As consumers become more environmentally conscious restaurants are taking note and looking for better ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Many restaurants are doing this by placing increased focus on drinking water, and specifically by eliminating traditional bottled water from the menu, which sends a message to consumers that the restaurant is clamping down on unsustainable practices.
At Los Angeles’ fine-dining spot Patina, Martin Riese, a certified water sommelier, has built a substantial spring and mineral water menu with 20 bottled varieties that range from $8 to $20. And at Bar Boulud in New York City, guests are given a selection of tap, filtered, or sparkling water. The restaurant’s sparkling waters are bottled directly at the restaurant using a Vivreau filtering system.
Drew Hamilton, the managing director for Vivreau North America, advocates that—because water takes center stage on the table—it is an opportunity for restaurant operators to make a statement about their environmental stance, and placing bottled water on the table sends a negative message.
“Arguably almost the same thing comes out the tap, so it’s kind of madness that you would need to move this stuff all around the world when you can have it on site,” Hamilton says. “I think people are waking up and becoming more responsible with the choices they are making.”
Michael Madrigale, head sommelier at The Dinex Group’s Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, says water is an important part of the dining experience and drinking clean, filtered water betters that experience.
“Wine will accentuate the food, but water will keep the diner refreshed and get the palate ready for different things to come,” he says. “[Since] not all waters are created equal, you want the purest version possible to make the meal its best.”
The only bottled water Bar Boulud offers is actually created by the Vivreau water system. Filtered and sparkling water from the system can then be served in a bottle with an upcharge to customers, giving the restaurant the chance to make a profit. At Bar Boulud, diners are charged $8 for a bottle of filtered or sparkling water.
Hamilton says consumers are growing more interested in the water they drink and compares the heightened expectations for water to the farm-to-table movement, which focuses on creating transparency in revealing where ingredients come from. Similar to requesting local produce, meat, and seasonings, diners are also looking for clean water with a low environmental impact. Vivreau removes impurities such as chlorine, bacteria, and odors that are sometimes present in the water.