As a former restaurant employee, I’m well aware of the necessity of boosting check averages in order to increase tips. Usually (though not always), the higher your sales, the more money you are likely to make as a server. Anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry before knows that offering guests bottled water is one of several techniques that can help you boost sales.
But the bottled water industry, as of late, has received so much backlash, and in today’s economic recession, fewer people are buying bottled water at restaurants, despite the clever efforts of servers to pressure them into it:
“Sir, do you prefer still, sparkling … or just tap” (said with a slight air of condescension and maybe even a small frown)?
These days, most people are not afraid to say “Charlotte’s (or whatever city you live in’s) finest”, with a confident grin. It was always frustrating to me when I was a server; however, now that I see the absurdity of bottled water (and now that I am thankfully no longer employeed in the food and beverage industry), I have joined the ranks of fellow tap water drinkers. After all, it’s “free”.
I used to receive this question, quite often, however: “Is your water filtered?” Sadly, in the last restaurant I worked in, it was not. You could taste the trace amounts of metal that often give unfiltered water that “tappy” taste. (Looking back, I understand now, why people would ask for water with extra lemon…). Perhaps the reason for serving unfiltered water was simply cost – not paying for foodservice water filters is less expensive, after all… or is it?
What if selling filtered water, by the glass, instead of serving unfiltered water for free, could actually help restaurants boost their sales? Bottled water is ridiculously priced, but if restaurants invested in filtration systems, perhaps they could sell glasses of filtered water for less than a dollar a piece, (refills included?) and still make a small profit off of water sales. At the very least, they could recover the cost of the filtration system, make their customers happier by serving filtered water, and boost their overall reputation if nothing else. If people have the choice between tap for free and filtered for the price of what ultimately amounts to pocket change, I’m willing to bet they’d choose the latter. What do you think?
You could even serve it in a stemmed glass, as this tends to make non-bottled water seem more appealing…