Once upon a time, requesting water in a restaurant meant tap water. But in recent years bottled water has represented one of the most profitable items a restaurant can sell. Concerns about the environment and sustainability have led to an increased focus on water and the options available to restaurants. With more and more bottled water being certified as carbon neutral, restaurants face a myriad of options—bottled or filtered, and how to charge for it or not charge at all?
Atera, a two-star Michelin restaurant in NYC, offers their customers still or sparkling filtered water. They rely on the Natura filtration system, which is available for rent or sale. According to General Manager Matthew Abbick, the cost is a few hundred dollars every six months for filter changes and maintenance and they run through about $60 of CO2 a week for sparkling water. He adds that they do keep San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna bottled water on hand for when someone insists on bottled water or in case the taste of the filtered water doesn’t suit them.
For Atera, offering filtered water is a luxury that is a step up from tap water, and since it’s “a basic need” they prefer not to charge for it. Their prices do include a service charge, however, which can help support the extra service.
The Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which runs an eclectic group of restaurants including Babbo and Del Posto, serves sparkling and still Vero Water from reusable glass bottles. According to Elizabeth Meltz, Director of Environmental Health for the restaurant group, they wanted to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping lots of heavy glass overseas. She says that not having tons of glass bottles to store is a huge plus, and not having to recycle all those bottles is also incredible for the bottom line and the environment. Likewise, San Francisco’s Waterbar and Epic Steak also provide Vero Water. Managing Partner Pete Sittnick echoes the same concerns, adding that doing so eliminates the hassle of storing bottled water. At his restaurants the costs are considered overhead and are not passed off to the guests. [Read more…]