ERIN, Tenn. (CNN) – A restaurant owner in Erin, Tn. billed a woman $5 for using the bathroom. The owner defends her actions saying the restrooms are for customers only.
The Flood Zone could be seen as a bright spot in the city known as a wee bit of Ireland, but recently, talk of the restaurant has been in the toilet.
Lisa Kent, co-owner of the Flood Zone says the $5 charge to use the bathroom wasn’t about the money, it was to emphasize that the restroom is for customers only because of past messes left in the restroom.
In October, Kent tried to enforce her $5 restroom charge by tracking down a woman who entered her business under the guise of a customer.
“She looked at the menu board up there and said, ‘Let me wash my hands.’ And she went into the bathroom and styed approximately 20 minutes. She jumped in her car and too off,” Kent says.
The business’ restrooms are clearly marked “customer only” but Kent admits the charge for non-customers was never about the money.
“We’re not a big business. We don’t have maintenance men to come,” Kents says.
David Gardner, who owns a nearby business, says he can sympathize.
“We’ve got a key that we use when the customers come in they have to ask for the key and they go use the bathroom,” Gardner says.
Gardner owns the Hojo Mini Market across the street. His restrooms are kept under lock and key to prevent damage.
“If you do have problems with people coming in, using the bathroom and messing up real bad, you can say it’s out of order,” Gardner says.
Since word has gotten out about the restroom charge, the owner of the Foold Zone says she’s paying the price.
Kent has answered countless harassing phone calls. Despite national media attention, many around time admit they’ve only heard one side.
“I don’t know the whole story,” Leo Valiz, a Erin resident, says.
Kent says she’s heard enough and is ready to get back to business.