Farewell Phoenix Potty Spots

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on October 03, 2013
From the Author / Comments Off

After more than three years of Phoenix Potty Spots gracing the downtown Phoenix community via Downtown Devil, it is time for me to say goodbye to the blog that educated Phoenicians on the most noteworthy bathroom places in downtown Phoenix.

My predecessor, Dustin Volz, first introduced us to Phoenix Potty Spots in January 2010 after being grappled by curiosity of where to find the hottest bathroom hangouts in his new home of downtown Phoenix. I took over in September 2012 with the mission to continue this legacy.

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What’s your favorite grout joke?

Upon hearing that I author a bathroom blog, people often ask me what my favorite restroom is. However, I don’t have a real answer to that question. My favorite bathroom would comprise various characteristics of the bathrooms I’ve surveyed over the past year: the old fashioned decor at Legend City Studios, the aroma at Chipotle City Scape, the “greenness” of the nursing building, the gluten-free food that lies nearby at Green, the use of user-generated content at Sit…Stay, the extra cabinet space at Starbucks at the Arizona Center, the homemade signs at Honey Bear’s BBQ, the bathroom tile heaven at Pei Wei, the ideal platform for grout jokes in UCENT, the toiletry options at First Studio, and the tree-branch door handle at Lawn Gnome Publishing.

My favorite aspect of writing the blog has been exploring the world of restrooms in a community that was originally new to me but has now become my home. Also, as a finance and supply chain management major, I can usually just throw around some pretentious financial or technical terms and call it a day when writing a paper. By writing Potty Spots, I’ve learned how to use AP style and get rid of incorrect colloquialisms. The negative side: my two supply chain textbooks seem to disagree on the utility of the Oxford comma, and I notice, and it’s aggravating.

So why say goodbye to Phoenix Potty Spots? All empires have a rise and fall, all toilets have a flush and re-fill, all blogs have a beginning and a conclusion. Now that Phoenicians have been given the tools necessary to critically analyze the restrooms they frequent, it’s time they take the reigns on assessing the utility and pizzazz of their favorite rooms.

So, what’s next for me? Naturally, no future can trump writing the Phoenix Potty Spots blog, but my future plans include working on my Barrett thesis, focusing on furthering my finance career, and crocheting sweaters for small animals. Cats need coats too, right?

Finally, I will leave my PPS loyalists with some of my favorite grout jokes:

  • Grout Balls of Fire
  • The Grout Gatsby
  • Three strikes and you’re grout
  • Groutman
  • Oscar the Grout
  • Look grout behind you!
  • What’s this agrout?
  • The Grout Wall of China
  • The Grouts of Wrath
  • I heard it through the groutvine

Farewell, Phoenix Potty Spots.

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Tweet about your experience at Sit…Stay

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on September 13, 2013
Restaurant Restrooms / Comments Off

New to First and Roosevelt streets, Sit…Stay is Short Leash Hot Dogsfood truck-turned-restaurant that specializes in hot dogs. Long a food truck favorite in downtown Phoenix, the restaurant — and its restrooms — don’t disappoint.

The Restroom Roundup

Find your tweet!

Find your tweet!

Cleanliness: Short Leash is a relatively new joint, and so are its restrooms. The bathrooms really haven’t had time to deteriorate and still retain the fresh feel that only fresh bathrooms can produce. It’s like the new-car smell, except with bathrooms. Grade: A-

The Green Effect: If there are efforts to be green, it is not apparent to patrons. Grade: D+

Pizazz: For those of you not up-to-date on tweet culture, this bathroom will prove to be an educational experience. Social media wall literature features tweets from customers about their Short Leash experience. Perhaps if enough people tweet about their bathroom experience, Sit…Stay will release a second edition of wall tweets…

While most bathrooms stick to the neutral brown-and-tan color scheme, this potty place chose a bright orange-and-yellow theme to liven up the room. A giant locker that follows this color motif, while an odd addition to a restaurant bathroom, brings a relaxed and quirky feel.

The uniqueness of the bathrooms doesn’t stop there. In the hallway outside of the restrooms, a myriad of photographs of patrons’ dogs personalize the walls. If you don’t have a dog already, this is reason enough to get one and eat at Short Leash. Grade: A-

What's better than a wall of tweets? A wall of photographs of dogs!

Find your dog.

The Intangibles: On the left side of the sink, a candle stays eternally lit. It adds a nice touch to the room, but is it safe? Fortunately, if the power mysteriously goes out, you’ll be the only one in the restaurant with light.

Tired of getting stares after you emerge from a one-person bathroom labeled for a different sex? Short Leash does its one-person bathrooms right by simply making them both unisex – ensuring that you won’t have to wait 20 minutes for the women’s restroom while the men’s stall is clearly unoccupied. Grade: A-

Final Verdict (not an average): A-

Short Leash keeps customer opinions and input close to heart and close to the walls. From the wall tweets to the hanging photos of customers’ dogs, community feedback and participation is a value of the restaurant, and it is also the main attraction of the restrooms.

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Sun Devil Fitness Complex: birth of a new bathroom

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on September 05, 2013
ASU campus / Comments Off

New to the downtown Phoenix bathroom community are the Sun Devil Fitness Complex restrooms. The complex opened doors Aug. 21, and naturally the main attraction that everyone has been curious about is its restrooms. For those who follow the exercising philosophy of the sloth running team and don’t plan on making the trip down to the complex, we’ve surveyed the restroom for your convenience.

The Restroom Roundup

Brought your whole life with you to the gym? Lock it up in a spacious locker.

Brought your whole life with you to the gym? Lock it up in a spacious locker.

Cleanliness: This bathroom was recently created and opened to the public, and its infrastructure reflects this. The stall doors, the walls, the lockers — everything — looks new, fresh and relatively untouched.

In most bathrooms, you see an unsightly amount of paper towels in the trashcan. Here, the trashcan is populated with a mixture of energy bar wrappers alongside the typical mass of paper towels. If you want to know what energy bars are tasty, take a look in the trash can and see what your fellow gymgoers think.

Let’s be honest, we’re all glad that toilet seat covers are provided in the stalls. I don’t want to think of how many people have used the toilets in all their post-workout glistening… Grade: A-

The Green Effect: Water pressure: average. Flushing system: average. For such a new bathroom, the attention to sustainability is outdated and out-of-fashion. Grade: D

Soap dispenser, or ocean dispenser?

Soap dispenser, or ocean dispenser?

Pizazz: With the pleasing array of colors represented, this potty spot gives off a happy vibe. A red-tiled accent wall offsets the grey-brown lockers and the golden-brown stalls. The somewhat intense lighting toward the entrance of the room nicely highlights its various colors and keeps energies high.

The soap dispensers also add a cool touch. Not only are they automatic, but you can also see the transparent blue bag that contains the actual soap. It looks like an ocean. Every time you put your hand underneath the machine, it is as if you are blessed with a little drop of the sea, sans the salt and the creatures.

However, it would be lovely to see portraits hanging on the walls of fit and good-looking people for workout motivation. But no, all you have is your own reflection — which might actually be motivation enough. Grade: C+

The Intangibles: You know those people at the gym who can’t help but look at themselves in the mirror every opportunity they get? Well, these restrooms have a mirror just for them. A nifty full-length mirror ensures that people can compare their pre- and post-workout muscles without the embarrassment of the whole gym judging them.

The lighting fixtures in the room are oddly placed -– the entrance and vanity area are incredibly well-lit, and with each successive step toward the back of the room, the lighting becomes more and more bleak. In the last stall, the brown stall door and other fixtures are indistinguishable from the color black.

However, if you want to lock up your things, you no longer have to hike down to the bottom level of the YMCA. Just walk a few steps from the entrance to the restroom and secure your belongings in a set of spacious lockers. Grade: A

Final Verdict (not an average): B-

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex helps align the ASU Downtown campus with its Tempe counterpart. It provides students with brand-new equipment and facilities, including its bathrooms. It may be lacking that extra spice to make it a “wow” potty place, but it takes into consideration consumer needs by adding spacious lockers and a bench. In terms of utility, this restroom covers all its bases.

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First Friday Feature: Phoenix Art Museum

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on August 29, 2013
Art Bathrooms / Comments Off

Conveniently located along the light rail at McDowell Road and Central Avenue, the Phoenix Art Museum adds cultural spice to downtown Phoenix. If the $15 price of entrance is too high for you, venture on over on Wednesdays between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. or on First Fridays for an art experience free of charge.

The Restroom Roundup

It's like the seven dwarves, but with stalls.

It’s like the seven dwarves, but with seven stalls.

Cleanliness: On Wednesdays, especially around 3 p.m. when the free entry begins and children get off school, the museum is a hopping place. However, its bathrooms remain deserted and thus impeccably clean. To maintain the organized and clean feel, the museum makes sure each stall is fully equipped with two toilet paper roll dispensers. If you are a one-roll-per-bathroom-use type of person, you’ve just found your dream bathroom. Grade: A-

The Green Effect: In this restroom, everything is automated: the faucets, the soap, the towel dispenser, the toilet flush. I was surprised that the toilet paper dispenser wasn’t automated as well. The automatic functions in the vanity area most likely limit waste, but the sensitive toilet flush is inclined to prematurely flush and therefore waste water. Points for effort. Grade: C+

CAPTION

With all the artwork featured, the restroom is a continuation of the museum exhibits.

Pizazz: This place should be included in museumgoer’s exhibit rounds. Four medium-sized canvases depicting objects of various textures outfit the walls. In the unlikely case of a line, you can entertain yourself with the artwork and guess as to what its subjects are. Green, light pink, cream — all the cool colors of the rainbow are found in the artwork. The walls and floors, however, follow the typical tiles-in-neutral-colors scheme. Grade: B+

The Intangibles: If you have a family of seven, you can take everyone on a potty pit stop in one round. There is a stall for each day of the week! If one doesn’t meet your standards, just move on to the next one. Just make sure you don’t get decision fatigue from all the choices at your disposal. Grade: C+

Final Verdict (not an average): B-

A popular local attraction, the Phoenix Art Museum fulfills some of downtown’s thirst for art and culture. Although the bathrooms lack some of the intriguing architectural characteristics of the museum, they share the tasteful simplicity and grace of their host.

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The Westin: a one-stop shop bathroom

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on August 20, 2013
Hotel Restrooms / Comments Off

For the 57 students who as of last Friday did not have a room in Taylor Place, the Westin Phoenix Downtown is their new temporary home. At Central Avenue and Van Buren Street, the Westin is just a parking lot away from the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus dorms. Will its lobby bathrooms suffice for the displaced students?

Why have normal lamps when you can have orbs instead?

Why have normal lamps when you can have orbs instead?

The Restroom Roundup

Cleanliness: Even with all the new freshmen residing at the Westin, its lobby restrooms are impeccably clean and tidy. There are occasional cracks in the floor tiles, but the crisp atmosphere of the room overshadows any floor blemishes. Grade: A

The Green Effect: Unfortunately, the Westin follows suit with the norm of putting convenience over conservation. Only thick paper towels are provided to dry the hands, and there are no apparent efforts to make the bathrooms environmentally friendly. Grade: D-

Enjoy the luxury of some books or napping while waiting for friends using the restroom.

Enjoy the luxury of reading or napping while waiting for friends using the restroom.

Pizazz: The design of the bathroom mirrors that of the hotel –- orderly, modern and comfortable. Tan-brown tiled stall walls and floors complimented by the use of deep reds and oranges in wall portraits create a soothing atmosphere.

Two orb-like lights sit above the sink, beckoning people to check themselves out in the wall-length mirror. The lighting is quite bright, so you can see how wonderfully pleasant or truly terrible you look. On the bright side, you can easily and accurately freshen yourself up, thanks to the good lighting. Grade: B-

The Intangibles: A maze of turns and twists leads to the lobby restrooms, making it slightly inconvenient to access. However, a generous amount of seating and copious books accompany the area directly outside the bathrooms. If you are in need of a restroom that provides you with some actual rest, look no further. Unfortunately, the room itself is strictly BYOB (bring your own books), as no toilet literature is provided in the actual restroom.

Also, an ATM sits adjacent to the restrooms. Now you can get a bathroom break, quick reading and an ATM run accomplished in the same trip. The Westin lobby bathroom area is a one-stop shop. Grade: A-

Final Verdict (not an average): B

Like the Westin itself, the lobby bathrooms are well-designed and organized. Finding the restroom for the first time is similar to finding where a new semester of university classes are located, so the freshmen temporarily staying in the Westin will be well-prepared for the first day of classes on Thursday.

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Flaunt your chalk skills at Pallets Food and Bar

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on April 30, 2013
Restaurant Restrooms / Comments Off

New to the downtown Phoenix food scene is Pallets Food and Bar, located on Roosevelt and Third streets. The Asian restaurant certainly esteems ambiance as a valuable part of the dining experience, and the restroom facilities are no exception. Its bathrooms share many commonalities with those of Bliss ReBar, located only a few blocks away. Like Bliss ReBar, it has various individual bathrooms that contain only a toilet, and the sinks are housed in a common area in the bathroom hallway. Unlike Bliss’s colorful bathrooms, however, Pallets’s rooms radiate a chrome and metallic vibe.

Who needs the Fourth of July when you have fireworks made of artificial light?

Who needs the Fourth of July when you have fireworks made of artificial light?

The Restroom Roundup

Cleanliness: When I encountered this potty spot, no trash detracted from the metallic heaven. Granted, I dined during the pre-lunch lull and thus avoided the trash aftermath from rush hour restroom traffic. Grade: A

The Green Effect: While having fewer sinks than bathrooms is environmentally smart, the environmental considerations stop there. Grade: D+

Pizazz: Getting revved up for the Fourth of July a few months early? Pallets’s bathroom can help you with that. The ceiling light in one of the stalls casts a heavy concentration of light on the rear wall, creating the image of a grey and white firework. If cars are more your thing, the chrome pattern on the wall resembles the shine of wax on a car before it is cleaned off.

Given all these intriguing wall imagery manipulations, there is concern about the bathroom attracting those who are prone to use mind-altering drugs. The metallic walls are psychedelic enough when only on a food and caffeine high. Grade: B+

Think you're the next great chalk artist? Try your hand with this chalk wall.

Think you’re the next great chalk artist? Show your skills here.

The Intangibles:
These restrooms are perfect for a selfie hipster photo shoot. The shiny chrome walls plus flannel and cutoffs would be too much juxtaposition to handle. Next time I visit this bathroom, I’m bringing my tripod.

In addition to the picturesque background for self-proclaimed hipsters, Pallets’s bathroom is a great practice area for up-and-coming chalk artists. Opposite the sink area lies a chalk wall, perfect for drawing chalk masterpieces, doodles or mysterious notes for the next bathroom-goers.

However, the major flaw of the bathroom is that, apart from the floor, there is nowhere for patrons to put their belongings. You either have to hold your purse or knapsack while on the toilet or brave putting it on the floor. In my opinion, the best alternative is to just purchase a fanny pack. In general, fanny packs fix most problems. Grade: A

Final Verdict (not an average): A-

Pallets Food and Bar is both a refreshing restaurant and restroom addition to downtown Phoenix. Its dungeonlike bathroom stalls and clever chalk wall ensure that whether you are standing in line or on the toilet, your bathroom experience will be far from boring. Chalk it up to innovation, but this bathroom is both aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian.

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One Coffee Co.’s unique use of shared toilet space

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on April 23, 2013
Coffee Shops / Comments Off

Right off the CityScape light rail stop at Washington Street and Central Avenue is One Coffee Co., one of the many local coffee houses in downtown Phoenix. Home to one of the best chai lattes with almond milk, it is well worth the visit. However, its hours are limited during non-business hours, making it more difficult for students to plan coffee trips here. Its bathrooms, which it shares with the complex it is in, also shares the corporate feel that personifies the rest of the building.

A warning that would be wise to heed.

A warning that would be wise to heed.

The Restroom Roundup

Cleanliness: For all the traffic it receives, this bathroom is impeccably clean. However, scuff marks adorn the entirety of the floor, making me wonder if someone practices tap dancing in the room (because there is little reason for scuff marks to be in the most remote corners).
Grade: A-

The Green Effect: While many bathrooms in the Phoenix community have the excuse of being historic and having been built prior to the earth-friendly era, this toilet has no excuse for its lack of greenness. If there are green techniques being utilized, it is not apparent to the naked eye. Grade: D

Pizazz: Corporate bathrooms love their tile, and this one is no exception. An odd tile arrangement forms to create some sort of symbol. What does it mean? Perhaps nothing, perhaps something.

Unfortunately, there is no coat hanger on the bathroom door, but there is a bar code. Does this mean I can purchase the door or bathroom? If I could buy a coffee shop’s bathroom my life would be near complete.

To remedy the no-coat-hanger problem, the countertop is incredibly large and incredibly sparkly. If you are someone who gets distracted easily by sparkly things, like Edward Cullen, I would recommend directing your eyes somewhere other than the countertop. Grade: C+

Not for those who are easily distracted by sparkly things.

Not for those who are easily distracted by sparkly things.

The Intangibles: During my stay in the individual unisex bathroom, about 3,459,879 people attempted to open the door. Luckily for me, a rather bold sign recommends, “After Entering Lock the Door Behind You.” I’ve never been more glad to have heeded the advice of a sign.

Most restrooms have a normal-looking light switch, which is sometimes paired with a switch for the fan. However, this bathroom, has two novel-looking black switches, one with an illuminating green light and one with a red light. I was tempted to see what would happen if I pressed the switches, but fear kept me from experimenting. Press if you dare.

Perhaps one of the most interesting facets of the bathroom is that One Coffee Co. shares a bathroom with the rest of its building’s first floor. This unique sharing of space illustrates that both corporate offices and small, local businesses such as a coffee shop can work together to conserve resources and combine various aspects of the community. To reach the bathroom, one has to leave the coffee shop, walk down a hallway and pass a mailroom and other ambiguously labeled corporate doors. If you bring your resume, you might be able to stop by a few of them and market yourself for a job or summer internship. Grade: A

Final Verdict (not an average): B+

Although the artwork that makes One Coffee Co.’s interior unique is lacking in its bathroom, its use of shared space with other businesses makes the restroom special. After using the toilet, explore around and see what you can find.

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Lawn Gnome’s toilets not ideal for potty reading

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on April 18, 2013
Art Bathrooms / Comments Off

In early February of last year, Lawn Gnome Publishing became a new addition to Roosevelt Row. Since its birth, it has become a community staple and a home to various poetry slam and community events.

The Restroom Roundup

Are these toiletries for public use?

Are these toiletries for public or private use?

Cleanliness: Lawn Gnome’s potty is an organized mess. The bathtub doubles as a storage unit, the cabinet houses curious toiletries, and a “please put toilet lid down” sign is much needed. Strangely enough, however, the disorganization of the room contributes to its rustic and personal feel. The room strays far from the cold, grey aesthetic of corporate bathrooms, but it comes at the price of diminished pristineness. Grade: B-

The Green Effect: The historic nature of the house means that environmentally friendly practices simply are not that feasible. The paper towel dispenser was empty too, which saved me from drying my hands with a tree. Grade: B-

Pizazz: Although the décor of Lawn Gnome is quirky and displays clever art and cartoons around its store, its bathroom lacks the same sparkle. No potty cartoons or bathroom books give the room the same personality the store embodies.

The room is not totally devoid of intrigue, however. The walls of Lawn Gnome are painted a tree-bark brown, and this theme carries into the restroom. The door handle resembles a large tree branch, adding a touch of pizzazz. Grade: B-

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Am I entering a tree house or a bathroom?

The Intangibles: I hate feeling all alone in a bathroom and separated from the rest of the world. Luckily for people like me, Lawn Gnome has a curious hole in the door that looks out into the bookstore. Perfectly for spying and being spied on.

Also, this bathroom is suited for lefties. Only body builders will be able to turn the right faucet, but the left faucet is scrawny-people friendly. Perhaps this is an attempt to get people to exercise and use less water? Grade: C+

Final Verdict (not an average): B-

Lawn Gnome’s bathroom has the potential to be a room full of personality and vivacity. All they need to do is replace their storage materials in the bathtub with a bookstand complete with quirky bathroom books and hang up some local weird potty art and cartoons. With a few small changes such as these, the community book store could change their bathroom into a community potty.

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Pane Bianco’s toilets old-fashioned yet sustainable

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on April 09, 2013
Restaurant Restrooms / Comments Off

The sister restaurant of Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco serves tasty sandwiches and pizza. Situated next to Lux, not far from the Campbell and Central avenues light rail station, Pane Bianco makes for a charming lunch or dinner with friends.

The Restroom Roundup

What starts as tile on the left ends as something else on the right.

The floor of the bathroom is an art project in itself.

Cleanliness: Except for its dangerously full trash bin, Pane Bianco’s restroom is remarkably clean. Grade: B

The Green Effect: Pane Bianco decided to hop on the sustainable flush train by providing a half-flush option for their toilets. However, instructions or labels would make a beneficial addition for those who are new to the half-flush concept. Grade: A-

Pizazz: The antique theme of the restaurant transfers to its restroom. The mirror looks like a toned-down version of the mirror in “Snow White,” and white brick emulates the old-fashioned motif of the restaurant.

Every day can be throwback Thursday at Pane Bianco. Chalk etchings of the gender denominations color the bathroom doors, reminiscent of the kindergarten days.

Also, the flooring of Pane Bianco’s restroom is somewhat a mystery. Multiple materials collide and juxtapose to create a flooring art project. Grade: B-

White walls complimented by white toilet paper complimented by a white toilet paper holder.

The mass of white used in the restroom is nearly blinding.

The Intangibles: Want a preview of the scent of your meal? Head on over the bathroom –- it smells of pizza and olives.

Bringing a friend or two is a must when it comes to making the bathroom trip, and a restroom intended for one individual is no different, right? To aid with this tradition of making a bathroom trip a bathroom party, Pane Bianco provides a handy stool to ensure that its patrons are always comfortable. Grade: B+

Final Verdict (not an average): B

Like its restaurant, Pane Bianco’s latrines are charming and reminiscent of the “Gone with the Wind” era. The contrast between the old-fashioned mirror, the modern half-flush and the faint pizza-and-olive scent make the bathroom a unique and pleasing one.

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Taylor Place Starbucks toilet designed for utility

Posted by Elisa Fankhauser on April 02, 2013
ASU campus, Coffee Shops / Comments Off

The Starbucks in Taylor Place is quite the popular place. On a typical day, nearly everyone I know and their mothers can be found there sipping on a latte and lounging on the comfortable couches. It is the perfect place to be if you want to casually run into a potential love interest; all you need to do is buy some coffee, sit in a chair and wait. The person will inevitably drop by. It’s even more reliable than a dating site.

Sink, mirror, soap. All the goods are here.

Sink, mirror, soap. All the goods are here.

The Restroom Roundup

Cleanliness: The restroom is clean in terms of trash, but scuff marks on the ground give the bathroom a worn look. Grade: B-

The Green Effect: ASU’s commitment to making its campus a green one has had some successes and some downfalls – and this is one of its downfalls. No noticeable green efforts are present in the room save for its rather hidden location in the rear of the coffee shop. If you don’t have bathroom traffic, you don’t have bathroom waste. Grade: D-

Pizazz: Like many restrooms, this one has a tan-tiled color scheme with tiles lining both the walls and the floor. Unfortunately the ceiling is naked of this typifying trait, leaving it looking bare and lonely.

Also, dark tiles speckled with shades of tan are arranged neatly on the floor, but I’m not sure if this tile discoloration is for art or from use — or both. Grade: C-

Just in case you forget where the bathroom exit is.

Just in case you forget where the bathroom exit is.

The Intangibles: Once in a while, you’ll chance upon a bathroom that has helpful instructional guides about how to wash your hands, and this restroom is one of them.

However, that’s not the only helpful extra attribute the Starbucks put in its bathroom. A giant red “exit” sign hangs over the door, so if you forget your glasses at home, there is no need to worry about figuring out the maze of the restroom. Grade: C+

Final Verdict (not an average): C

The Starbucks bathroom at Taylor Place provides a handy place to use the latrine while socializing with friends. Its focus is mainly on utility as opposed to sparkle and zest and lacks in comparison to the Starbucks bathroom in the Arizona Center. While the two restrooms are only a few blocks away from each other, their décors are vastly different. The Arizona Center Starbucks potty has oddly shaped mirror ornaments and a storage area large enough to park a cat, while the Taylor Place Starbucks merely provides a plethora of tiles that mask the appearance of scuffmarks.

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