Anyone who has ever visited a restaurant in the US will have noticed and likely apprecaited the availability of free tap water with their meals. The practice, according to internet daily iDNES, appears to have caught on in some Czech restaurants with a caveat or two - namely that you often have to ask if you want to receive. Tap water usually isn't offered as a matter of course and is rarely mentioned in the menu. Or if it is, it isn't free.
According to iDnes, restaurants in the Czech Republic have gotten better about serving clients tap water in their establishments, something frowned upon by many a waiter or proprietor not that long ago. The daily cited a study by lunchtime.cz that since 2012 the number of establishments willing to pour customers a glass of tap water rose by more than one-third, from a lowly 13 to the current 35 percent. It is even higher - 40 percent - in two of the country's 14 regions, Usti and South Bohemia. In all, that translates into more than 3,000 domestic establishments across the country. Although many who visit Czech restaurants or especially pubs are still more likely to order a beer, anyone with children will may appreciate the availability of tap water over the usual marked up choices: either soft drinks or juice drinks. The hitch is that you usually have to ask. In some establishments, it is free, in others it can cost a few crowns, in rare cases a few dozen.
But most customers still don't think to ask, apparently. In the study, one proprietor willing to serve tap water at an establishment in Karlovy Vary, said he remembered only one person asking for tap water over the course of the entire year. Another, at a Prague restaurant which used to offer pitchers of water dropped the service due to a general lack of interest.
Then, of course, there are still a majority of restaurants which don't offer tap water at all. It isn't hard to gauge why: bottled water costs restaurants only a few crowns, so the profit is considerable, the case being similar for soft drinks. It's no secret that many establishments make more off the beverages than the meals they sell. A bottle of cola which costs an establishment 13 crowns sells for 30 or 40. Who wants to give that up? Many fear that offering tap water will only cut into their margins.
Others offer tap water, but also offset demand by also offering attractive alternatives, the most popular being homemade 'limonady' or homemade softdrinks. Flavours such as raspberry, ginger, fruit or cucumber have found a fairly robust clientele.
At the same time, most restaurants contacted by iDNES said after beginning to offer tap water they had not registered a drop in profits, suggesting tha customers who quench their thirst before the meal, are still willing to order bottled beverages during or after. Others, didn't worry about offering tap water at all, seeing the cost as minimal, saying it wasn't a problem.