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Water Today Title November 20, 2017

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Street Beat

This story is brought to you in part by Seismic Waterfinder

Glass of Water Part2

By: Jessica Lemieux

It is Tuesday June 28th at 12:30pm and I am on day two of my four-day quest. My quest is to go to restaurants, fast-food chains and a few retail shops, in pursuit of a free glass of water. Each day I am in a different part of the city, during a different time of day and am dressed in various ways - while simply asking for a glass of water. Today I am in the East end of Ottawa and will be visiting various locations in Gloucester and Vanier.

On this 22 degree day, I am dressed in fairly casual attire and aiming to hit some restaurants during their busiest lunch and dinner hours. I am starting with Grace O’Malley’s in Gloucester. It is quite busy in the restaurant, so I just seat myself at the bar and wait for the server to come over. Once he does, I declare that all I would like is a glass of water; I am quickly handed one with lemon and straw and a friendly smile. As I sip my water, the owner, Matt Serson, comes over and we start chatting. I explain my quest to him and he offers some valuable insight as to why restaurants may prefer to sell customers a bottle of water, instead of just giving them a glass. “It's always very profitable to sell a bottle of water," he says. "Whenever we place our orders for pop and juice, we're offered great deals on water - as low as a few dollars per case - so being able to turn around and sell those for a few dollars per bottle is very beneficial.”

“That being said, we know that water is essential and should be available to everyone for free, so here we only offer bottled water to those who specifically ask for it. But there are establishments in different sectors of our industry that rely heavily on bottled water sales, so for those managers, servers and owners, there's probably increased pressure to maximize profits.”

With that, I’m off to the Mandarin next door to Grace O’Malley’s to try my luck there. I receive my glass of water without any hesitation. I then drive to Vanier and make my first stop at the Vanier Grill. As soon as I walk in, I can tell it is quite busy and the servers look very preoccupied with their existing customers. I walk up to the bar, sit down and wait. After a couple minutes, someone comes over and I ask for my glass of water. The server seems less than thrilled with my request, but nonetheless, gives me my water. I sit at the bar for about half an hour, sipping my water and listening to a fellow patron’s stories about various adventures they’ve taken. It’s time to move on.

Next up is Burger King, followed by Eddie’s Quick Lunch Family Restaurant, and then to Tim Hortons - I receive friendly service and am asked how I would like my water at all three places. It’s now 3pm and most places seem to be pretty quiet. I will wait a few hours and continue my pursuit during the “dinner rush” hours.

I determine that I will head to some of the larger chains in Gloucester for my evening stops. It’s now 6:30pm and I make my way to Casey’s. It’s quite busy in the restaurant and there are a ton of customers that are rushing in from the patio as it has just started to rain. I make my way through the commotion and walk over to the bar to ask the bartender for my glass of water. I’m given a friendly “sure” and handed some water. I move on to the East Side Mario’s close by. I am greeted by a hostess right away and state my purpose. I head over to the bar, where two bartenders immediately come over and ask what they can get me “to start.” I replied, “I’m actually just here to get a glass of water, please?” They tell me, “Sure, of course” and that’s that.

The next place I head to is Montana’s and I am wondering if I will receive the same friendly service that I did at the Montana’s in Kanata yesterday. Sure enough, a very friendly bartender comes over and after I state the sole reason I am there, am told “Sure, no problem!” and am given a water with a lemon wedge. It is now almost 8pm and I decide to head to one more restaurant for the evening. I make my way to Big Rig. Big Rig is extremely busy and I take the last available seat at the bar. I am greeted within a few minutes and - once again - receive friendly service and quickly get my glass of water.

In addition to feeling extremely hydrated, day two has left me feeling very happy. I’m feeling very good about the fact that I’ve been treated so kindly and received my free glass of water without any hesitation at numerous places over the past two days. Unlike yesterday, today was not scorching hot, and I did not visit restaurants during their “down times,” when one could argue that you are more likely to receive friendly service as staff isn’t as busy. I am intrigued by the thought that Ottawans - for the most part - may really just be nice and understand the importance of giving someone a glass of water when they ask for it. However, I am not yet entirely convinced that the reactions I’ve received to my request, so far, necessarily mirror the responses that others who have asked the very same question have been met with. I am excited to continue my quest tomorrow in a different part of the city!

Email newsdesk if you have had good or bad experiences with getting a glass of water.

Related Story

Can I have a glass of water - Part 1- Ottawa West (Kanata)
Can I have a glass of water - Part 3- Downtown (Ottawa's Byward Market and Gatineau's Promenade du Portage)

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