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Bottled Water

all know that when you’re at the supermarket and convenience
store your options runneth over with about a zillion choices
of water. Perrier paved the way years ago and then Evian
followed suit and now there’s no end to the selections.
There’s water with bubbles, water with vitamins, flavored
water, mountain spring water, there’s even water with
caffeine available. But what about in bars and restaurants?
For a long time it seemed the well was running dry in terms
of options but there’s a shift afoot and bottled water has
caught on like a house on fire. People want water, and water
that doesn’t come from the tap. Nationwide, the bottled
water business is a multi-billion dollar industry and
on-premise places are getting in on that action. According
to the International Year of Fresh Water 2OO3 website,
consumption of bottled water in the world increases by 12%
every year. Furthermore, here in the US, 54 % of Americans
regularly drink bottled water.

Water profits
What a sublimely basic way to increase sales: offer bottled
water. But is it working? What’s changed and have sales
increased? “Restaurants and bars are always looking for ways
to increase profits, and bottled water is a great way to do
this,” explains Joy Richard of Boston’s Tremont 647
restaurant. Richard also indicated that the standard issue
tap water goblet has been reinvented, or at least expanded
on, via the bottled option. From the classic French Perrier
to the hip Norwegian Voss, people have gotten wise to water
and, given the choice, are more than happy to part with a
few extra dollars and partake of it. Richard adds that,
“most full service restaurants offer water to every guest,
and where there were no profits to be made in this demand
before, there are increasing ways to meet the demand and
increase your check average at the same time. Restaurants
and bars can offer expensive imported waters to guests who
are willing to spend the extra dollar.” Mary Palmer, Manager
of downtown Boston’s Silvertone Bar & Grill agrees
saying, “From an industry standpoint, it creates a new,
strong profit center for bars/restaurants that didn’t exist
as little as five years ago.” Furthermore, the demand for
bottled water transcends one kind of restaurant; people want
it everywhere. Jane Lazgin, Director of Corporate
Communications for The Perrier Group says that it’s not just
the fancy restaurants that are realizing the potential
bottled water has. She comments, “For more conventional
types of restaurants, bottled water is becoming better known
and is ordered as a meal accompaniment, much in the European
tradition, as a complement to wine service. It’s also
ordered frequently as a lunchtime beverage.”


you know that there are seven categories of bottled
water? provided a wealth of
information including the following:

Water is water that comes from a well that taps a
confined aquifer in which the level stands at some
height above the aquifer.

Water is another name for bottled water. It must be
calorie-free and sugar-free.

Water is water containing not less than 25O parts
per million total dissolved solids. It has a
constant level and relative proportions of mineral
and trace elements at the point of emergence from
the source.

Water is water that has been produced by
distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or
other suitable resources.

Water is water that after treatment and possible
replacement with carbon dioxide contains the same
amount of carbon dioxide that it had at an
emergence from the source. (Note that soda water,
seltzer water and tonic water are not considered
bottled water and are regulated

Water is water that is derived from an underground
formation from which water flows naturally to the
surface of the earth.

Water is water from a hole bored, drilled or
otherwise constructed in the ground, which taps the
water of an aquifer.

just something special about a good, chilled bottle of water
and if presented with the option, more and more customers
are saying, “Actually, yes, bottled would be great.” The
thing is, they need to be asked in the first place for this
to pay dividends. There are as many reasons as there are
types of water that people like to order it. “It has been an
alternative beverage for those who don’t drink alcohol and
want something besides an ordinary glass of water,” says
David Alphonse, VP of Beverage for the Back Bay Restaurant
Group. While some diners will always opt for old-fashioned
tap, you’d be surprised how many people really do want the
good stuff for one reason or another. “Our servers always
offer bottled or tap water to each table and often guests
might feel cheap if they order tap,” says Richard. Then
there’s the set that has health concerns. Richard explains
it this way: “Tap water is very inconsistent in purity and I
think people really think about that more nowadays.”
Alphonse echoes this sentiment: “It provides safety for
those who might be afraid of town water systems.” More and
more, customers are asking that tap water be taken out of
the equation of their dining experiences. “It offers the
patron a cleaner, fresher product than tap water and appeals
to those who are looking for higher quality beverages in
general,” adds Silvertone’s Mary Palmer. “Dirty Water,” is
no longer just a song played at Fenway Park when the Red Sox
win, but something people really think about. There are many
schools of thought on the purity and safety of both tap and
bottled water, and as you can imagine extensive studies have
been done on both. Some think tap is fine; others wouldn’t
drink it if their life depended on it. The Environmental
Protection Agency reigns supreme over tap water and the Food
and Drug Administration lords over the bottled water biz.
There is so much scientific study information available that
illustrates all the positives and negatives of both tap and
bottled water that your head will spin. However when the
spinning stops, you’d be wise to have bottled water
available to your clientele. People want it, for both social
and health reasons so it only makes sense to stock

pizza joints to fine dining establishments, consumers like –
and want – their bottled water. “I would guess bottled water
sales at Silvertone constitute about 5 to 8% of our
non-alcoholic beverage sales,” says Palmer. These numbers
are likely to continue to grow as more and more customers
thumb their noses at tap water and demand the bottled stuff.
“I think the water category is so big, and will continue to
grow, because there is demand for it, pure and simple,” she
adds. Joy Richard sees the growth potential as well: “I see
a lot of new water companies making their way into the
market and doing quite well. There is such a high demand for
bottled water today that the market seems to be limitless in
its growth.” The message is as clear as a glass of Dasani:
Stock it, chill it and sell it. Lazgin points out that as
far as non-alcohol beverages go, bottled water is second
only to soda, and it continues to make a significant dent.
“Many choose bottled water as an alternative to beverages
that may contain sugar, caffeine, sweeteners, alcohol or
other ingredients they may be seeking to moderate or avoid,”
she explains. “It gets the job done of quenching thirst,
with no negatives.”

what about all those new fangled flavored waters that many
bottlers are including in their water lines? While many do
well in the supermarket and convenience store realm,
opinions vary about where it fits in the bar and restaurant
industry. “In my opinion, flavored waters do not lend to a
bar setting. Why offer flavored water when you can add fresh
fruit to a non-flavored water? I don’t see flavored water
becoming popular as an on-premise offering,” comments Mary
Palmer. However there is more than one side to the flavor
coin as Sarah Livesey, Manager of Blue Ginger in Wellesley
points out: “I think that there is on-premise market
potential for sparkling flavored water. An old standby for
guests at lunch is the ‘club soda with a splash of cranberry
and lime.’ Flavored sparkling waters would tap into that
segment of the population that is looking for a lightly
nuanced, low calorie, non-alcoholic accompaniment to their
meal.” David Alphonse’s take on it is plain and simple: “I
don’t see flavored waters doing well in restaurants because
it could interfere in the flavors of food.” Flavored water
will be something to keep an eye on.


a crash course on water’s health

Again, came through with some
compelling stats.

many of us are not drinking enough water to keep up
with our caffeine and alcohol intake. It’s
recommended almost universally that we should drink
8 glasses of water a day. But there’s a catch; you
have to essentially cancel out every caffeinated or
alcoholic beverage with more water in order to stay
ahead of the curve. Next to oxygen, nothing is more
important to the body than H2O. Dehydration is no
picnic yet many people frequently run the risk of
it. Another interesting point is that there is a
gap between the body’s need for hydration and the
actual sensation of thirst. All the more reason to
keep up with your water intake throughout the day.
Here are some sobering hydration facts. 75 % of
Americans are chronically dehydrated. In 37% of
Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it
is often mistaken for hunger. Even a slight case of
hydration will slow the body’s metabolism down by
as much as 3%. Lack of water tops the lists as the
#1 trigger of daytime fatigue. 8 to 1O glasses of
water a day could significantly ease back and joint
pain for up to 8O% of sufferers. If your body water
drops just 2%, it could trigger fuzzy short-term
memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty
focusing on the computer screen or on a printed
page. Drinking just 5 glasses of water a day
decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45% and it
can lower the risk of breast cancer by 79% while
also decreasing the risk of bladder cancer by

to the LAST DROP

Bottled water continues to skyrocket. It is ubiquitous for
many reasons. From style to health, all signs point to
continued growth. Fizz or no fizz, consumers have indicated
that they want it, and they want it everywhere. According to, there are 165 brands of domestic bottled
water, and globally over 29OO. Massachusetts restaurants are
serving up a good variety. Imports and domestics both do
well and the future is nothing but bright. It’s not a
passing fad; it’s here to stay. Give the people what they
want, give them bottled water. Hendy David Thoreau said it
best: “Water is the only drink for a wise man.”


What about from a retail standpoint? What’s happening with
bottled water at the liquor store? Are people putting it
into their carts or passing right by it en route to the
tequila and red wine? A chat with Gary Park, owner of Gary’s
Liquors in Chestnut Hill shines some light on the subject.
Park says that yes, absolutely bottled water is a viable
entity in his store. Perrier and especially Pellegrino all
but fly off the shelves and Park goes through over 5O cases
a week on average. “Water is something that people use more
frequently than liquor,” he explains. Park’s secret is that
he sells it for less than the wholesale clubs or
supermarkets and that keeps people coming back. Furthermore,
when the safety of tap water is run up the flagpole, the
numbers go up. “Every time there is a local scare with water
our sales go crazy.” As far as retail goes, it’s all about
the bubbles and the sparkling outsells the still nine to
one. According to Park, still water tends to not have the
same following and people aren’t as brand loyal. Lastly
there’s the social appeal of bottled water. “It’s very chic
to have when you’re entertaining to put bottled water out,
it’s a lot classier than tap,” says Park.