Seattle restaurant defends needle bins in restrooms after social media backlash

Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe in Seattle's University District has found itself in the middle of the debate on the heroin epidemic.

The restaurant has waste bins specifically for needles in each of its bathrooms.

Some on social media have blasted the bins as encouraging drug use, but Chaco Canyon workers say it’s only for public safety.

KIRO 7 found the waste bins full of needles on Monday when we went to get the restaurant’s take on the issue.




“People are going to be using, wherever they are,” Chaco Canyon worker Jeff Coyne said. Coyne also volunteers at the U-District needle exchange.

“I've seen people all over the city, using in alleyways.”

The needle bins aren't new, but on Sunday, members of the group Safe Seattle shared a Facebook post blasting the idea.

A man who says he's a loyal Chaco customer wrote, “The logic: we won't serve you meat, eggs, dairy, or honey because they're bad for you, but please shoot up heroin in our bathrooms. It’s, like, totally vegan.

We shouldn't pretend this is normal, safe, healthy, or good for our addicted brothers and sisters.”

The post had comments from people who felt strongly on both sides.

On Monday, everyone KIRO 7 talked to at Chaco Canyon supported the needle bins.

“I think it's great,” McKenczie Porritt said. “Having heroin needle receptacles is another way of demonstrating compassion toward living creatures.”

While Chaco Canyon Cafe stands by the decision to have needle receptacles in the bathroom, you wouldn't know it unless you went in the bathroom.




The bins aren't advertised anywhere.

KIRO 7 anchor John Knicely asked Coyne if he thinks the bins encourage people to shoot up.

“You know we don't want people to be doing that,” Coyne said. "We don't know that people are going to be using a needle in the bathroom.”

He says the bins help protect workers from needles being thrown in the trash.

"You know, someone poking themselves with one, or someone reusing them," Coyne said.
"It sort of encourages the safe practice of disposing of them."

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