The owner of a small Mexican restaurant in Minneapolis is quickly learning the value of earning Gen Z’s attention—and the importance of bathroom design.

Leave it to Gen Z to take something as commonplace as the design of a small restaurant bathroom and flip it into something millions of people view and care about, plus drive subsequent traffic and sales.

“Nothing can prepare you for what the bathroom looks like,” a TikTok AI-generated voice says over mariachi music while a video shows the interior of Pineda Tacos Plus, a Mexican restaurant in Minneapolis. Colorful art adorns bright yellow walls, and red booths sits below stars and piñatas wearing party hats. Cut to the videographer opening the restroom door handle, leading viewers to a surprising sight: modern gray tiles, gray walls, fake plants, and wall art, including encouraging quotes in stencil letters like “If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”

“There’s a Millennial grey looking restroom in a Mexican restaurant,” sings autotuned TikTok creator @chloeisag. “It’s giving sponsored by Hobby Lobby. It’s giving, it’s giving house flipping // renovated kitchen looking; it’s giving airport; it’s giving live laugh love; it’s giving corporate; it’s giving women’s conference. I’m not trying to hate I’m just trying to say, I didn’t expect a Mexican bathroom to look that way.”

Since February 25, the video has garnered an eye-popping 3.1 million views with nearly 780,000 likes and more than 10,600 comments, ranging from “did YOU just make the SONG OF THE SUMMER???” to “I’m gonna walk down the isle to this song someday.”

@chloeisag Insomnia and it’s consequences. *****spoiler***** No one is safe from the spread of……. millennial grey-core. What are you doing to stop the spread⁉️ #houseflipping #mexicanrestaurant #livelaughlove #hobbylobbyfinds #the1975 ♬ Jarabe Tapatio – (Mexican Hat Dance) – Sr Ortegon

Local Twin Cities media outlets Racket and Sahan Journal picked up the story, with the latter tracking down the maker of the video, 23-year-old Chloe Guild, as well as the owner of Pineda Tacos Plus, Luis Reyes Rojas.

Rojas told Sahan Journal he’s seen an uptick in traffic and sales since the video was posted—plus a lot more people snatching the women’s bathroom keys, likely snapping pics to share with friends. Turns out, it was Reyes’s wife, Patricia Lopez Pineda, who created the design concept and picked out the décor for the bathroom, Sahan Journal reports.

In a follow-up video, Guild shows the exterior of the restaurant and lists the address—330 E. Lake St. in Minneapolis—and shots of the menu, food, and restaurant workers smiling and waving behind the counter while “Millennial Grey” plays in the background.

There’s a reason for restaurants to pay attention to TikTok; if viewers on TikTok believe something is cool, Gen Z customers can be expected to follow. It’s the best kind of advertising a restaurant owner could hope for—free and incredibly impactful.

In January, the National Restaurant Association teamed up with TikTok for an exclusive webinar, offering best practices from making memorable videos to boosting engagement through paid ads. And in February, the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival included a new event focusing on digital content creation, with TikTok influencers accounting for the lion’s share of speakers.

A recent survey by Capterra found that TikTok can be especially beneficial for smaller businesses; 78 percent of small enterprises that ran TikTok ads reported a positive return on investment (ROI) within the last six months. At the same time, three-quarters of businesses using TikTok post non-advertising content, and fewer than two-thirds run ads.

“Users like TikTok because its seemingly endless content feels authentic and unfussy—videos made by real people, for real people. Creating ads that capture the candid nature of organic TikTok content helps businesses blend in and profit,” said Molly Burke, senior retail analyst at software marketplace Capterra, in a statement.

Though, some experts advise operators to use caution when pursuing the channel, given the recent controversy surrounding the app. Two U.S. senators are trying to “ban or prohibit” foreign technology products such as Chinese-owned TikTok in new legislation, and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee recently voted to give President Joe Biden the power to ban TikTok. Plus, more than half of all U.S. states have partially or fully banned TikTok from government devices, according to a CNN analysis.

“By all means, keep an eye on it; consider how the fads … may impact longer term and more impactful behaviors that are relevant to your business, and consider how a reasonable share of budget may be spent on exposure,” Maeve Webster, president of consulting firm Menu Matters, tells FSR. “But I’d counsel against placing too many eggs in a basket that’s teetering on the edge of the kitchen counter.”

Consumer Trends, Feature, Restaurant Design, Technology