Our Web editor, Vickie Chang, was at Garden Grove's Boiling Crab restaurant last week and noticed a new charge hanging out on her bill: 25¢ per glass of water.
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Not boiling water for tea, not bottled or sparkling water, just Metropolitan Water District Cocktail No. 1.
She objected to the charge. I'm not so sure. It wouldn't be so bad if the food weren't so salty. (Try eating at Boiling Crab and not coming away with a sodium headache.) It used to be that you could cut the salt by buying a loaf of baguette from Banh Mi Che Cali a few doors down for a dollar, but then Boiling Crab stopped allowing that practice.
Restaurants are certainly allowed to recuperate their costs, and the "free" water isn't actually free (it costs the restaurant to wash the dish, to serve and refill the water and, one would hope, to filter the water), but unfortunately for Boiling Crab the prevailing business model in the American restaurant business is against them, and consumers like Vickie object to the "unbundling" of water.
I don't feel very strongly anti-water charge, but it'd be a good business decision (from a customer relations point of view) to find another place to hide that cost.