John Riceburg: Do Berlin restaurants have to give you tap water?




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Different countries different rules

So nobody is interested in why you shouldn't ask for tap water in german restaurants?
The answer is simple, so stop judging poor buisiness owners:
Taxes and rents in Germany are so high, you can't survive a buisiness without selling drinks.
If you go to a restaurant, you don't buy food, you buy service. That is why 19% (!!!) of what you pay is given away for tax. If you just buy food in a store, it has only 7% tax. Drinks are always 19%
So if you enter a restaurant you enter a building where the owner pays rent (a lot of rent actually, 5000€ per month is not high in many cities). You are served by staff that has to be payed minimum wage at least plus taxes, by the owner as well. If you want free water, without ordering anything else to drink it is just impudently, because the owner has to pay the glass, the person who brings it to your table, the water and machine to clean it and the water aswell, wich is payed by additional taxed he has to give away from his own wage at the end of the month for sewage plant and pipes.
So why do you expect people who mostly don't earn as much as their employees, calculated by the hours they work, to give you free service? Just because you are used to it from other countries?
Think about it, other countries, other taxes, wages, rent and costs.

Eva more than 4 years ago

Recycling bottles

After claiming to have lived several years in Germany you should know that all plastic and glass bottles come with a deposit fee and get religiously turned back to the store for the deposit and recycled. Soda and beer cans are treated the same way and maybe you should pay attention to "der gruene Punkt" in every packaging that means you have to throw the trash in the yellow trash bin or collect it in the yellow trash sack!
So where is your problem with the bottlle - even the plastic ones get reused several times before being recycled to become bottles again.
I am not sure where you have been going with your plastic bottle - bad for the enviroment - comment.
And now to tap water in restaurants - the margin on drinks usually pays the wages, health and unemployment insurance for every employee. Yes the part time ones to. And they all have a minimum of 24 days of payed vaccation!!! Maybe free refils and free water are a price to high to pay if the the waitress has to beg customers for Tipos because she only gets $ 3.and-change an hour and has no social net that will catch her if she is sick or unemployed.
So suck it up and pay your drink!

Magdalena more than 5 years ago

Tap water

In the States I only drink bottled water in restaurants because I don't want to drink from a swimming pool. The water tastes terrible and even a long drink is awful because of the chlorine taste

Chris more than 5 years ago

whiney tourists/spoiled expats

WAH WAH! it doesnt work like home! WAH!

grow up. you aren't home, so get over the lack of service and no free water and no ice and get used to the idea that if it's your problem, then YOU deal with it.
you want free water? stay home and cook.
last week some expat couple came into a place where people were smoking. complained and got laughed and insulted out the door by everyone in the place. i'm sure there are some bitchy posts somewhere from that indignant expat couple but it's germany and they don't care.

tired of spoiled expats which is most of you who have been here <4 years. oh and plastic gets recycled here....or do you still not seperate your garbage?

mark more than 5 years ago

Mark is well named.

His water purchases paid for the Berliner Schloß,

Ygor more than 5 years ago

Let's talk about water

No need to be 4 years here to see that Mark has some frustration issues in his life..
What about discussing the topic itself instead of tackling the opinion just because it comes from a foreigner? Bringing up some arguments about how customers ought to be treated and the right of access to water in modern capitalism? Or why it is in Berlin's tradition not to offer water to its guests maybe?
Hate posts are so boring..

Nathan more than 5 years ago

see above

please see magdalena's comment above why you pay for your drinks in this country, including water. it's not just berlin. every major city and every gemeinde i have visited or worked in it is highly discouraged to order tapwater.

and i stand by my newbie outsider comments. this level of complaining from working "tourists" is standard and comes across as incredibly pretentious. oh, but you marvel at the social system. yup, it's paid for partially by your drink purchases.

mark more than 5 years ago


Mark, your hostile and snide response to a perfectly valid article sums up the all-too-typical Berlin attitude to customer service. Unless people complain about poor customer service, it will never improve. It really doesn't matter who is doing the complaining: a tourist or someone who has lived here for a few years.

Berlin has both great tap water and a great reputation for environmentalism. If a greedy restaurant does not respect those factors, as well as respect the customer, it does not deserve to survive. I usually write scathing reviews on TripAdvisor when restaurants won't serve me tap water. Hitting these greedy establishments financially will make them eventually improve their customer service, or go out of business.

Reasonable Rosie more than 5 years ago

see magdalena's comment

i'm sorry, but if we are going to talk about customer service, it frankly sucks on the continent. complaining about it like a bunch of entitled 16 year old girls will not get you anywhere here and saying it's a berlin problem shows how often you get out of the blackhole called berlin. in fact one of the charming things in germany after living here for a while, is going to that great little place with that ridiculously bad service. i would never have expected that of myself in my first few years but yes, as an example, i have a favorite little place in munich where the food is to die for and the staff are useless, arrogant asses...and strangely enough it adds to the atmosphere of the place.

berlin does not have a great reputation for environmentalism. there are a lot of people here who talk the talk and post on social media. a place like freiburg has a great actual environmental record.

and regarding the "greedy restaurant", have you actually worked one before and seen how tight the books are usually? magdalena explains it perfectly above. that social system you most likely adore here is possible because people pay everywhere, through the nose for things. whether that be taxes or by paying full price for your drinks, including water. thats why you don't tip 15-20% here. they get paid a half decent wage with perks and you, the customer pay for it.

toto, you aren't in kansas anymore

mark more than 5 years ago

replying to a retard

That's why you don't tip? Lol, what?

Shove your social system up your ass, idiot.

keyser more than 1 year ago

Bad research,7169128,20960310.html

Champ more than 5 years ago

Cafe Nazca across from S Charlottenburg

"I'll have a slice of the spanish tortilla."
"Anything else?"
"Could I have a small Leitungswasser?"
"aHA. Umm, no!"
"You need to buy something, like a coffee. I can't just give you a water."
-Because that would be ridiculous.

Tom more than 5 years ago

Wok Show

At Wok Show, at Greifenhagener Str. 31, they charged me 50cent for a glass of water from the tab. Lame. I'm not coming back.

Igna more than 5 years ago

Cry me a river

They do the best Wan Tans in Berlin and charge ridiculously little for them. And you're too greedy to buy some water there (which by the way is not expensive either). Lame. Thanks for not bothering to go there again.

Dendra more than 5 years ago

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