Aqua Goes Eau de Vie

On-site filtered, bottled water system offers eco-solution to expanding restaurant chain

With a name like Aqua you’d expect the stylish Italian restaurant chain based in the West Country to know its water.  Currently it has two sites in Bristol and one in Bath.  All are busy throughout the week and on Saturday nights each will serve up to three hundred covers.  The clientele is attracted by classic regional Italian cuisine, often given a modern twist, based around fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Recently all three Aqua restaurants have installed Eau de Vie on-site bottled water systems.  Ben Smithson, General Manager of the Group, explains: “Like most restaurants, we were offering a choice of bottled mineral water or tap.  However, these days there’s a definite move away from the former – partly due to cost and partly because consumers are more aware of the green issue – a jug of mains water is more eco-friendly.

“The main feature that sold us on Eau de Vie was the environment angle: it’s a much greener option than mineral water,” he adds.  “However, it’s also about giving guests another choice, and one that enhances their dining experience.”

The Eau de Vie system offers both still and sparkling water.  Mains water is filtered and chilled on site and served in elegant, branded bottles.  It offers a complete package, from the stylish and attractive ‘front of house’ water dispensers, bottles and flasks to the backroom wash racks, carriers and rack dollies.

The filtration and chilling system is housed in a compact unit under the dispenser.   “The Eau de Vie dispenser is very snazzy and the filters really improve the flavour of the mains water,” says Ben Smithson.  “It tastes at least as good as mineral water.  We now offer customers a choice of tap, mineral or Eau de Vie.  We’ve priced the Eau de Vie at £2 per bottle, whereas mineral is £3.25.”

Ben Smithson adds that sales of Eau de Vie are steadily increasing.  “It’s taking a little while for customers to get their heads round the concept of filtered water, but the ones that try it really like it.  It now accounts for 50% of the bottled water we sell and we expect the figures to carry on growing.”

To encourage take-up, Aqua is giving 25p to charity for every bottle of Eau de Vie it sells.  The two Bristol sites have nominated Water Aid, while the Bath restaurant has opted for a local charity for the homeless, Julian House.

“We see Eau de Vie as all about planning for the future,” says Ben Smithson.  “We need to change the way people think about water.  It’s a good choice for the environment, a good choice for the customer and a good business choice, too.”