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Nov 24, 2011 03:05 AM

Elisir : Water Surcharge -- seriously

"""Please note, though, that there will be a 29-cent surcharge on water since Elisir is only serving the filtered kind.""

Seriously? The tasting menus are $75 and $95 and they are adding a surcharge of 29 cents for filtered water? Who thought of this brilliant idea?

Is this for real, or a publicity stunt?

Is this a trend for DC? Do other places here add a surcharge for "filtered" water? If so, what does that say to you about the restaurant owner's concept of customer relations? Surely this will generate a bit of a bad taste, no?

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  1. Is that 29 cents per glass? Or 29 cents for as much as you can drink? Or do they just add 29 cents to every bill whether you ask for water or not?

    Earlier this year I posted about the growing disappearance of free water at McDonald's and got zero compassion from Chowhounds who chastised Moi for expecting something for nothing. Someone posted in that thread that a McD's in Las Vegas was now charging 27 cents for a water cup.

    I guess the trend is growing, but 29 cents extra on a $100 dinner does seem a bit silly, as does watching the chef on television during dinner. What will they think of next? Special Thanksgiving dinner menu with a surcharge for stuffing?

    1 Reply
    1. re: MikeR

      "There will be a 47-cent surcharge on air since we are using only the conditioned kind."

    2. 29 cents seems minimal. If it bothers you, don't go. I prefer paying 29 cents for filtered water than $6-$10 for bottled water.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Worldwide Diner

        Ya see? See? They just don't have any sympathy with this. By the way, I tend to gravitate to Chinese restaurants that don't charge for tea, too. And if they charge for tea, I drink water. If they charged for water, I'd go elsewhere.

        There are some things that I just expect from a restaurant, and free water is one. Maybe I'm just not worthy.

        1. re: MikeR

          I have sympathy. It's extreme. While I understand that they've paid for a filter and have to wash the glasses after, it's part of the restaurant experience and should be considered part of their overhead.

      2. Anybody who is willing to spend $75-100 pp for a meal, before wine, has no right to complain about a 29 cent surcharge for the water.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dinwiddie

          I disagree. I think they have every right to complain, or at least be upset. If the restaurant is getting $100 for the mean, they can darn well give me a glass of water as part of the service.,

          Give 'em a little leeway and next thing you know they'll be charging for forks and knives.

          1. re: MikeR

            Agreed. Because customers are paying $75-100 pp is precisely the reason to complain. To be nickel-and-dimed for filtered water after spending significant money there is ludicrous and a slap in the face.

            This is a PR disaster and obvious boneheaded move. The response from the restaurant solidified how obnoxious this move is. It sometimes shocks me how detached some restaurants and managers are to their customers.

            1. re: MikeR

              right they could put one less bit of cress or parsley or slice of tomato or lemon on the plate to make up the difference!

          2. i find it amazing that some folks think it is fine and acceptable to them for a restaurant to tack on a paltry charge after the somewhat disparate audacity (whether merited or not, but obviously disproportionate in the max) of their $75-95 tasting menu! i can't quite comprehend that.

            but i love it!

            hey mike, there are many who will never comment on this thread for various reasons. don't give up hope, bro!

            common sense is still is ALIVE!!!!

            and i'm still waiting -- actually -- for someone who knows whether this is a trend in d.c., rather than the "if you don't want to go there" folks. yeah, i got that. thanks for the heads up.

            5 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              I think the $.29 surcharge is not worth the negative commentary that the listed menu addition is bound to produce; just raise the menu charges by $1.00 and say we only serve filtered water for your enjoyment.

              1. re: alkapal

                Places like this usually have complimentary bread/butter service or serve a complimentary amuse bouche. Surely those cost more than .29! Seems like a silly charge to me.

                1. re: sherriberry

                  I'm with the original poster. There are some items that should be included in overhead. Next, I suppose, is your choice of a 3 cent surcharge for a paper cup, or a 20 cent surcharge for glassware washing services.

                  1. re: shortorder2

                    If your margins are set to your plan and you are achieving a positive variance, you can give away whatever you think will build gross sales. water, amuse bouche, foot massages, etc. it does not matter as long as the above conditions are met or exceeded.

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      The meaningn of the .29 charge is they have an oversized self-image and wish to send a passive-aggressive nasty message to their customers. They are telling us they don't want us, don't need us and wish we would not think of them as service providers in a desperate attempt to appear valuable. The .29 message is F... ...

              2. I expect to pay 29c for clean water.

                Just like I expect to rent a menu for 15c, and pay 25c for a napkin. While you're at it, waiter, can I rent a chair, and maybe a fork?

                7 Replies
                1. re: wayne keyser

                  don't forget to keep quarters for the elevator - 5c/person/floor.

                  1. re: hill food

                    And also don't forget to tip your waitress, and your runner, and your busperson, and your wine steward, and the bartender. Pretty soon that $100 meal gets to be sounding like the cheapest part of a dinner out.

                    Hey, you know, somebody has to CHANGE that water filter now and then. Gotta pay your share for that service, too.

                    1. re: MikeR

                      The beauty of this great Country is ,(for now), you are not being forced to patronize any establishment that does not appeal to you ...whatever the reason. In a free Capitalist marketplace; there will always be someone/company to replace the business that does not satisfy the consumer!

                      1. re: ospreycove

                        Motherhood and Apple Pie!

                        Of course we're not forced to patronize any establishment that doesn't appeal to us, but we are also not forced to keep our observations about the absolutely stupid foibles of establishments who presumably want to attract patrons.

                        I doubt that this restaurant will fail because nobody will go there because they charge 29 cents for water. Heck, some people don't even care about water and may not notice. And, at $75-$100 for a meal, I wouldn't go there even if they paid me 29 cents or even five dollars to drink their "filtered" water.

                        Still, I think this is a silly policy. For a restaurant to suggest that they're running so close to margin that even at their dinner prices, they feel need to charge a paltry amount for what's usually free tells me that either they're appealing to a more snobbish clientele who would be proud to light their cigars with a $20 bill, or that they need a better business plan.

                        1. re: MikeR

                          Ahh, yes In this Great Country,(for now), the First amendment is still alive and well;although recently, a little battered.

                      2. re: MikeR

                        And, by the way, you have the table for exactly 90 minutes. Prepare to eat and move along.

                    2. re: wayne keyser

                      It's like the restaurants are taking a page out of the airlines' book!