Restaurants in the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, have joined a few other restaurants nationwide that have stopped selling bottled water to customers. About 30 restaurants across the U.S. have done this, out of the 945,000 eateries the National Restaurant Association has on record.
And starting this spring, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, City Hall will no longer buy bottled water for employees, planning to cancel about $20,000 in contracts with local vendors.
However, these bans don’t come down to a bottled water versus tap water issue. This is a consumer choice issue. Many people preferred bottled water over tap. Bottles are a great alternative. Some people prefer bottled water for its good taste, convenience and health aspects over more unhealthy beverage choices. By banning bottled water in restaurants, those places could end up hurting business more than they think they are helping it.
Take the example of Tony’s, a AAA five-diamond Italian restaurant in downtown St. Louis:
“A lot of people want bottled water,” said Vincent J. Bommarito, owner of Tony’s in St. Louis. “It’s the first thing we say: Good evening, do you want tap or bottled water?”
Bommarito says his sales of bottled water have shot up in the past decade, though he hesitated to sell it at first.
“It sounded like a hustle — to sell them water when they can get it for free,” he added. “But customers want it.”
Indeed, you can get some water for free. But some people choose to pay for the additional benefits of the bottle.