Those who order tap water to go with their meal often feel virtuous, as it does not carry the hefty calorie count of a beer or the sugar of a glass of fruit juice.
However, one bar owner in Bristol has lambasted health-conscious diners who prefer water with their food and said they are ruining her business.
The co-founder of Bristol Spirit, Sam Espensen, has said that although the bar serves food, customers should all order drinks with their meal.
She tweeted that at least 14 people only drank water at the bar last week, and wrote: “If you come to Bristol Spirit and only drink free tap water – we will not make enough money from your table to break even, let alone turn a profit.
“If you just ask for tap water, it feels like you are telling us you don’t value our business enough to buy a drink, which is the reason we exist.”
The bar owner told Bristol Live: “This is happening across the industry. This is partly down to people wanting to drink healthier or non alcoholic drinks (which is great), but as we offer around 50 different options for those not wanting to drink alcohol it certainly can’t account for all of them.
“So I wanted to highlight to those people that them drinking tap water means we are unlikely to meet the average spend from their visit required to break even or turn a profit.”
She added that offering tap water costs the business money, explaining: “Lastly we are also paying for the dishwasher, the glass, the tea towels to dry it, the bartender, the front of house person, and everything else associated with that glass of water.”
Many replied saying that they order water to go with their food as it does not contain the added sugar of non-alcoholic drinks.
Natalie Palmer tweeted: “Why are you assuming it’s because people can’t afford it? It may boggle your mind but some people actually choose to drink water. I can’t drink alcohol (for medical reasons), don’t drink fizzy drinks & don’t like juices! All I drink is water!”
Joseph Murphy added: “So you’re saying if I buy a 3 course meal and order water then I’m helping to put you out of business?! Some people don’t want a £7 glass of sugar at dinner. I get that you have to make a profit but you’re being unfair on customers that are spending hard earned money on your food”.
Oisin Rogers, who runs The Guinea Grill in London, disagreed with Ms Espensen. He told The Telegraph: “I’ve absolutely no problems giving tap water or soda water for free whatsoever. Never have. Sometimes people are just thirsty and it’s a product we offer to everybody, for free.
“I’m confused and a little dismayed when people who run hospitality businesses criticise their customers for doing what they want to do. We are in the business of making people happy and our businesses should be set up in such a way that when people are happy, we shall turn a little profit.
“Lots of people who come to me have water with bar snacks, most often at lunchtime. I’m totally ok with this, and I’d never consider criticising a guest for their choice to do this. But perhaps that’s just me and I’m doing it wrong!”