Footpulls: Anti-Grubber Device Slow to Take Off

The bathroom doors at Brackets, the sports bar that's taken over the space vacated by Trader Vic's, are equipped with contraptions that allow guests to pull the doors open with their feet.

The rounded metal pulls make good sense at Brackets, where guests are eating pizza and grasping ping pong paddles with their bare hands. But the Fort Worth entrepreneur who came up with Footpulls is surprised more restaurants haven't installed his patent-pending device.

"It's slow," Steve Arnold admits. "It's just kind of nothing to retire over."

Arnold and a Marine Corps buddy alighted on the idea for Footpulls in a truck stop bathroom, where a grubby-looking character made a beeline from the stall to the exit without stopping at the sink. Not wanting their children to touch the contaminated door handle, they noticed the door was broken in such a way that someone could slide a foot underneath it.

"The Footpull is truly a "why didn't I think of that' idea with a wide open future," Arnold wrote in a 2006 press release announcing the product.

"Footpulls may be coming to a restaurant near you," a 2008 local news feature on NBC 5's predicted.

But Arnold says only about 30 restaurants in the DFW area have installed Footpulls, which have steadily dropped in price. Originally priced at $70, Footpulls are now available for about $30 through various restaurant supply distributors. Arnold believes 500 restaurants nationwide have bought a set.

Arnold's resigned himself to never getting rich off Footpulls. He says the Indianapolis facility that produced the first Footpulls overcharged him, wiping out profits from his early sales. He's also now contending with competition: According to Arnold, the team behind StepNpull debuted their design shortly after ordering two Footpulls.

"What can you do?," he asks.

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Hanna Raskin
Contact: Hanna Raskin