Restaurant owners criticize so-called “Bathroom Bill”

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HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — Business owners are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst before state lawmakers head to Montgomery on Feb. 7 to vote on bills that could impact the bottom line.

This Wednesday, over a dozen restaurant owners met with State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R – Vestavia Hills) at Grille 29 in Homewood to talk about the bills that could impact the service industry the most.

SB-1, also known as the “Alabama Privacy Act” or the “Bathroom Bill” is something the restaurant owners wanted to know more about.

The bill would require public bathrooms with multiple stalls to be designated for people of the same gender, or to be staffed at all times by an attendant.

The bill is intended to protect “physical and emotional security,” and comes amid a nationwide debate over transgender rights.

“The expense involved in accommodating this new rule that they want us to do would be cost prohibitive,” said John Krontiras, who owns Nabeel’s Café in Homewood.

Terry Humphries, who owns Billy’s Sports Grill, said if any customer had any specific safety concerns, he’d prefer to address them on his own.

“These government regulations are extremely difficult to adhere to,” Humphries said. “It opens the doors for lawyers and litigation. It’s hard enough to run a business as it is. And to hire and train people and maintain your facilities without having to adhere to a lot of regulations that just make it — it makes it to a point where you don’t want to be in business.”

Waggoner, who often advocates for the restaurant industry, did not write or sponsor the bill.

He told CBS 42 that he hadn’t read it or talked about it in depth with restaurant owners.

“The devil’s in the details,” Waggoner said. “I have not seen the bill. I don’t know the details of it, but if it looks right I will support it.”

The Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association has not taken an official stance on SB-1.

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