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Sep 30, 2007 10:37 AM

Won't give me water with my meal???

I recently paid $8 for two fish tacos in Malibu, which were very good, but I was angered when they refused to give me a glass of water with my meal. "Only bottled water", he said.

Have you encountered this? Do this make you as furious as me?

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  1. I posted about having a similar experience in Maine this summer. "Furious" doesn't begin to describe how I felt! We left, and found somplace else to spend our food dollars.

    1. A "Subway" restaurant here in Wilmington, Delaware, tried to charge me 40 cents for a cup of water a few months ago. I was prepared to buy a sub sandwich, but when I heard the news, I got up and left. They don't even offer bottled water. I had been a customer since the 60's but never again. Besides, there are much better sub shops around here than "Subway"!

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChrisInDELAWARE

        The cup is where most of the expense is for restaurants that offer take away food in regards to beverages. I doubt it costs as much as 40 cents but the cost of the cups, lids and straws is not trivial.

      2. A friend of mine owns a cafe in the country and part of her agreement with the health department is not to offer tap water. They are on a well system and the water is approved for cooking but not for serving to drink. Sucks.

        8 Replies
        1. re: mojoeater

          Hopefully she knew this before she purchased the restaurant, or signed the lease! (Sounds like the sort of thing the leaseholder would be obligated to disclose if they knew about it, and if they didn't, I'd be looking to break the lease/cancel the sale and move to another location).

          Yes, it sucks, but the solution seems clear to me. She should offer bottled water at her own cost. (doesn't need to be fancy bottled water, since this is presumably a casual place she could get the Culligan guy to set up a big bottle in the corner....). Otherwise, the negativity that her refusal to offer tap would set off probably isn't worth it in terms of loss of good will...

          but then, it does beg the question: if the water isn't safe to drink, what do the employees wash their hands in? and what are uncooked foods washed in? (All the more reason to offer bottled without charge: I am not sure those are questions you want your customers asking or thinking about!)

          1. re: susancinsf

            It's actually not that big a deal. All the drinks are bottled and people in that area are used to paying for them. They live on the property and drink the water all the time. It's approved for washing and cooking in the restaurant, just not for drinking.

          2. re: mojoeater

            jfood would have a tough time eating in a place that could cook with water you can not drink.

            1. re: mojoeater

              Years ago, I lived on a farm in Virginia where we used well water. The board of health constantly told us that the water didn't ,meet health standards because it wasn't treated. It was the best water I've ever drunk, and no one ever got sick from drinking it.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Ah, ok..That explains everything, pikawicca! Now I understand. Thank you for the clarification!

                1. re: pikawicca

                  It's so lovely to have your own good water. We live on the side of a fairly rocky hill with a deep well. Our water is delicious. I have no idea what the health department might have to say about it.

                  1. re: danna

                    The best water I ever tasted was running in a downhill stream on my BILs property in Wyoming, from a spring way up. Drank plenty of it right out of our hands and weren't worried at all. We had wells when we lived upstate, turned everything red from the iron but we used it anyway! Mankind hasn't always had "city water" readily available but somehow they were not wiped out of existance.

                2. re: mojoeater

                  What does she cook with? Assuming she has a filtration system (I hope!) she should offer tea at least.

                3. If I was refused a glass of tap water I would just walk out.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rednyellow

                    ditto! If they can't spring for water (no pun intended) I'm not going to be a customer.

                  2. I know for a fact, it's AGANST THE LAW, here in Las Vegas to deny any requests for tap water..In any way, shape or form. It must have to do with the fact we are a desert, and temps can get to 115 degrees in the summer. I'm speaking in regards to a resto setting, or bar. Most places have bottled water, of course.

                    I would be flabbergasted if I was denied simple tap water, and would never, ever give my business to any resto that denied this to me!

                    I'm also very confused..How can you cook with, wash hands with, but not SERVE the well water? That seems just..backwards. If it's not "approved" to serve in a glass, why is it okay to do everything else?

                    Pardon my complete ignorance on the subject, but is well water still an option in the US? I would think if it's very, very rural, I could see it, but in the year 2007...Well water?

                    24 Replies
                    1. re: Honeychan

                      I live in MA, woodsy area but not concidered rural unless you come from the city, and almost all of us have wells. My general area, each house lot is at least 2 acres. I live high up and most of the surrounding land is conservation. Never a problem with the water. wells and septic are pretty normal in many MA areas.

                      1. re: Honeychan

                        I have heard this (about LV restaurants being forced by law to serve free water) from other people, but I can find nothing on the web that verifies that. It seems to be an urban myth. Can you provide a link that shows information regarding if that is true or not?

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Doesn't it seem logical to anyone else that if the tap water is not safe to drink, the management could simply post a sign about the issue? And then from there, if they want to offer free bottled or charge for it, that's their choice. But at least it would help to have a notice publicly displayed...???

                          1. re: Servorg

                            At the moment, all I could find online was that they have changed the law, and it's resto only serve water, when asked. (Due to drought conditions)

                            I'm trying my best to find out if there is a city ordinance, or how the law is written in regards to "unlawful to deny drinking what when asked". I'll post more, if I can find out.

                            It very well -could- be a "urban myth", I guess..But, it's a smart one.

                          2. re: Honeychan

                            According to the US Geological Survey, over 45 million Americans use well water. And not just in remote rural areas. The area to which I referred is only 15 minutes from a city. And drinking water has different standards than cooking and washing. Boiling water removes most contaminants, and hopefully you use soap when you wash your hands!

                            1. re: mojoeater

                              Boiling does not remove certain important contaminants, and soap is not the primary cleanser of hands. If you can't drink it, cooking or washing dinnerware with it is not a great idea...

                              1. re: Karl S

                                Cooking with water occurs at such a high temp that I can't imagine what pathogen wouldn't be killed.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Chemical contamination will not be eliminated by boiling the water.

                                2. re: Karl S

                                  Which is why I specifically said I hope she has a water filtration system because she'd be a hypocrite if she cooked with the well water. So if she can serve food with her water, then hot tea should be fine.

                                  1. re: DarthEater

                                    Home water filtration systems will not remove many chemical contaminants And to be more specific, a detailed chemical analysis of the water would need to be performed so the correct filter is present in the system. it's not a one-shoe fits all science.


                                    1. re: jfood

                                      Interesting, but she can still cook and serve food with that water? Unless shes going through gallons of outsourced water a day.

                                      1. re: DarthEater

                                        exactly my point earlier. if you can;t drink the water it is almost inconceivable that she has a filtration system that can filter the resuired water for cooking and cleaning.

                                    2. re: DarthEater

                                      This could be an issue of scale, though - the concentrations of whatever is in her water could be such that the residual amount on hands, food, etc. would not pose much of a risk, but habitual consumption of large amounts in the form drinks could lead to problems further down the line.

                                3. re: Honeychan

                                  I thought that was generally the case across the US?


                                  1. re: Honeychan

                                    this is true in Hawaii in rural areas where the water comes from a catchment system. private homes can use it for whatever they want, and everyone does, no one gets sick. but it is not approved for restaurant use because any water (even for dishwashing I believe) in a restaurant must come from an approved treated source, so they have that water trucked in - but I've never heard of a restaurant refusing to serve whatever "approved" water was available.

                                    1. re: Honeychan

                                      Same thing in Arizona. A restaurant cannot refuse a request for tap water, even if that's all you're ordering.

                                      1. re: ajs228

                                        I would ask you the same as was asked of the poster from Las Vegas: Do you have any source to indicate that this is actually true?

                                        I searched Arizona statutes and regulations and could find no reference.

                                        1. re: FrankJBN

                                          Not at my fingertips, no, but as I recall the law was passed a few years ago (less than 5) as a way to prevent homeless people from dying of dehydration during our brutal summers.

                                          1. re: ajs228

                                            I actually found a web site that says Arizona does have this law on its books. But from what I can see it includes all places of business, not just restaurants.


                                      2. re: Honeychan

                                        I live in the suburbs in Manchester, NH..1 mile from a very large mall and very close to the airport it is not rural at all and I have a well. Actually everyone on my street does. So it is not uncommon at all.

                                        1. re: Honeychan

                                          In most of New England outside of big cities, it's all well water. I've always had it. And we live in the suburbs, not rural at all.

                                          1. re: madisoneats

                                            Well TT having eaten all over can confirm that North Carolina has the best tap water. Every place in NC had good water, and it was free!


                                          2. re: Honeychan

                                            I grew up in CT, not exactly the suburbs, but not totally rural either, pretty standard New England small town. We have a well. I don't actually think we had city water as an option actually. Everyone in my neighborhood have wells. The water is delicious.

                                            1. re: Honeychan

                                              Suburban West/Central NJ. Well water.