TRIBECA — When it comes to cleanliness, using a bathroom that's not yours can be a crapshoot.
A young tech entrepreneur, however, is trying to flush out the potential grossness of restrooms in coffee shops and restaurants.
The new Looie app gives users access to a network of guaranteed clean bathrooms for a monthly subscription fee of $25.
“Everyone knows that experience of waiting in line at a Starbucks for the bathroom, only to have to suffer through a filthy experience,” Yezin Al-Qaysi, Looie's founder, said.
“We want to try to fix that problem, make sure people can do their business in a ridiculously clean space, even if they are out and about all day.”
When a restaurant or cafe signs on, Al-Qaysi's company takes over the cleaning responsibilities and Looie customers get a special key that gets them access to the restroom.
Looie users don’t have to buy anything from the restaurant to use the bathroom, while customers of the eatery continue to have normal access to the restrooms.
What you get in a “Looie” bathroom is a promise of cleanliness, with organic, natural cleaners. The restroom is cleaned seven to 10 times a day — and you’ll find little extras like plants, a changing table for babies and natural air fresheners.
Other, more technologically advanced bathroom amenities are on the way, though Al-Qaysi said he’s not ready to discuss or launch or those additions yet.
The 27-year-old from Montreal, Canada, also stressed that the start-up is still in its “very early phases.” They're launching the subscription service with about seven bathrooms in just the TriBeCa area in mid-July.
It’s so new that Al-Qaysi, along with his co-founder, his sister, have been cleaning the bathroom themselves.
“Eventually my employees will have to do this, so I really wanted to understand what it would take to keep this bathroom clean,” he said. “I may have a university degree, but I need to know the business.”
Al-Qaysi, who also founded an online shopping start-up called DoBundle, said the idea for Looie comes from his own experience of doing work in coffee shops without an office.
“Sometimes you buy that coffee and you wait in line, only to find that the bathroom is just awful,” Al-Qaysi said.
“I thought there has to be a better way.”
The ultimate goal is to have a network of thousands of bathrooms across the city and let users see where they can head to a clean bathroom that doesn’t have a wait through the app.
He’d also like to eventually offer day or weekly passes.
“I see this as win-win for the businesses and for users,” Al-Qaysi said.
"We handle something the businesses don’t want to do and make their bathrooms more appealing for everyone."
Mulberry & Vine did not immediately return a request for comment.