When it comes to creative signage, how much can restaurants push the envelope?

employee handwashing sign
Photo: Shutterstock


I run a dive bar. I’m looking to put something funny in the bathroom instead of the boring “Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work” sign that would still be compliant with the health department. What can I get away with?

– Owner


Kudos to you on wanting to have your relaxed and irreverent vibe extend throughout the operation, from the bar and menu to even the signage in the restroom.

That said, not everything can or should be cool.

While I give you points for creativity, I don’t know why you would try to push the limits of compliance in this way. If you do go the creative route, I’ve seen signs that are even more handwashing-promoting than the required signage such as, “Employees must wash hands before returning to work. Guests, please wash your hands too.”

If you really want to push this, I’d advise looking closely at the code and communicating with the health department in advance to see what would be acceptable to them. But my overall advice is to get the most boring, off-the-shelf compliant sign you can for the restroom and focus your creative energies into your food and beverage.

More on health code compliance and working proactively here.