Date: Mar 7th 2014 3:24p.m.
Contributed by: chefhu

There’s been a somewhat disturbing trend brewing in the Shanghai dining industry -- a growing number of restaurants are refusing to serve iced water to customers or are charging money for mugs of hot water.


Perhaps because it’s an American restaurant tradition, or because I still remember what it’s like to be a starving cook, but I have to say that I find the practice pretty low. Water is a necessity of life, and I think one of the most basic tenets of hospitality should be providing free drinking water with your meal.


I don’t like it when restaurants try to pull the “still or sparkling?” line. I know it’s part of the upselling game and an accepted practice for many establishments. I would just prefer you to do your upselling on something that adds value to the meal. Ripping people off with mineral water, on the other hand, just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I once got into an argument with one of my part-time servers a few years back. She told me that restaurants need water revenue to survive. That’s just a load of crap. Restaurants need to provide good value and consistency to survive. Gouging first-time customers with a RMB400 water bill is a pretty quick way to ensure they won’t be coming back again.


Dining out should be an inclusive experience instead of an exclusive one. I know that we are a bit of a reach financially for some of our customers, and some may have to save up a bit to take their loved ones to a nice dinner. As an operator, I’d just much rather they spend their “water budget” on a bottle of wine or a couple glasses of sparkling to celebrate the occasion ...

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