Yesterday I had lunch at popular Park Slope lunch spot and I wanted water. I have a cold and I was feeling dehydrated. So when the waiter brought the menu I asked for water and he said, “Sure.” A few minutes passed and no water came. Another waiter walked by me and as I was getting thirstier and thirstier I asked him if I could have some water. “No problem,” he said. Minutes passed. Then the first waiter came to take my order. I ordered my sandwich (ham, brie, apple and mustard: yum!) and asked again, as politely as I could, for water. A few minutes later it came, but only after he brought food out to another couple and took another table’s order.

I’ve had this happen in other restaurants too. Tap water earns the restaurant no money, it earns the waiter no greater tip. Sure, a server wants to make a good impression on the customer but somehow when a customer orders tap water there’s a always a sense of disappointment. I’ve had very aggressive servers in the past ask, repeatedly, if I was sure I didn’t want anything else to drink. Selling drinks accounts for a huge bulk of a server’s tip, so I understand the motivation, but at the same time if somebody only wants water you should bring them water. And usually that happens, but yesterday was the exception.

A good solution is the one that they use at Mary’s Fish Camp, right across the street from where I was yesterday. They bring a large glass bottle of tap water over to the table and two empty glasses so you have at least six glasses of water right there in front of you at the start of your meal. You don’t have to ask for it: the host or hostess just puts it on the table when you sit. More and more, I notice restaurants doing this and it’s a good idea. It saves the waiters time, it saves the customer the embarrassment of having to ask repeatedly for tap water.

In conclusion, many people are thirsty in this world and water helps to quench that thirst. If you own a restaurant, give your customers water. We’ll be very grateful and maybe we’ll even order dessert.

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