We've made a game out of the loud auto-flushers. They did freak dd out. On the other hand, she was pretty freaked out about using an unfamilliar toilet when she first potty trained. Would it hurt to have a few step stools around in public bathrooms?
What did the employees do when you came out of the bathroom? Good for you! Sometimes I let dd tell people in stores that she has to go, when I can tell they're going to be stingy with their toilet. As a 3yo jumping up and down holding herself, grimacing and yelling "I have to pee pee!!!" she makes a very compelling arguement for allowing customers to use their bathrooms.
The nice thing about family bathrooms with BF rooms, especially if the rooms are pleasant, is if you have a spirited antsy older child who doesn't want to wait while you stop to nurse, at least the older child can be occupied and safe. The one family bathroom was called a "family lounge" and the bf room was nicely furnished and well equipped with toys, and was separate from the toilets. When we're out shopping I could lose dd in a second if I look down for a nanosecond. I couldn't imagine what I would do (other than walk--run--chase dd and nurse) if I had another nursling who needed to BF. I do prefer to NIP, and dd is my only one.