A Boston restaurant is earning high praise this week — though not for its craft beer list or its menu.
This time, it’s the toilets earning all the attention.
The Salty Pig, whose restroom walls are adorned with copies of the comic strip “The Far Side,” has been named one of 10 finalists in Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest, an annual competition celebrating feats of lavatory ingenuity.
That such a contest even exists came as a surprise to Salty Pig general manager Ines Lee Santos, who said Thursday that the restaurant was nevertheless appreciative of the curious honor.
“We take great pride in thinking about the whole experience of the restaurant,” she said. “So it’s great to have an external company validate that hard work.”
The bathroom’s design is the brainchild of co-owners Jim Cochener and Mike Moxley, who opened the restaurant, at 130 Dartmouth St., four years ago. Longtime fans of Gary Larson’s “Far Side” comic, they elected to cover the walls of the restroom — which specializes in pizzas, pork-based dishes, and craft beer — with copies of the strip.
Call it their own brand of toilet humor.
Since then, the bathroom has become something of a local novelty. Customers have been known to spend a little longer drying their hands. Regulars have commented that they never take a trip to the bathroom without finding a new comic.
The bathroom caught the attention of contest organizers when it was discovered on a blog, and after a phone call to the restaurant for information, it was selected as a finalist. (It’s the only Boston-area bathroom included on the list, though The Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H., also earned a nomination for its fantasy forest-styled loo.)
“The ones that generate buzz are the ones we take a look at,” says Danny Rubin, a contest spokesman. “Oftentimes, [it’s] the restroom that somebody would go inside and walk back to their friends and say, ‘What a crazy restroom.’ ”
Still, winning won’t be easy.
The Salty Pig will have to beat a restroom in Charleston, S.C., built to resemble a whiskey barrel; a bathroom buried 650-feet below ground in a Hutchinson, Kan., salt mine; and a mothers’ nursing suite at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park.
A glance at the competition’s past winners reveals the extent to which some will go to liven up their commodes.
In 2013, top billing went to the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, which was “decorated with ornate, gilded mirrors, sassy text plates, and bricks laid as if by a drunken mason on bender, [inviting] guests into an Alice in Wonderland-like grotto,” according to its contest bio. Last year’s winner, a public restroom at Philadelphia’s Longwood Gardens, is a 17-stall room with foliage-covered walls and glass ceilings.
Voting for this year’s contest, which can be done online, wraps up Oct. 31, with the winner receiving a $2,500 credit to be used on restroom cleaning services and supplies.
Whether the The Salty Pig earns the title is anybody’s guess, but just being nominated has its benefits — not least of which, a dose of publicity.
“My only concern,” says Santos, the general manager, “is that our bathroom lines are going to get longer.”
View photos of the finalists:
Cibo Wine Bar
The Fitton Center for the Creative Arts
Great American Ball Park
The Music Hall
Ocean Beach, Calif.
Perry Lakes Park
The Salty Pig
Town of Minturn Public Restrooms
Dugan Arnett can be reached at email@example.com.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article mentioned The Salty Pig’s brunch menu, which the restaurant no longer serves.