Restaurants offering water by request only


— It may take speaking up at some local restaurants for customers to receive a glass of water.

In response to one of the worst droughts in Colorado's history, some area restaurants have changed their serving plans to offer water by request only.

That means people eating at the Rio Grande, Johnny B. Goods Diner and eventually at the Steamboat Yacht Club won't have glasses of water automatically brought to their tables.

"We've been discussing this for a couple years for our other restaurants," Rio Grande manager Doug Mouton said.

"Given this summer that the drought is so bad, we decided to do it," he said.

The restaurant changed its policy earlier this month.

Customers are informed with cards placed on all the tables that say: "Water is precious! You can help conserve," and encouraging those who want water to ask.

When water was served to all customers, a large percentage of it was going down the drain, and it wasn't just the water in the glass, Mouton said.

"All those glasses, whether they were used or not, would have to go through the dishwasher again," Mouton said.

That nearly quadruples the restaurants water consumption for one glass of water served.

The Denver Water Board estimates that four glasses of water are required to wash and rinse one glass.

"That sounds about right," Mouton said.

Johnny B. Goods has been serving water by request only for some time because of the drought.

"It's now kind of become habit," employee Mary Galyean said.

The Steamboat Yacht Club also is adding a similar policy, which will go in affect in a week or so.

The restaurant is in the process of getting cards made to tell their customers to ask for water, manager Liza Scudder said.

She explained officials from the restaurant discussed the issues and decided that it was the right thing to do.

"We didn't want to waste water," Scudder said.

Wait staff at other restaurants said their bosses haven't changed their water-serving policies. However, some employees are serving water by request only anyway, because they are aware of the dry conditions.

Such policies are not uncommon in times of drought.

The Colorado Restaurant Association issued a call to all restaurants in the state last month to stop the practice of serving water automatically because of severe drought conditions.

That has been repeated numerous times in areas where the drought is a problem.

Restaurants in Boulder are urged to conserve water by city officials drought or no drought.

Similarly, several restaurants in Steamboat have standing practices to not serve water automatically with meals. Those include the Tap House, Smokehouse and Winona's.

Winona's has information about its policy written on the back of its menus.

It explains how studies have shown if all restaurants in the United States served water by request only, 7 millions gallons a day would be conserved.

In its eight years of business, Winona's manager Jamie McQuade said the restaurant has never had much of a problem with customers and the policy.

"Every now and then we'll have someone ask about it," she said.

McQuade also said that once the facts are explained about why it's important to conserve water, customers are receptive to the idea.


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