insane WC. Finding some big blockers, I pushed hard against the group and popped out like a kidney stone into the fresh air. Whew, this scene was worse than when I saw Johnny Rotten at the Roseland Ballroom.

By contrast the bathroom inside the Hacker-Pschorr tent was a model of German efficiency as you stood up next to — and facing — fellow urinators standing on the other side of a partition. It was a time for light conversation, a time for reflection and a time to pee. Plus it had an actual exit door – how civilized.

Some insights for next year’s Oktoberfest which runs September 17 – October 3, 2011.

* Visit the beer tents early in the event and early in the day. You stand a much greater chance of walking in and finding a seat than in the evening. Then, you can return to your hotel early, or have dinner elsewhere. Normal, non-crazy times around lunchtime or before 4:00 PM are ideal.

* For evening fun, definitely make reservations for visiting Brewery tents. There is no fee for entrance, and again, walk-ins are welcome, but there are times when every single inch at the Oktoberfest tents are full and you’ll be left outside looking in. My favorite tents were the big Paulaner tent, the Augustina Brewery tent (the oldest brewery in Munich, dating from 1328) and my favorite, the beautiful tent from Hacker-Pschorr. Everyone has their own favorite. Ask around and do some research.

* Remember, tent reservations are free but highly sought after around the world. Use this link for reservation information. The owners of the tents aren’t exactly the breweries themselves, but it matters not for visitors. Sign up as early as possible.

* Try and order a glass of water (wasser) along with each beer. I should have had more water, especially the last night.

* Don’t forget to eat enough. It will help with beer consumption issues.

Until 2011 – Prost!

Previously:
* Oktoberfest by the numbers
* Arriving at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Munich, Germany’s 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest
* Beer logistics at Munich’s Oktoberfest
* Oktoberfest: Lots of food and more than 8 million gallons of beer

Bob Ecker is a Napa, California based travel writer/photographer providing worldwide magazines and newspapers with compelling travel, hospitality, wine, culinary, skiing, film and innovative feature content. He is constantly on the go, traveling the world, unearthing new stories and uncorking emerging regions. He is current Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) member and former President of the Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW).

[Images: Flickr | Ethan Prater; mahmut; Herr_bert]

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Six ways to enjoy Madison Square Park

Manhattan has a lot of great parks – but a handful tends to hog all the attention. Central Park is what it is; there’s just now way to compare it to anything else. Bryant Park has live performances and exhibitions (not to mention a starring role in Fashion Week) and is only a block from Times Square. And, there are others that would come to mind before you work your way down the list to one of my favorite open spaces in the city: Madison Square Park.

Don’t be misled – this park is nowhere near the “garden” of the same name. It sits between East 23d Street and East 26th Street and between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, in a small pocket of New York that most visitors tend to skip. So, catch the R or W train to the East 23d Street stop, and get ready to enjoy Madison Square Park in six different ways.

1. Take care of two buildings at once
The uniquely shaped Flatiron Building is right across the intersection from the southwest corner of the park, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway meet. What you may not realize, though, is that the northwest corner of the park (East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue) provides a great view of the Empire State Building. Crowds tend to form, for some reason, during morning rush hour (which sucks for the locals). Also, avoid lunch hour and evenings, as people who work nearby will get in the way of your shot.

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2. Watch some television – live
It’s not unusual to find camera crews in and around Madison Square Park. Plenty of shows shot in New York use the space. So, while you wander through, you may be lucky enough to bump into one of your faves.

3. Go to the bathroom
If you aren’t fortunate enough to spot a celeb, drink some water. This will have the predictable effect and send you to one of only a handful of self-cleaning public toilets in the New York City. It’s on the southeast corner of Madison Square Park, and a quarter buys you 15 minutes. That should be plenty of time to take interior photos of the device that guest-starred on CSI:NY.

4. Enjoy some art
There’s always a public art display of some kind in Madison Square Park. Right now, it’s Markers, an installation by Mel Kendrick, a Boston-born artist who’s now a resident of New York. This project consists of five pieces reflect the “rippling surfaces contain the fossil memory of the actions taken over time.” Like almost all the public art in Madison Square Park, Kendrick’s installation is definitely worth a look.

5. Grab a bite
Sure, it’s tempting to head over to the storied Shake Shack in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park (near the toilet/TV star/murderer). But, if you’re looking for a substantial, enjoyable sit-down meal, go up to Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse, a few blocks north on East 28th Street and Fifth Avenue. Definitely make the ribeye your meal (it was amazing), but you’d be nuts not to start with the seafood platter. Take your time, and rest your feet for a bit, especially if you’ve been wandering around the city all day. The staff is attentive and accommodating, and they will not rush you. This is a great alternative to the long waits and hope-you-can-pull-it-off reservation situations at the steakhouses in mid-town. And, the dark-wooded interior drives home the insider feel that makes any steak dinner in Manhattan complete.

6. Grab a cigar (for those inclined)
For many, the only way to finish a hefty steak dinner is with a cigar. Go local with a stick from Martinez Cigars, a few blocks away on West 29th Street and Seventh Ave. Grab a maduro, and go back to the park (while you can still smoke there). If nobody’s around, chill for a bit on the new pedestrian area just west of Madison Square Park.

Passenger’s bathroom dash causes panic on United flight

You know when you’ve just downed your water bottle before reaching airport security? And you didn’t have time to use the airport bathroom? And then the plane is delayed on the tarmac?

Yeah, even then…don’t use the airplane toilet before takeoff.

One passenger learned the hard way yesterday. United Flight 22 had already left the gate at Los Angeles International Airport, but hadn’t taken off yet, and the man needed to use the toilet. But of course the fasten seat belt sign was on and a flight attendant told him to sit down.

He got up and ran to the toilet anyway.

I could easily imagine that happening. In my mind, it’s more of a personal emergency and not a threat to public safety.

But apparently, the flight crew didn’t think so. The plane was brought back to the gate. Once there, the man was escorted out, and the other passengers were let off the plane. Then, the plane was searched.

What did they find? Nothing. Nothing on the plane. Nothing in the man’s luggage. Nothing but proof that the passenger really needed to use the toilet.
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