As is frequently the case in the West, it comes down to a fight over water rights - in this case, the new bar policy on free water. Up until recently, there has always been a large jug of ice water and a pile of disposable cups in the back of the bar, available to everyone. It was noticed - or at least perceived - that there were a large number of people who only drank from that jug.
This is a problem. Contrary to what is apparently many people's perception, KoC is not a public meeting place that happens to serve drinks. It is, instead, a place that serves drinks that happens to be a public meeting place. Don't get me wrong: Its position in the community, and the people that go to it, are extremely important to those of us that work there. Frankly, given the returns, none of us would be there otherwise.
But at the end of the day, the lease is paid, and the lights are kept on, by the profit from the drinks sold between 7pm and 1:30am.
Various places have different ways of handling the situation. My last gig, like many, had a two drink minimum. This was occasionally enforced in a completely insane fashion, but that's another story. Most bars will only provide water to patrons that have already bought something.
bluize's solution is something of a middle ground. The bar won't kick out or harass anyone for not buying. But it won't serve them free water, either. However, if you buy just one drink - no matter how cheap - you'll get as much water as you want for the rest of the evening.
I honestly can't say if this is a good idea or a bad one. The group dynamics in a bar can be very complicated. But I do think that it's a thoughtful response to the situation - and one that has been received quite positively by most patrons. After all, if you can't afford the $2 for a soft drink, maybe you shouldn't be going out and using people's resources.
Last night there were two related incidents. One, which I'm only reporting second hand, was apparently a fairly prolonged hissy fit on the subject. As reported, the individual felt it was their right to be there, and, one surmises, their right to be served water as well. Again, I didn't experience this first hand. But if that is indeed their opinion, they're, well, wrong on both points.
The other was two individuals who went next door, bought bottled water, then paraded their bottles around the room, announcing to people that they could get more water for considerably less over there.
The level of cluelessness involved is simply astounding, and on so many levels. First of all, I've been told in multiple places that it's actually illegal to bring drinks into a bar that weren't sold there. Even though I work there, I really shouldn't be bringing in the occasional fast-food iced tea.
Second of all, one never goes to a bar for cheap drinks. If you want to drink cheaply, buy your own supplies and drink at home. One goes to a bar for community and entertainment. The drinks are correspondingly expensive. If the water is so much cheaper at the Mercado, maybe you should congregate with your friends over there - and suggest they arrange for some entertainment, as well. I'm not sure either will be all that well received, however.
And third of all, it's simply blindingly rude. If I don't like the price of cat food at Long's, I don't buy some from the Albertson's next door, then stand in the aisle pointing out the price tag difference to every customer that comes in.
Ah well. That's my rant for the day. I've finished lunch in the interim, and the Cheesecake Factory would really like me to leave, even though I've spent money here. Not that they're being pushy about it - but they've stopped refilling my drink.