London campaigns for tap water to be free

28 February 2008 by
London campaigns for tap water to be free

A campaign calling on London's hospitality operators to serve free tap water has been met with a mixed response from the industry.

Thames Water and the Mayor of London last week launched the "London on Tap" drive to promote the quality of the capital's tap water and to highlight the impact of bottled water on climate change and the environment.

Andrea Riding, relationship manager at Thames Water, said that while the campaign would be aimed predominantly at the high street, organisers were hoping to attract high-end operators as well. "It's not about forcing restaurants to stop selling bottled water altogether but rather about encouraging them to offer their customers a choice without having to feel embarrassed about it," she said.

Food critic Egon Ronay branded the campaign as "naïve" but chef Aldo Zilli, who has banned all bottled water from his London restaurants, told Caterer the move had been met with an "amazing" response.

"Diners are saying this is the best thing ever and they love the fact that they no longer have to feel embarrassed about ordering tap water," he said.

However, Zilli warned that there would be financial implications from stopping the sale of bottled water, which he sold at £4 per bottle.

Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, agreed and warned that restaurants might be forced to raise other prices if profits fell on the back of a drop in sales of bottled water. "Operators will have to take a commercial decision and may have to raise the mark-ups on food or other items," he said.

By Kerstin Kühn

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