9-May-2017 (Tue)
Wherein bottled water is bullshit.

I saw another argument happen at the bar over water, and it reminded me, again, that I hate it that we sell bottled water. Bottled water is awful:

The reason you should boycott bottled water is because it enables a bullshit, backwards vision for society.

Boycotting bottled water means you support the idea that public access to clean, safe water is not only a basic human right, but that it's a goddamn technological triumph worth protecting. It means you believe that ensuring public access to this resource is the only way to guarantee it will be around in a few more years.

Clean, safe drinking water that flows freely out of our faucets is a feat of engineering that humans have been been perfecting for two millennia. It is a cornerstone of civilization. It is what our cities are built upon. And over the years the scientists and hydrologists and technicians who help get water to our houses have also become our environmental stewards, our infrastructural watchdogs, our urban visionaries. Drinking the water these people supply to our homes is the best possible way to protect future access to water worldwide.

Companies that package water in a single-use bottle are not concerned with the future. They are not invested in the long-term effects of climate change on an endangered watershed, nor are they working to prepare a megacity for an inevitable natural disaster. What they are interested in is their bottom line: Marketing a "healthy" product to compensate for the fact that people are buying less of their other products that are known to case obesity and diabetes -- and selling it for at prices that are 240 to 10,000 times higher than what you pay for tap water.

And yet, sell it we do, because we would be fools not to. People buy it and we make bank on it. We're in no position to just leave that money on the table.

So as long as you're standing there saying "Take my money!" I'm going to say "OK!"

But the water thing, it causes fights and grief pretty regularly. Someone will ask the bartender for a cup of water. They reply: "We sell bottles, or there are free water fountains over there." Most of the time, that person hates the idea of water fountains so much that they just pay for the bottle. Ka-ching.

But sometimes they instead try to grab a cup, and the bartender has to explain to them that cups are not free. (In fact, that cup costs us almost as much as the bottle of water does!) Sometimes this results in yelling, and someone getting thrown out.

It's kind of amazing to me that people are so unwilling to drink from a water fountain, like an animal. The concept is anathema to them. They just won't do it. It's weird.

The eye rolling! Ugggggghhhh, you expect me to drink from a fountain??

I guess schools don't have water fountains any more, just Coke machines?

I expect that eventually California will make bottled water illegal. Maybe those cardboard milk-carton water bottles (which are even more expensive than plastic) will replace them, unless they make those illegal too. If that happens, I guess that massive revenue stream will just dry up. (See what I did there.) But:

Banning bottled water increases sales of robot sweat:

Results. Per capita shipments of bottles, calories, sugars, and added sugars increased significantly when bottled water was removed. Shipments of healthy beverages declined significantly, whereas shipments of less healthy beverages increased significantly. As bottled water sales dropped to zero, sales of sugar-free beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages increased.

Conclusions. The bottled water ban did not reduce the number of bottles entering the waste stream from the university campus, the ultimate goal of the ban. With the removal of bottled water, consumers increased their consumption of less healthy bottled beverages.

Still, in the world in which we live now, any time I see a nightclub that just has a pitcher and a stack of free cups at the end of the bar I think, "Why do you hate money?"

Oh, and then there's this nonsense: "This startup wants to disrupt the way you drink water. Reefill lets you activate water stations via your phone's Bluetooth".

Yes, if only there were some kind of "net-work" of fresh water distribution, perhaps moving it through a series of tubes, or pipes. That sounds just crazy enough to work. I shall dictate a scroll to the Caesar about this.


Speaking of water, he said transitionally, I spent some time on a restoration project last week. (And this is going to sound like a rambling non sequitur for a bit, but bear with me, it's gonna wrap around and be relevant to the topic at hand, I'm pretty sure.)

For quite some time, Jared has had this antique seltzer bottle on the shelf behind the Codeword bar. But it didn't work, which was a shame, so I fixed it! All of the rubber had rotted, so it wasn't keeping a seal. (It's from 1930, so maybe it was actually Bakelite or something?) Also there was a piece missing. Anyway, I got it working again. The way these things work is, you fill them with water, vent a CO2 canister into it, shake, and then the bottle is pressurized enough that when you pull the trigger on the tap, delicious fizzy water comes out.

It's a Flintstones SodaStream, basically.

The wire wrapped around the outside is because (I assume) that was the cheapest way to turn glass into a pressure vessel that wasn't going to spontaneously turn into an IED. I'm guessing there were some sad bartenders with glass shrapnel in their faces before they started doing it this way.

The first thing that puzzled me was the canisters: this thing is from 1930 but the canisters are the same form factor as what we have today! They are the same shape as those canisters that go into your "whipped cream" dispenser. Which means that a century ago, there was an industry of putting various gasses into 8 gram steel pressure vessels, and the Invisible Hand of Standardization has dictated that those canisters stay exactly the same. For a century. That's kind of cool. (I tried to dig into the history of them but didn't get far.)

(Speaking of standardization, don't pay those SodaStream jerks for marked-up CO2 in bottles with intentionally-incompatible connectors, just get an adapter and re-fill standard tanks! I put a 50 pound tank on mine 2½ years ago and it still hasn't run out!)

This seltzer bottle produces enough soda for eight to twelve cocktails before it's empty. Today, those CO2 canisters cost about 40¢ each in bulk, so that's 4¢ or 5¢ per serving! That's crazy expensive for CO2: refilling a 50 pound tank costs like $8, so if I did my math right, I think that's like 0.14¢ per drink -- and I'm not sure what our rate is, but we buy our gas hundreds of pounds at a time, so I'm guessing we get it a lot cheaper than that.

I wonder how much these canisters cost back in the 1930s. Probably more -- cracking molecules and packing gas into single-use steel tubes can only have gotten cheaper since then.

So it's interesting that making fizzy water used to be ridiculously expensive and wasteful -- and that one of the byproducts was that every dozen drinks, you were throwing away a single-use steel pressure vessel! A whole lot of heat and complicated metallurgy went into that thing prior to its journey to the landfill.

It's almost as crazy as delivering tap water to people by truck in single use plastic bottles.

44 Responses:

  1. At least you HAVE water fountains! A lot of clubs don't and you have no choice but to buy water or get sick

    • andrew says:

      Doesn't SF have a law requiring that bars and clubs offer free water? Most use those Igloo containers, but real fountains are better.

  2. Jim Sweeney says:

    I must have a cocktail with soda from The Bottle.

  3. Elusis says:

    So why don't you have big orange sports coolers filled with ice water on both ends of every bar? When I lived in New York and went to/worked at clubs there (this was New York state, not the city), every club had sports coolers at the end of the bar with translucent 8-oz cups. Instead of bothering the bartenders for water, you just filled your cup from the cooler. Every so often a barback dumped in a bunch of ice and water.

    The reason this is preferable to the drinking fountain is that dancing makes you THIRSTY. Not "maybe I'll sip from this fountain for a moment" thirsty but "I need a bunch of water to keep from being too drunk/dehydrated" thirsty. And smart alcohol consumption involves, among other things, matching your alcoholic drinks ounce for ounce (or thereabouts) with water, something you're not going to accomplish with a drink from a fountain.

    If you don't offer bulk water somehow, the line for the bathroom will be nothing compared to the line for the water fountain, and woe betide the person who stands there for more than a couple of gulps if hot and thirsty partygoers are waiting for their turn in line.

    You can sell bottled water, you can dispense free water en masse, or you can have people pass out from heatstroke/dehydration/alcohol poisoning more frequently than you do already. If you really hate bottled water, bring on the coolers.

    • jwz says:

      Well, the line for the water fountain is "never", and the people passing out from heat stroke is "never", so... your experience is not my experience.

      • Elusis says:

        And you've stopped selling bottled water?

        Seriously, if you hate bottled water, offer cups of water for free from cooler, or charge people a buck for a cup they can refill over and over.

        • jwz says:

          I was wondering how long it was going to be before someone said "well if you don't like bottled water, stop selling it." I really didn't think it was going to be you.

          • Elusis says:

            Happy to disappoint.

            • James says:

              I am in Beijing now and for some reason I do not understand, the municipal water distribution treatment plants are unable to kill microbes with heat or chlorine prior to distribution. This necessitates bottled water in many circumstances. However, instead of being offered 750 ml in business meetings, I am now being offered 350 ml bottles. I am guessing this is progress?

            • robert_ says:

              More like 'happy to not actually read what was written'.

      • thielges says:

        The main reason people don't use water fountains is because they're conditioned to think that they are gross. Especially when compared to individually packaged safety sealed bottled water. I know some people who will dehydrate before drinking tap water.

        Procrastination has prevented me from writing an essay titled "How did we go from drinking water to drinking A water?"

        • patman says:

          I believe Lewis Black's thoughts are relevant on this topic:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqXFrs6quvE

        • David Kaye says:

          SF's Hetch Hetcy water system is one of the very best systems in North America. The federal government does not even require the water to be filtered because it is so pristine. Meanwhile, the bottled water companies have little or no oversight, and there have been problems with benzene and other bad chemicals getting into the water from badly sanitized production facilities. I stopped drinking bottled water then the evil Nestle started buying up most of them (Poland Spring, Calistoga, and the beloeved San Pellegrino). They've also bought up formerly free water wells and streams in developing countries. The CEO of Nestle has gone on record saying that access to clean water is NOT a human right.

    • nickgrim says:

      You might want to reread the bit about "cups are not free" and "money on the table".

      • Elusis says:

        Charge a buck for the cup. Or stop complaining about making money on bottled water.

    • Mark Kraft says:

      "in the world in which we live now, any time I see a nightclub that just has a pitcher and a stack of free cups at the end of the bar I think, "Why do you hate money?"

      If the water was bottled by a Microsoft regional monopoly, but you had the option of using open source, reusable plastic cups, which would you choose?

      As a customer, when a place offers pitchers of waters and actual cups, my thoughts are "thank you for being a bar that isn't trying to gouge me for being safe & responsible. I'll buy a drink later, and tip my bartender!" Hell, when I ask for a water in a bar, and they pour me water out of the gun and don't charge me for it, I always tip on it... but never do for a place pushing bottled water.

      Which is to say, you may very well "need" that profit, but it could be coming at the expense of your bartenders.

      I love the DNA. I do. But when it comes to drinks in general, it feels cold and calculatedly greedy, hurts the feeling of service and kinship between bartender and customer, and I would rather drink just about anywhere else in town, that serves drinks with a compatible ethos to the bars and clubs I grew up with.

      I can't lower your rent or change your business model, but I wish it didn't make the simple act of serving a beverage more expensive than it needs to be most anywhere else. Lots of people resent being "uppriced" and "upsold" on principle, even if that means more revenue for you. There's a reason why this city sucks down a lot of inexpensive beer, as a matter of pride and identity. It's not just because people are hipsters. And it galls me that under a mile away, I can have a drink special beer for the price of your soon-to-be-landfilled bottled waters.

      It may seem like a straightforward win to you, by the books, to follow certain practices, but human psychology doesn't work that way. On the short term, your revenue goes up... but in the long term, some people get turned off and go somewhere else, where they can drink, dance, and relax without having to worry about how big their tab will be, or whether they'll have to pay for bottled water or not.

      • jwz says:

        You're right, you can't lower our rent. And every day I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to make payroll, and how long I'm going to be able to pay that out of my own pocket before I go actually literally broke and have to fire everyone anyway.

        Since you can't lower our rent, it's difficult to take seriously suggestions from people coming at me with plans that amount to: "Why don't you lower all your prices, and start giving product away, because you'll make it all up in good will and increased business later." Hey, maybe you're right, maybe doing it "for exposure" really does work.

        On the other hand, maybe not, there's no way to tell without trying it, and that experiment failing would be irreversibly fatal. So there's no way I'm taking that risk. When you don't know how to keep the lights on, suggestions that amount to "drop your income overnight by NN%" are non-starters.

        Also, a couple points, because I think your comments indicate that you misunderstand something fundamental about our business.

        First of all, the "bars and clubs you grew up with" have raised their prices since then, because the $2000/month rent they were paying in the 90s is now $20,000/month.

        Second, our drink prices are at the industry standard. If you think this is not true then you misunderstand what industry we're in. There are slight variations on particular products, but what we charge are essentially the same prices as every other large nightclub in town. These $2 PBRs you're talking about are not at nightclubs. Saying "but I can get cheaper drinks at the corner bar" is essentially the same as saying "alcohol is so much cheaper when I buy it at Safeway!" Neither "grocery store" nor "corner bar" are the business we are in. Likewise, our business is not "selling alcohol". That's just where the money comes from. The business includes all the ancillary stuff that makes that alcohol interesting (or sometimes, vice versa).

        • Mark Kraft says:

          I am not at all disagreeing with the nature of your business, and why the circumstances make it a necessity not to go messing around with what must feel like a rather tenuous lifeline back to something approaching profitability again. That said, I think having a variety of prices for beverages and isn't the same as "giving product away", or doing it "for exposure".

          I think part of it is that there are a fair amount of of small-to-medium sized bar/nightclubs out there that manage to have a bit of the best of both worlds, as far as both having dancing or shows and still being able to have drink price specials. Not that they aren't facing their own pressures as far as rent in S.F. is concerned. But still, there they are, having deejayed beer keggers, happy hours... and even that apparently nonsensical free -- as in not beer -- water.

          And perhaps given the rents in S.F., they are having their last gasp of revelry before the next rent increase, and we are watching the end of an era, but somehow, I kind of naively hope that where there's a will, there will somehow be a way.

          But yeah, YMMV. I would have thought you might have purchased the building when you had the chance. My condolences...
          Doing a quick check on the city records on the property:
          Assessed Values:
          Land: $533,213.00
          Structure: $417,354.00

          (And they charge you how much per month? And you've spent how much improving their building? Sounds like a sweet ROI. Damn, it's good to be a landlord sometimes.)

          • jwz says:

            Those numbers are nonsense. If the landlord were interested in selling - which thankfully he is not - he could get 10x or 20x that, because the buyer would put 6 stories of $2M studio condos here.

            • Mark Kraft says:

              No doubt, especially nowadays vs. 2000.

              My point was more that at one point -- now hopelessly lost in time -- actually buying a property like that at something approaching a reasonable amount was a theoretical possibility, and that it is a very fortunate club owner indeed who owns their digs in this town.

        • Mark Kraft says:

          But seriously... you could use something that feels more like a happy hour. Maybe there's a way to leverage your "new" parklet in order to pump up that kind of feel. "Would you like to order that inside, or have it brought outside for you?" Play a bit of music on an outdoor speaker.

          If you don't want to undercut your drink prices with a low-end price, perhaps you could do some sort of package deal designed to encourage people to drink and snack... Sangria and nachos, or something of the sort. Or invite someone to come out and shuck $1 oysters one-at-a-time for an hour, and see how that goes. Little tasty bites that help sell drinks, but ideally don't impact your other food sales much... and that give you fresh selling points to use in your social media.

          Looking at your social media for DNA Pizza, it seems kind of weak. You're putting in the effort to make several regular posts daily showing pictures of food, as if that was all you were selling. You also seem to have the same three likes for all your Twitter posts, from the same internal accounts, which is kind of sad.

          Why? Because it's supposed to be about community.

          Showing people that you prepare good food is a start, but you aren't showing people that you are selling food inexpensively, you're not that competitive for delivery except after your competition is closed, nor are you showing people that you are offering them a fine dining experience and a great place to take a date. So what are you really selling here?

          Where's the fun? Where's the community? Where's the socializing and the happy hour (which are synonymous things, and not "giving product away"? Where's the scooter enthusiasts night? Or the motorcycle meetup / weekend ride. When's trivia or game night? Robert Smith's birthday party? The listening party and contest for new (insert band name) new release. The gathering to remember the next Bowie or Prince or...
          What about setting up some gaming, or doing a ______ viewing party on the big screen? Anime? Cartoons? Kitsch? Short films? Moving a table, and hooking up the Wii?

          Obviously, some of this could involve legal requirements, or is more work than you want to deal with yourself or hire someone else to do, but if you look at a place like Wicked Grounds, for instance, most of the work is just maintaining a web events calendar and letting others organize events. You need to empower others at times when it doesn't interfere with your concert crowds... which should be quite doable for a 24 hour restaurant. And if you do it right, you can get people going from a social gathering to a dance night or burlesque event immediately afterwards.

          You need the right kind of selling points, but all you are talking about the wrong things for your community, who primarily want to spend money at your venue for fun experiences, not for pizza, a salad, and a beer. They want to get a buzz on, grab a bite or a bit of caffeine to maintain their energy levels, hang out with friends, meet people with similar interests, and be entertained.

          You should be finding ways to expand your online community by leveraging on and promoting into existing groups and communities. You should also be leveraging your businesses and social media to promote each other. The idea that your DNA Pizza and DNA Lounge aren't even linked on their respective websites is flawed. You need people to view the two as complementary online, just as they are IRL.

          You may also want to experiment inexpensively and for a limited time with novel happy hour ideas on your less trafficked days. One thing I love are the $1 oyster Fridays at El Rio, for example... they have a woman who comes out for about 90 minutes, hand-shucking oysters, which people line up for and have with their beers. It's a good start for a nice Friday evening at the venue, which often includes an additional cost to see a show or to dance... but I wouldn't have heard about the $1 oysters if I didn't see it on http://sf.funcheap.com ... and the thing is, oysters don't really cost that much, nor does having two or three oysters over the course of an hour with beer constitute a full meal. There are ways of you promoting to thousands of people on social media and increasing your turnouts, without "giving product away", or going Groupon.

          Think about it this way... you are a entertainment development corporation. Your biggest focus for organized entertainment is at DNA Lounge, but you can also organize entertainment at DNA Pizza. In addition, you also empower open entertainment development -- giving others the right to create with others and develop free entertainment at your entertainment community, a.k.a. DNA Pizza. You can even promote their efforts at building that entertainment, and allow others to visibly "takeover" your existing events at DNA Lounge. (Which is to say, invite and promote to people from x community to all go to y event.)

          But you need to build and support the culture that allows all this. And you should also encourage your own people at the entertainment development corporation to think about and jumpstart the kind of entertainment projects they would like to see, in the same way that Google employees are expected to create their own pet projects.

          But yeah, by all means, limit your risks, try new things on the cheap, manage your portions and per-serving expenses... but do something because if all you are selling is somewhat pricey -- albeit tasty --cooked flour dough with thin veneers of vegetable, assorted animal bits and excretions, or pricey poison and needfully expensive event tickets where those doing the work get paid, then you need to think about how to add value to what you are offering... and while your pizza is tasty and your sound system is excellent, people still care more about the social experience.

  4. J. Peterson says:

    You know drinking fountains were originally part of the temperance movement?

  5. Paul Rain says:

    Huh. That is very cool.

    I can only imagine the wire is just acting as a more convenient version of chainmail masks for employees and patrons. There are plenty of examples of pressure vessels made of dissimilar materials.. from leather or wooden cannon barrels wrapped in steel wire, to iron shotgun barrels wround round with steel wire, to alumininium rifle barrels cast in steel, to steel barrels wrapped with carbon fibre.. it's just generally the other way round- something fairly strong but malleable wrapped in a stronger, but less ductile material.

  6. o.o says:

    Oh, and then there's this nonsense: "This startup wants to disrupt the way you drink water. Reefill lets you activate water stations via your phone's Bluetooth".

    FTA: "I had the idea for Reefill while walking down the street in Manhattan a few years ago when I was thirsty but realized I would not be seeing a water fountain any time soon....we were basically forced to shell out $2 each for bottled waters."

    Yes, the headline is buzzword bullshit, but the idea doesn't merit the snark. It's like a water fountain (and how in the hell can you count on running across a water fountain?), but you fill your own reusable bottle. It's both cheaper AND saves waste.

    • Doctor Memory says:

      Neither here nor there, but the trick to getting rehydrated in NYC is to walk into literally any bodega or starbucks (and there is always a bodega or starbucks nearby) and (politely) ask the person behind the counter to fill up your water bottle.

    • kwk says:

      "He leans over at this strange steel fixture attached to the wall and presses a button, and you won't BELIEVE what happens next!"

  7. Doctor Memory says:

    I guess schools don't have water fountains any more, just Coke machines?

    Data point from across the country: my kid's school has both. (Well, not Coke machines -- we're not animals -- but vending machines that sell Coke's "Dasani" bottled water, which is just local tap water put into a plastic bottle and marked up infinity percent.) But earlier this year there was a lead contamination scare involving some of the in-classroom taps and, yes, one of the drinking fountains.

    This is in a neighborhood that's a mix of upwardly-mobile yuppies and working-class 1st/2nd generation immigrants; it's as blue as they come and plenty "environmentally conscious." But take a wild guess how much relative use the vending machines and water bubblers have gotten since!

    It turns out that trust in shared infrastructure is hard to build, but easy and profitable to destroy. And the best part is that you don't even have to engage in active sabotage: just move the upkeep spending needle a little to the left and all you have to do is wait.

    • sneak says:

      Dasani does not have chlorine in it. Your tap water probably does.

      • Don says:

        Unless you're a fresh water fish, tap water doesn't have chlorine in any quantity that will impact you. Also, as Dr Memory says, that bottled water is usually just repackaged tap water so it's going to have the exact same chlorine in it. In fact, the FDA limit on chlorine in bottled water is up to 250.0 milligrams per liter, way higher than any local water processing operation is actually going to use. But, in fact, below the World Health Org's limitation.

        But hey, nice work buying into the FUD from folks who want to sell you expensive and environmentally bad versions of what you're already paying to produce via your local taxes. Your oligarchs thank you.

  8. skofarrell says:

    People in Flint love that bottled water.

    • James says:

      No, they do not. They want to coat their lead distribution pipes, but there are essentially no reliable ways to do that.

  9. Zach Fine says:

    That is no digression, that seltzer bottle is exactly what I want to hear more about -- to wit, did you open it up and find a bunch of corroded gaskets, and did you find suitable replacements?

    I have the exact same seltzer bottle, purchased at a flea market, and continually plan to restore it to functioning condition. I've managed to replace one of the outer gaskets, but am not sure how to access the internal ones (I suppose I'll have to remove the metal cap and then somehow make and crimp a new one to close it back up). Any details of your bottle surgery would be appreciated.

  10. Pavel Lishin says:

    I think people prefer having a cup of water, or a bottle, over a water fountain is that it gives them something to carry in their hand. A water fountain sates thirst as well as a cup, but I like having something in my hand when I'm talking to people - especially if they're all holding drinks, too.

    I'm surprised that a cup costs nearly as much as a water bottle, though. I would have figured you could buy paper/plastic cups (also bad for the environment, and less profitable for the club) in a large-enough bulk order that they'd effectively be next-to-free.

  11. apm74 says:

    At the office we have water fountains (even a bottle-filler fountain), but I use the water machine in the breakroom that does some further treatment patent pending magic on the municipal water supply source. And I pour it in a plastic cup that I take home to clean probably bi-yearly.

  12. tb says:

    So it's interesting that making fizzy water used to be ridiculously expensive and wasteful -- and that one of the byproducts was that every dozen drinks, you were throwing away a single-use steel pressure vessel! A whole lot of heat and complicated metallurgy went into that thing prior to its journey to the landfill.

    Those containers probably weren't single use. I drank a lot of fizzy water from similar bottles back in the 70s and 80s, and the CO2 containers were available in supermarkets for a deposit. You returned the old ones, and bought new for a little extra.

  13. AB says:

    Can the fountains be adjusted for a little more water pressure please. There are times when the water level is barely an inch above the bottom of the tray.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, this is something that we have to adjust regularly, unfortunately. It's just a screw we need to turn, but it doesn't stay put. It's on the weekly maintenance list, but if you notice it being too low, please tell anyone with a staff shirt, and we'll fix it!

      • Jake says:

        Have staff back that screw out, run a bead of Loctite Blue 242 onto a thread, then set the screw back to appropriate level. Within about 6 hours you will be able to cross that off the weekly checklist.

  14. nooj says:

    I can't think of a single nightclub in my city where I would drink from a fountain after the sun went down. Not even if I watched the owner sterilize it at sunset. Pee and cigarette butts and other glorious bodily fluids get strewn about too frequently for my taste. Others' tastes may differ; who am I to judge?

    One place is pretty awesome: You get your water from a beer tap! Recently (for various definitions of "recent"), they got a permit for a minor remodel for some ordinary improvements. Here's how that conversation went:

    Them: "Our building is slowly crumbling and rotting and may smother us in the night, much like our hopes and dreams and the pillow we sleep on."

    City: "Old-ass, crumbling, out-of-code buildings are fine by us!"

    Them: "We're fixing it."

    City: "Slow down there, big fella! You can stay in your nasty rathole as long as you want; but if you want to make it better, you gotta ask permission!"

    And so on. One of the things was they wanted to do was move the bar ten or so feet to the right and add a shitload of beer taps. It wasn't enough to warrant closing the bar or taking a night off, so they did the work while remaining open. But it was enough to require city approval, seeing as it involved some plumbing and sledgehammers and moving an outside wall. In the fullness of time (to put it lightly), the various approvals were stamped and the new part of the bar was ready for use. Yay! Four taps turned into twenty-six! Twenty-six is a shitload, because you don't want to appear too eager. And only craft brews, of course.

    But when they went to take out the old taps and remove the drain and stuff, the city said they'd have to get some permit reapproved or whatever, which was a sleeping dog no one wanted to re-awaken:

    Them: "We want to do this thing that everyone knew about and has been plainly obvious and implied for a over year."

    City: "Oooh, I don't know, I don't get paid nearly enough to risk making common-sense decisions. I go by the book, and while nothing says you can't, I don't see anything that says you can, so I won't let you. Go ask someone else."

    Them: "..."

    Now, in the good old days, a venue might just wait a bit and then just take it out and not tell anyone. After all, who really gives a shit if someone turns off a valve upstream and then they unscrew a nozzle? And then maybe pull some pipes out from behind the wall a few months later?

    But now everyone has to be picture perfect on city codes, double-checking stuff even when it's approved. Because now people routinely draw circles on a map around expensive or up-and-coming real estate they want to shit a hotel or condo onto, and if there is a pesky business or church in the way, they wardrive the city code and decades-old approvals to see if there is a reason they can sue the business into bankruptcy! Yay, the system works!

    The solution: Instead of removing anything, they hooked it up to some low pressure water and just leave plastic cups! As a joke, all the water beer taps are a rotating selection from Coors and Bud Light and MGD and shit.

    Because of course, craft brew bars around here look down their noses at any bar that has the same beer for sale on two consecutive nights, like an animal. Explaining the menu in excruciating detail every time is FAR superior to seeming stagnant!

    The new bartender small talk is the customer describes how they're feeling, and the bartender pretends to care and at random gives them a couple of shot glasses of a couple of beers to seem generous, and then they spend several minutes bonding over how interesting that beer is and how it's just perfect and what was the name of it again? I think it's hilarious, but I like cocktails, so what do I know?

    If anyone naively asks for a nationally-branded beer (basically any beer that has ever had a TV commercial), the bartenders will--with a perfectly straight face--point and say, "We have that at the end of the bar." And they turn to the next customer. Ha!