Ohio Forces Restaurant to Ditch Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Owner Jonah Oryszak was walking an Ohio Division of Liquor Control agent through his Cleveland restaurant and bar, Good Company, to inspect a new patio. But the routine inspection took a turn toward the bizarre when the state agent saw the bathrooms.

The bathrooms were both single occupancy and gender neutral, Cleveland.com reports. But apparently that didn’t comply with an “obscure” state rule, requiring “separate toilet facilities for men and women” at establishments that sell alcohol.

Threatening to revoke the restaurant’s liquor license on the spot, the state inspector told Oryszak he needed to get specific “male” and “female” signage on the two bathrooms.

Not only is this not inclusive for trans and nonbinary people, but it’s also bad for customer experience. With single-occupancy stalls, it’s possible for one restroom to be open. But if it’s not the “right” gendered restroom, a customer might have to wait.

Funnily enough, Good Company did have signage showing one bathroom included a urinal and toilet and the other just had a toilet — allowing customers to choose whichever facility they were most comfortable with. But this wasn’t good enough for the inspector.

Oryszak told the inspector he wanted time to research the rule, but he was forced to draw an “M” on one of the bathrooms and a “W” on the other.

Good Company took to Instagram to share the story and to tell its customers they should use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable with.


View this post on Instagram

It saddens us to say that The State of Ohio has bullied us into putting genders on our restrooms at Good Company today. We fought it the best we could but ultimately they held our business hostage stating we wouldn’t be able to operate until we added an “M” and a “W” to the restroom doors. We even asked to see the law which says “restrooms available to both sexes.” To us that sounds like we were operating within the law as we had restrooms available for EVERYONE. We will move forward operating within the law as it currently is written but rest assured that we will be fighting this behind the scenes. In the meantime we obviously will not be enforcing this – use whatever facilities you choose! ✌🏽 ❤️ 🍔 🏳️‍🌈

A post shared by Good Company (@goodcompany.cle) on

“It saddens us to say that The State of Ohio has bullied us into putting genders on our restrooms at Good Company today,” the Good Company Instagram says. “We fought it the best we could but ultimately they held our business hostage stating we wouldn’t be able to operate until we added an ‘M’ and a ‘W’ to the restroom doors. … We will move forward operating within the law as it currently is written but rest assured that we will be fighting this behind the scenes. In the meantime we obviously will not be enforcing this — use whatever facilities you choose!”

After this story blew up on social media, an Ohio Department of Commerce spokeswoman told Cleveland.com the liquor license of Good Company was never truly at risk. Then, Jim Canepa, superintendent of Ohio’s Division of Liquor Control, called Oryszak to apologize. Canepa also confirmed that the explicit “male” and “female” signs were unnecessary, and the restaurant wasted no time getting rid of them.

It is good this story has a happy ending, but from start to finish it was so unnecessary and off-putting. Government agencies need to take a step back from the red tape and consider how to be inclusive — as well as abide by some good, old-fashioned common sense. Let’s have the government stop obsessing over bathrooms and focus on some real problems.

Photo credit: JohnArehart/Getty Images

50 comments

Carole R
Carole R16 days ago

With one person rest rooms I don't care but I do know it makes some people uncomfortable especially those with children. We all need to be ok with using the rest room.

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Joan E
Joan E18 days ago

We are talking about one-person rest rooms, so it is only one person at a time, and the door normally locks, so what is the problem? Any one person should be able to go to the bathroom, whatever the bathroom looks like, and whatever the person happens to look like.

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Kimberly L
Kimberly Lucas18 days ago

I am all about live and let live. Unfortunately, we have the preverts that like to do harm and other atrocities. Inmy opinion restrooms are a breeding ground for such issues. - Not only worrying about myself- I have a Sun - I can guarantee if anything happens to him hell hath no fury - Mommas coming for all those that are involved😡

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Danuta W
Danuta Watola18 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O18 days ago

if you don't like the law ask politicians to change it.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O18 days ago

If it is the law it is the law and that is what the state employee has to enforce just as the police do.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O18 days ago

As a woman, I want women only in my restroom. If a man has changed into a woman that is fine. If he is just feeling like declaring himself a woman today, that is not fine.

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Toni W
Toni W18 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W18 days ago

TYFS

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Paul Carter
Paul Carter18 days ago

Why do some officials go out of their way to look ridiculous and by inference make the organizations they work for open to ridicule?

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