Sponsored by Pentair.
When restaurant operators think of all the ways their budgets may be strained, water quality probably isn’t at the top of the list. Yet with all the ways water is used in a restaurant, it should be. Though in the U.S. it is generally safe to consume straight from the tap, that does not mean that this water is adequate for the needs of a restaurant.
Consumers expect the best when they go to a restaurant, and water plays a big role in their perceptions. This is especially true of food and beverage. As the foodservice industry pays increasing attention to the quality of ingredients, it is baffling that many restaurant leaders don’t consider water to be equally as important as other ingredients.
“The industry has evolved, and it’s about farm-to-table and fresh ingredients,” says Laura Melesio, marketing manager at Pentair. “What restaurant operators sometimes miss is that water is the most important ingredient in many of the products they serve—ice is 100 percent water, soda is 83 percent, soup is 80 percent, coffee and tea are 98 percent.”
When the water quality suffers, so can a restaurant’s product and service quality, leading to disappointed guests.
“Poor water quality impacts the taste of water in tea and ice,” Melesio says. “It can cause an odor or bad taste that can make coffee bitter, change the appearance of products, or make glasses and tableware appear dirty.”
With growing operational costs and increasing competition, most brands can’t afford to lose customers, especially over something as important as how water impacts the foods they serve. But brands also can’t afford to lose money due to equipment failure. Restaurants need beverage dispensers, combi ovens, espresso machines, ice machines, dishwashers, and more in working order to keep up with consumer demands, and all of these crucial pieces of equipment, among others, need good quality water to run effectively.
Even when water is safe to consume, it often contains minerals, chemicals and other contaminants that may adversely affect the performance and life expectancy of water-using foodservice equipment. Those substances can cause everything from corrosion to component failures.
“A lot of foodservice equipment relies on water to operate and is impacted by poor water quality,” says Jim Franceschetti, marketing manager at Pentair. “It can shorten the life of equipment, void a manufacturer’s warranty, and increase energy usage.”
For example, ice machine manufacturers typically recommend deliming twice per year at an annual cost of $400 on average. Poor water quality can easily double those costs, not including service calls or lost sales due to equipment downtime. That doesn’t factor in changes in consumer perception that can continue to impact business even after equipment is repaired.
Paying attention to water quality before it's an issue helps avoid these costly problems. Restaurant operators are busy and don’t have the time or desire to become experts in water treatment, so it’s important to pick qualified partners who can assess water quality, find the appropriate treatment method, and select a right-sized solution that meets the unique needs of their restaurant.
“A lot of what we do at Pentair is educating people about not only why they need to put water treatment in front of a piece of foodservice equipment, but also how doing so can save them money in the long run,” Franceschetti says. “We’re here to help operators understand water quality’s impact on their business as well as how to solve their specific water-related challenges.”
A water treatment solution strategy that works at one business may not work at another. It’s important that restaurants get their water tested and analyzed by experts to determine not only which solutions are ideal for their source water conditions, but can also address important factors such as how many pieces of water-using equipment they have and how much water runs through those machines on any given day.
“It is not as easy as buying a “one-size-fits-all” solution off the shelf, so an operator wants to partner with someone with water quality and application sizing expertise,” Melesio says.
Identifying the right water partner can positively impact a restaurant’s bottom line and contribute to the overall success of an establishment by fostering happy, repeat customers.
By Peggy Carouthers