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Old 11.10.2012, 09:03
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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But they charge you for using glasses. Don't the call it "corkeage"? The last time I was in a BYO in Australia they charged three dollars for one person. We were four, had dinner for about 200 dollars and had to pay 12 dollars for empty glasses. In Switzeland you get a least glasses with water in it.
Never affected me though as I never BYO. I only ever drank (free) water, or soft drink if it was reasonably priced.

At least you actually get the option of BYO in Australia, in Switzerland you are forced to pay for their ridiculous prices.
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Old 11.10.2012, 09:13
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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Never affected me though as I never BYO. I only ever drank (free) water, or soft drink if it was reasonably priced.

At least you actually get the option of BYO in Australia, in Switzerland you are forced to pay for their ridiculous prices.
You as an Australian dare talking about ridiculous prices in Switzerland? Australia is almost on the same price level as Switzerland but without the matching wages.
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  #303  
Old 11.10.2012, 09:29
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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You as an Australian dare talking about ridiculous prices in Switzerland? Australia is almost on the same price level as Switzerland but without the matching wages.
For property/rent yes... but everything else in Australia is much cheaper.
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  #304  
Old 11.10.2012, 09:39
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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For property/rent yes... but everything else in Australia is much cheaper.
Good to know. I'll pass the news to my daughter. She will be delighted that life in her host country isn't as expensive as she thought.
But then, she is only an expat. And don't we know that expats are exaggareting grossly the negatives of their new surroundings?
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Old 11.10.2012, 10:00
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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For property/rent yes... but everything else in Australia is much cheaper.
Well if it's so important to you, why don't you just go back ?

(added benefit, less smokers too )
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Old 11.10.2012, 11:52
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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Who gives a damn about the cost of the base ingredient in a restaurant anyway? You are there paying somebody else to feed you.
The cost of the base ingredient is important. It helps to determine whether something is good value or not. That's why a steak costs more than chicken on the menu, despite the fact that they take a similar amount of labor to produce.

Similarly, if you're going to charge me CHF15- for a salad, it had better be a pretty fancy salad with some expensive ingredients in it. A few quail's eggs, maybe, or some salmon? If you show up with with nothing but lettuce and a few slices of tomato, I'm going to feel ripped off.

What irks me about Swiss restaurants is the enormous mark-up on beverages. Yes, they're expensive everywhere, but here in Switzerland they're worse than most. By the time you have a bottle of water, a bottle of wine, and a coffee, it's likely that your drinks will cost as much as your food -- but the underlying cost is far less. There's (virtually) no labor cost to making a coffee or opening a bottle of wine, there's no spoilage to worry about, and the wholesale cost of the beverage is very low.

So when I'm charged CHF4- for a cup of coffee that costs CHF0.30 to make, and when I'm charged CHF40- for a bottle of wine that retails at CHF8-, it irks me that I'm begrudged a glass of tap water. The restaurant has already made plenty of money on me, enough to cover their high Swiss costs.
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Old 11.10.2012, 12:31
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

Aussieswiss:

Complaining about how life is different from the home country.... you're just like the Swiss locals. I think you'll fit in Switzerland just fine.
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  #308  
Old 11.10.2012, 12:48
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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By the time you have a bottle of water, a bottle of wine, and a coffee, it's likely that your drinks will cost as much as your food
True in Italy and France as well.

Tom
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  #309  
Old 11.10.2012, 12:54
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

I think this reflects a major difference in culture between eating out in the US and Europe. In Europe, the beverages are a significant element in the restaurant owner's business plan, which is why you'll see significant attempts to have you purchase beverages. I've seen restaurants where they will charge you 2 CHF if you don't order any beverage for example. In the US, they frankly really don't care whether you order a beverage or not and if you are happy with the water they provide that won't worry them either. You usually end up with free refills too, something that doesn't exist here.
Just accept that's the way things are done in Europe.
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Old 11.10.2012, 12:55
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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True in Italy and France as well.
I can't speak for Italy, but it hasn't been my experience in France. Assuming we're talking about a three-course meal, an average French restaurant might charge EUR10 for a starter, EUR20 for a main, and EUR8 for a dessert (so EUR38 total). At a restaurant of this calibre, a reasonable bottle of wine is probably only EUR20, and a coffee is probably EUR2.

The mark-ups on drinks, at least in my experience, are much lower.
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Old 11.10.2012, 15:02
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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I can't speak for Italy, but it hasn't been my experience in France. Assuming we're talking about a three-course meal, an average French restaurant might charge EUR10 for a starter, EUR20 for a main, and EUR8 for a dessert (so EUR38 total). At a restaurant of this calibre, a reasonable bottle of wine is probably only EUR20, and a coffee is probably EUR2.

The mark-ups on drinks, at least in my experience, are much lower.
Alas, when I go to France for a meal, it's generally at a Michelin starred restaurant, so prices are a bit different.

And even when I don't, I buy good wine, not reasonable wine (depending on the food, of course).

Tom
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  #312  
Old 11.10.2012, 15:40
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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They already have lots of dishes to do anyway, so shouldn't this be included in the price you pay for food? Do you also think they should charge 3 CHF for each plate and 1 CHF for each piece of cutlery used? Is it really going to be so much more time consuming to put an extra glass in the dishwasher with all the other dishes?
Yes, you are adding a glass to the process. Yes, it is going to be more time consuming. You want it for free? Why should you not pay something for it? Do you want everything for free?

The feeling that I am getting from this is that you don't want to pay for labour in this county. Then spend and/or earn your money somewhere else, but please stop criticising people from trying to earn a living. Restaurant owners and works are not the most highly paid people in the country and are really just trying to earn a living. In a country where there are statistics about everything, wages are pretty transparent. Who are you to say that a waiter should earn less than you? I don't see them driving around in flash Ferraris all the time while you starve. They earn a reasonable living. If you feel like you are being ripped off, leave or not but please just stop complaining about something so inconsequential about somebody charging for a glass of water and let people get on with having the relaxed Swiss lifestyle where most everybody earns a liveable wage and sometimes that includes a strategy of charging for water. You would think there had been a genocide because somebody asked you for a few francs to bring you a glass of water when your stated strategy is to get away with being the least profitable guest in the restaurant possible.

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Never affected me though as I never BYO. I only ever drank (free) water, or soft drink if it was reasonably priced.

At least you actually get the option of BYO in Australia, in Switzerland you are forced to pay for their ridiculous prices.
There are plenty of places that are more than happy to let you BYO in Switzerland. I have asked and taken my own....but always by asking politely and compensating them for any loss of their own business. It has always, every time been polite and everybody has left the experience smiling.

Do you not think it may be your attitude here that is effecting how much you are charged for water and how much their evil ways upset you?

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The cost of the base ingredient is important. It helps to determine whether something is good value or not. That's why a steak costs more than chicken on the menu, despite the fact that they take a similar amount of labor to produce.
Then why does sparkling or still water cost pretty much the same? How does the amount of labour used get chicken or beef all the way from conception to kitchen become the only factor in the cost of the base product? Surely origin, way that the meat is raised, etc also have an effect?

But you digress. Water is the point here, bottle vs. tap. Really the base ingredient is that much difference in cost and the cost for ingredient vs. the cost for labour is very much skewed towards the cost of labour.

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Similarly, if you're going to charge me CHF15- for a salad, it had better be a pretty fancy salad with some expensive ingredients in it. A few quail's eggs, maybe, or some salmon? If you show up with with nothing but lettuce and a few slices of tomato, I'm going to feel ripped off.
So now the chef and the waiter should work for free? One salad, 10 minutes to produce? How about it? I don't suppose it would be reasonable that 5 to 10 francs of the price of a salad would be labour? You want freaking quail's eggs and salmon on your salad for 5 chf???? Wow.

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What irks me about Swiss restaurants is the enormous mark-up on beverages. Yes, they're expensive everywhere, but here in Switzerland they're worse than most. By the time you have a bottle of water, a bottle of wine, and a coffee, it's likely that your drinks will cost as much as your food -- but the underlying cost is far less. There's (virtually) no labor cost to making a coffee or opening a bottle of wine, there's no spoilage to worry about, and the wholesale cost of the beverage is very low.
Labour, no need to say it again. Show me the waiters/bar tenders/restaurant managers that are living banker style lifestyles and I will fall directly in line with you about the fact that we are being ripped off. Until then, pay the price and tip nicely, with a smile.

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So when I'm charged CHF4- for a cup of coffee that costs CHF0.30 to make, and when I'm charged CHF40- for a bottle of wine that retails at CHF8-, it irks me that I'm begrudged a glass of tap water. The restaurant has already made plenty of money on me, enough to cover their high Swiss costs.
Yes, and that charge for the last glass of water....they slipped that into their buy a Caribbean Island fund and laughed Mwaahahahahaha for hours after you had left the restaurant because they had scammed you out of your last three francs. After all they covered their costs. The 3CHF profit is all just clear evil profiteering. God these guys are worse than arms dealers.

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I can't speak for Italy, but it hasn't been my experience in France. Assuming we're talking about a three-course meal, an average French restaurant might charge EUR10 for a starter, EUR20 for a main, and EUR8 for a dessert (so EUR38 total). At a restaurant of this calibre, a reasonable bottle of wine is probably only EUR20, and a coffee is probably EUR2.

The mark-ups on drinks, at least in my experience, are much lower.
Most restaurants around the world have a pretty standard mark-up on beverages. Most of the cost of alcohol is normally duty anyway. It may be a good idea to chat to people in the catering industry to find out how their financial models actually work though. :-) I have a load of friends in the industry, in South Africa, UK, U.S.A., India, Switzerland and France and others. If you think they are ripping you off, you are sadly mistaken. Most of them are earning lower than average incomes that they work unsociable and long hours for so that they can get abused by people for 3CHFs for a glass of water. Personally I am impressed any of them actually bother to run these places. I certainly hope that none of you complaining ever seek to make any profit from the work that you do.
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  #313  
Old 11.10.2012, 16:15
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

Oh God, I really should know better than to get into an argument with an idiot, but here goes....



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Then why does sparkling or still water cost pretty much the same?
It costs the same because the actual water in the bottle costs virtually nothing -- all the cost is in the bottle, the marketing, the distribution, etc. The restaurant buys them both in at CHF1, marks them up to CHF6, and puts them on the menu.

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How does the amount of labour used get chicken or beef all the way from conception to kitchen become the only factor in the cost of the base product? Surely origin, way that the meat is raised, etc also have an effect?
<< bangs head on table >>

No. Everything else being equal, a chicken breast costs less than a steak at wholesale. If I put a CHF50- steak on the menu, people will order it, because they still perceive they're getting value. If I put a CHF50- chicken breast on the same menu, people will perceive they're getting ripped off.

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So now the chef and the waiter should work for free? One salad, 10 minutes to produce? How about it? I don't suppose it would be reasonable that 5 to 10 francs of the price of a salad would be labour? You want freaking quail's eggs and salmon on your salad for 5 chf???? Wow.
No, that's not what I was saying. I was saying that there's a difference between the CHF5- salad and the CHF15- salad. They may both take ten minutes to make, but the labor is only part of the equation. The ingredients in the salad also contribute to the cost.

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Personally I am impressed any of them actually bother to run these places. I certainly hope that none of you complaining ever seek to make any profit from the work that you do.
I am looking forward to having you as a guest in my restaurant. Please take your time ordering, because we charge for the waiter's time by the minute. There's a CHF5- fee to use the toilet (waaaay more water than in a glass, and it takes much longer to clean). Want a napkin? Candle on the table? Those are all additional extras.

Is it too warm in here? I'd be happy to turn on the air conditioning. It'll cost you an extra CHF3.

My point is this: there are certain parts of the dining experience whose cost should be built into the overheads of running a restaurant. A glass of tap water to go along with my meal is one of them. Labor? Nonsense. I can't imagine any restaurant having to add an additional waiter to handle all of the tap water requests, nor another dishwasher to clean all the tap water glasses. The marginal cost is peanuts.

Nor have I ever seen a restaurant go out of business because they provided free tap water.

In fact, it's the opposite. They'd earn a lot more out of me if they served free tap water -- because it means I'd eat there in the first place. But these days, I don't spend a penny in Swiss restaurants, and the the gouging of being charged for a glass of tapwater is a big part of why. So all my dining dollars go over the border to France or Germany, where they'll happily provide me with a carafe d'eau, free of charge. As much as I can drink.
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  #314  
Old 11.10.2012, 17:02
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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Oh God, I really should know better than to get into an argument with an idiot, but here goes....



It costs the same because the actual water in the bottle costs virtually nothing -- all the cost is in the bottle, the marketing, the distribution, etc. The restaurant buys them both in at CHF1, marks them up to CHF6, and puts them on the menu.



<< bangs head on table >>

No. Everything else being equal, a chicken breast costs less than a steak at wholesale. If I put a CHF50- steak on the menu, people will order it, because they still perceive they're getting value. If I put a CHF50- chicken breast on the same menu, people will perceive they're getting ripped off.



No, that's not what I was saying. I was saying that there's a difference between the CHF5- salad and the CHF15- salad. They may both take ten minutes to make, but the labor is only part of the equation. The ingredients in the salad also contribute to the cost.



I am looking forward to having you as a guest in my restaurant. Please take your time ordering, because we charge for the waiter's time by the minute. There's a CHF5- fee to use the toilet (waaaay more water than in a glass, and it takes much longer to clean). Want a napkin? Candle on the table? Those are all additional extras.

Is it too warm in here? I'd be happy to turn on the air conditioning. It'll cost you an extra CHF3.

My point is this: there are certain parts of the dining experience whose cost should be built into the overheads of running a restaurant. A glass of tap water to go along with my meal is one of them. Labor? Nonsense. I can't imagine any restaurant having to add an additional waiter to handle all of the tap water requests, nor another dishwasher to clean all the tap water glasses. The marginal cost is peanuts.

Nor have I ever seen a restaurant go out of business because they provided free tap water.

In fact, it's the opposite. They'd earn a lot more out of me if they served free tap water -- because it means I'd eat there in the first place. But these days, I don't spend a penny in Swiss restaurants, and the the gouging of being charged for a glass of tapwater is a big part of why. So all my dining dollars go over the border to France or Germany, where they'll happily provide me with a carafe d'eau, free of charge. As much as I can drink.
Wow, you must be a true expert. Would you mind stating me a full calculation of the costs a restaurant has, until a glas of water reaches your table?
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Old 11.10.2012, 18:18
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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Wow, you must be a true expert. Would you mind stating me a full calculation of the costs a restaurant has, until a glas of water reaches your table?
Sure. It's an important part of this debate. Because everyone talking about the high cost of labor in Switzerland is ignoring the fact that those costs are basically fixed, not variable. But that's simply not the case. They don't need to employ any extra waiters, nor do the waiters need to work any extra hours, to bring you a glass of tap water.

First, consider which are the fixed costs that would be there anyhow. They include the waiters, the dishwashers, the plumbing, and so on. You've got to pay them regardless of whether table 7 asks for tap water, or stays thirsty. I don't eat any more/less quickly or occupy the table any longer if I have a glass of water than if I don't.

Then, you've got to calculate the variable costs that you incur to serve the water. Sure, you've got a one-off cost of buying an extra glass, but over the lifetime of a glass, this is pretty small. And then you've got the cost of the water that actually comes out of the tap. We'll say that costs 5 rappen.

Perhaps, at the end of the night, you're left with a full dishwasher-load of tap-water glasses, so you've got to run the dishwasher a second time. This uses additional water, soap, and electricity. That probably costs another 10 rappen per glass.

So, the total variable cost of bringing me a glass of tap water is 15 rappen.

Are you honestly telling me that you can't find some way to engineer a 15 rappen price increase in your menu to cover the cost of providing your customers with 'free' water?

Look, I don't begrudge a restaurant the right to earn a profit, or to mark up their products. I have no problem with them adding a margin to the food they produce, nor to the bottled/fountain drinks they serve. But in my mind, some things should be part of the whole package, not add-ons, and a glass of tap water is one of them.

They don't charge you extra for the bottle of Aromat on the table, do they?
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Old 11.10.2012, 18:23
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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Sure. It's an important part of this debate. Because everyone talking about the high cost of labor in Switzerland is ignoring the fact that those costs are basically fixed, not variable. But that's simply not the case. They don't need to employ any extra waiters, nor do the waiters need to work any extra hours, to bring you a glass of tap water.
This is, of course, a Reductio ad Absurium, but if it's not extra work for the waiters, who's going to do it? Sure, compared with the laying & clearing of the table, the ordering, the serving, and all the other things it's not _much_ additional work, but it's some, and there's only a finite amount of time available, so overall, if every waiter in every restaurant spent the extra time to serve water, then more waiters in total would be required.

Edit: Oh, and of course this whole subthread has gone down the route of assuming that restaurants charging for water is the norm. As previously stated by several people, it's not. Those that do can clearly afford to choose their custom, and could equally well just up the charge for everyone, but as someone who rarely wants tap water, but drinks wine, mineral water or beer (or all three) I'd much prefer that the cheapskates sticking to tap water have to pay for the privilege rather than me.
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Old 11.10.2012, 18:31
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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This is, of course, a Reductio ad Absuria, but if it's not extra work for the waiters, who's going to do it? Sure, compared with the laying & clearing of the table, the ordering, the serving, and all the other things it's not _much_ additional work, but it's some, and there's only a finite amount of time available, so overall, if every waiter in every restaurant spent the extra time to serve water, then more waiters in total would be required.
Put on your common sense hat for a minute. How many restaurants do you know where 100% of the waiters are 100% busy for their entire shift?

I refuse to accept that, in your average restaurant of say ~20-30 tables, you would have to employ anyone extra or pay for any extra hours to provide a glass of tap water upon request.
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Old 11.10.2012, 19:06
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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I think this is better....


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Old 11.10.2012, 21:51
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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I can't speak for Italy, but it hasn't been my experience in France. Assuming we're talking about a three-course meal, an average French restaurant might charge EUR10 for a starter, EUR20 for a main, and EUR8 for a dessert (so EUR38 total). At a restaurant of this calibre, a reasonable bottle of wine is probably only EUR20, and a coffee is probably EUR2.

The mark-ups on drinks, at least in my experience, are much lower.
That wine in France in both restaurants and shops is fairly cheap is not new. However, meals in fashionable places on the Côte d'Azur and in the Provence can easily cost twice as much as in the Alsace. While it in Paris is rather above the Alsace average it in the Normandie and Bretagne is rather lower.

Wines in restaurants in Switzerland ? Wines in restaurants in Geneva tend to be clearly less expensive than in Zürich
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Old 12.10.2012, 00:10
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Re: Would it kill the restaurants here to give you free water

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In fact, it's the opposite. They'd earn a lot more out of me if they served free tap water -- because it means I'd eat there in the first place. But these days, I don't spend a penny in Swiss restaurants, and the the gouging of being charged for a glass of tapwater is a big part of why. So all my dining dollars go over the border to France or Germany, where they'll happily provide me with a carafe d'eau, free of charge. As much as I can drink.
Couldn't agree more. I personally boycott any restaurants that charge for tap water. I also rarely eat out anywhere in Switzerland, and instead save my money for Konstanz whenever I want to shop and eat out. Perhaps if more people do the same, the Swiss will start lowering their prices to something more reasonable. They have a much bigger markups compared to Germany.

Also more variety and better food in Konstanz, although I wish there were more Asian and Indian. In Switzerland, your options are limited to Italian, Italian, kebab, and Italian. Oh how I miss the variety of restaurants in Australia: Italian, steak, thai, chinese, Indian, Japanese, Mexican etc.

Last edited by AussieSwiss; 12.10.2012 at 00:20.
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