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Restaurant refuses to serve tap water

Recently at lunch my DH and I ordered glasses of water to drink with our meals. Our server informed us that they did not serve tap water and that if we wanted water we would have to buy a bottle. I knew that there was nothing wrong with the local water, so was flabbergasted. Has anyone else ever run into this?

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  1. That's interesting, given the growing *green/sustainability* awareness that bottled water is a resource drain. I was googling to confirm that NYC had a law requiring tap water service and came across this about restaurants dropping bottled and serving filtered carafes.
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/...

    and a Bruni blog piece about being refused tap water in an NYC restaurant
    http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

    3 Replies
    1. re: pitu

      Many restaurants "push" bottled water but NYC has the best and purest tap water in the world. If a restaurant didn't "serve" tap water, I'd leave.

      1. re: pitu

        yeah, sounds like it's going to be the new big trend. here's another article from a canadian magazine.
        http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?co...
        that's neat that restaurants can just buy a carbonator to add bubbles to tap water- most of the bottled water i sell is sparkling.

        1. re: excuse me miss

          Is it just me or is that Macleans' article unbelievably dismissive and patronising, as if tap is a "trend"? I hate Macleans so much of the time...

          We have YUMMY tap water in Calgary and since the source is the cold, cold Bow River, we never have to worry about the nasty geosmin-caused mustiness in summer months that you have in eastern Canada, and even in the hottest parts of July and August, the tap runs ice cold- delicious, delicious stuff. Problem is when I ask for tap water I get a teensy 12-oz styrofoam cup and the person behind the counter never lets the tap run long enough for it to reach icy perfection. So I have sometimes bought a bottle of water just because I know it will be more than a dribble and will be cold. Kudos to places that don't do this- and extra marks to Midori Sushi here (17th Ave and 9 St SW, Calgary), which gives you a big 24-oz tumbler of tap water with ice and a lemon wedge when you ask for "plain" water. They always get big tips from me for that extra bit.

      2. after spending two years traveling the world trying to bring clean water to water-starved areas, the idea that a resto in the USA has the audacity to charge for this resource would make jfood pull a Snagglepuss...."exit stage left". How dare they? What's next a surcharge if the custo wants a second knife or fork?

        2 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Redchile wonders if there would be a BYOB for water.

          Would there be a cappage fee?

          1. re: jfood

            >>> What's next a surcharge if the custo wants a second knife or fork?

            Don't give them any ideas, pl-ea-se! :-p

            Bad enough was a few years ago McD's was contemplating a 5-cent charge for extra napkins and condiment packs. In some cases let private owned ones do as they pleased.

          2. what city was this restaurant in? i've never heard of such a thing. did you end up buying a bottle?

            having been a server for a long time i don't like jumping to the conclusion that the server was trying to pull a fast one on you. however, having worked with dishonest servers in the past who would try to tell people their only option was bottled water, i would have asked to speak to a manager and confirm the restaurant's policy. maybe 2 glasses of ice water would have magically appeared after that.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rebs

              This was at a little place called The Notch Bakery in Southwest Harbor, Maine. When I asked if they didn't have running water from which to fill a couple of glasses, the (young) waitress snapped at me: "There's no need for attitude!" I have to say that this really bad service was an abberation -- all the other folks we ran into in Maine were friendly and helpful.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Holy #*$&! Please tell me you said something to the owner/manager about the attitude she gave YOU?

                1. re: pikawicca

                  if you tipped more than .01 you are crazy... I would have walked OUT at that point and not left a DIME.

              2. A basic provision of any health code in the US is that any establishment that invites the public is required to provide unfettered access to potable water - with the exception of Dry Tortugas National Park, because there isn't any. If my waiter would not bring me tap water I would fetch my own from a rest room sink, and later share my tip with me. How much unvarnished extortion can the industry cram down the dining public? They seem to be plumbing the depths without consequences.

                1. I ran into this once in a bar and I'll never go there again - I'd spent $20 on drinks over a few hours and then asked for a glass of water - I was informed that it was their policy to only serve (sell) bottled water. That 20 was the last they'll ever get from me.