Bar owner complains about customers ordering tap water
A bar owner in Bristol sparked a fierce debate online after she complained about customers ordering tap water instead of paying for drinks.
The debate sparked fury on Twitter when owner Sam Espensen told her followers that asking for tap water with their meals meant they ‘don’t respect her business enough’ to pay for drinks.
Her bar, Bristol Spirit, in Redfield, Bristol, sells naturally infused spirits as well as wines and beers but said that the bar cannot make a profit when people eat food from pop-ups and don’t buy her drinks.
She vented her frustration on Twitter after 14 people asked for a tap water with their meal in one week.
She said: ‘If you just ask for tap water, it feels like you are telling us you don’t value our business enough to buy a drink, which is the reason we exist.
‘If you come to Bristol Spirit and you only drink free tap water – we will not make enough money from your table to break even, let alone turn a profit.’
She went on to say that in her bar that covers 26 people, in the last week they’ve had just 14 people drink tap water.
She said: ‘Over a month that is a significant amount of income – especially in the Summer months and in hot weather when trade drops off.
‘This is because we have food pop-ups, so the majority of the money from the food goes to them – and rightly so.
‘We understand that you may not have a lot of money, but we cannot survive as a business on money from you just eating.
‘We are a bar not a restaurant. If you don’t want to drink alcohol, we have an excellent range of low sugar mocktails and non alcoholic alternatives.’
But not everyone agreed with her post.
Nikos Christo on Twitter said: ‘You are required by law to provide free tap water. Discouraging people from doing so can lose you your license.’
He then went on to say that she should ‘rethink her business model.’
He wrote: ‘Surely this is a business model? If diners are not buying drinks either add a surcharge or ask for a cut of the food takings.
‘Or just do fewer food pop-ups and bring in people another way. You can only support the food pop-ups if you have a sustainable business.’
She did have some people in her corner though.
Louise Trimby wrote: ‘I rarely drink alcohol nowadays but if I go to Bristol Spirit I am going to drink the brilliant booze on offer (as well as enjoy a lovely bar and vibe) it’d be foolish not to.’
Hannah Fowler wrote: ‘Brilliant post!!! Respectfully honest and genuine.’
Jessica Hodge said: ‘People are mad. I frequently drink tap water while eating but totally got that as a bar with pop up food that doesn’t work for you.’
Sam told Metro.co.uk: ‘Sadly though there is also quite a large amount of people who genuinely think that there is nothing wrong with going to a bar and not ordering a drink, whether they’re eating or not.
‘And that is an industry issue we need to address – I certainly don’t have the answers to the problem – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shine a light on it.’
But there is always a positive light nonetheless.
She continued: ‘We’ve also been inundated with support from bars, pubs and restaurants applauding our stance, and many members of the public saying that they hadn’t thought about the consequences of not ordering some sort of drink, and that it will change their behaviour moving forwards.’
Ms Espenden’s bar is an official Refill venue which aims to make it easier to fill up a bottle while on the go.
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