Toronto restaurant faces backlash for ‘no tap water’ policy

A Toronto resident recently recounted a surprising experience from a dinner outing at one of her favourite upscale Italian restaurants. Despite the establishment’s reputation and multiple locations in Montreal and Toronto, the patron and her dining companions were met with an unexpected and unwelcome policy: “No tap water allowed!”

On March 29, Elise Burton, a member of the Food and Wine Industry Navigator Facebook group, shared her encounter with the community. However, she couldn’t disclose the restaurant’s name due to the moderator rules of the Facebook page, which prohibit revealing restaurant names.

“Asked our server for some iced tap water. We were told “No. We do not serve tap water. You must buy a bottle of sparkling or spring water,” she recounted. 

Stunned by the policy, Burton asked to speak with the manager, who explained that it was a new policy by management and he could do nothing about it.

The “livid” Burton, asked the Facebook group, “Is this a new thing?” She expressed her disappointment at being unable to enjoy a simple glass of tap water, despite planning to order other items from the menu.

Burton’s post sparked a lively discussion in the Facebook group, garnering over 200 comments. Many members sympathized with her frustration, questioning the restaurant’s motives and sharing their own experiences or advice on how to address similar situations.

“How does one deny a guest something simple and free and still believe they are in the “hospitality” business,” said one member.

Another member, a former server also shared their thoughts. “That will be the day when I EVER buy bottled water in a restaurant or anywhere else for that matter and I worked as a server for many years.”

“It’s typical to be offered sparkling or flat water from a bottle in Italian eateries. Good way to get you to pay for water without telling you. And that’s fine. But you cannot refuse someone water in any establishment serving alcohol,” said another member. “I do definitely empathize with the cost of operating etc. but this is just not the way to go. I would straight up just never go back”

Burton’s experience underscores the significance of hospitality and customer service in the restaurant industry, particularly as diners become more selective due to rising costs.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO