Patrons of restaurants can often deduce the care with which the
fare is prepared by the care taken to maintain the restrooms. Those
that are neat and well-kept are routine, but restrooms that are
especially original are part of Ann Arbor’s charm.

Sravya Chirumamilla
Originally decorated restrooms are a special feature of the Red Hawk restaurant (Dory Gannes/Daily).

China Gate on South University Avenue is known for its delicious
and award-winning Chinese cuisine. Rarely, though, is it admired
for its hidden and neat restrooms.

When patrons are in need of the powder room, the wait staff
leads them to the kitchen door. The wait staff usually screams into
the bustling kitchen, “customer” to forecast the
patron’s walk through. Customers are directed by the staff
through the kitchen and down the stairs where the restrooms await.
Since the trip is winding, one would expect the restrooms to also
be cramped, but they are spacious and homely, enhanced by wallpaper
and potpourri. Choosing instead to focus on the cuisine offered at
the restaurant, China Gate would not comment on the
restrooms’ appearance.

Yet another gem is located under the Red Hawk restaurant. A long
passageway filled with framed photographs and paintings leads to
the restaurant’s adorned restrooms. Red Hawk manager Tony
Elam gives the credit for the decorations to the owner.

“We get comments off of the Film Festival pictures,”
Elam said, noting that Red Hawk adds a new poster every year to
commemorate the Ann Arbor Film Festival. “We pride ourselves
on the whole restaurant,” Elam explained. “We try to
keep everything neat and clean.”

Bars are usually not known for clean restrooms. In fact, they
are typically the worst of the lot, complete with dirty stalls and
sinks and limited amounts of paper towels, which are usually strewn
around the overflowing trash can. Arbor Brewing Company’s
restrooms, on the other hand, offer beautifully decorated walls and
a clean atmosphere.

Both of the restrooms on the main floor are painted, as is the
hallway that leads to the restrooms downstairs. Elizabeth Hoffman,
the owner’s aunt, was an Ann Arbor artist who painted the

“If you look closely, there are fairies within the mural
and on their wings are the names of the people who work
here,” said Emily Thompson, a manager at Arbor Brewing
Company. Different features within the mural highlight one staff
member’s love for turtles, another’s bright blue eyes
and a manager’s slumber. “It’s an homage to the
staff,” Thompson said.

Hoffman continues to add new aspects to the mural; thus, a sign
reading “mural is in progress” greets the entrance to
the mural. The mural has been in progress since the restaurant
opened nine years ago. Thompson notes, “Since the staff is so
close and because people stay for years, it is an honor to be added
to the wall.”

By maintaining clean and innovative restrooms, these three Ann
Arbor mainstays deliver not just exquisite cuisine, but also
exceptional customer care.

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