Let’s face it. Spending money on water at the table hurts. But what if restaurant clients could get flavored, sparkling, purified water at literally the flip of a switch, and at the same time, help communities around the world get clean water, too?
SodaStream, an Israeli company that manufactures home drink-carbonation machines, is now moving into the world of foodservice operations.
“Our vision is for our purified, sparkling water to be everywhere – in homes, in offices, in restaurants, in hotels. We’re co-branding with Samsung, Kitchen Aid and other different companies so that, at the end of the day, we want SodaStream to be available everywhere,” says Lior Shafir, chairman of AquaTal, its parent company.
Shafir notes that SodaStream recently bought a family-owned factory, specializing in sparkling water machines and juice/beverage and wine coolers to help it extend its reach into the commercial category. “We think a world without constantly-replaced plastic and glass bottles is a better world,” says Shafir. “We’re offering water that kitchens can produce right in their space – purified, cold and sparkling water on the spot, using our very fancy refillable glass bottles. We can put the restaurant or hotel name right on the bottle, if you want to co-brand. Anyone who orders bottled or sparkling water can choose the water from our professional unit, and waiters can serve the table with our bottle, a very well-known brand.”
Shafir adds that creating bottled water this way can save restaurants and hotels thousands of dollars every month. “They can stop buying branded bottles and just use their own water,” he says. “How much easier can it get? You save lots of money, storage space and the logistics of carrying those bottles, chilling them, storing them, returning them, with our all-inclusive SodaStream professional unit.”
He also points out that many restaurants, experiencing decreases in the sales of drinks like soda, are not buying a lot of beverages anymore. “People are sticking with water to be healthier, and restaurants are serving tap water for free. More people are taking tap water – yes, beer and wine still sell, but not soda – so restaurants are losing revenue. We’re offering to turn tap water into purified ice water with none of the hassles or expense of buying bottled water.”
Shafir says restaurant and hotel guests are not just buying water from a trusted name, but also contributing money to an organization that donates $1 billion worth of water around the world to communities in need. SodaStream has an agreement with this organization with an International charity, which gets restaurants and hotels to add a small charge to orders for sparkling water, to benefit this charity. With SodaStream machines, the need to pay for bottles of water is also eliminated. “These communities can now purify their own water. By restaurants charging a little bit more, people in these countries get fresh water, making it in their own environments. Clients will pay a few cents more if this is for those communities. And restaurants are getting money for tap water!”
What does it cost a restaurant to use a SodaStream unit? You can buy or lease one, or as many as you need, from $250 to $400 a month, all inclusive. “We activate your account every month, with each payment, and you get unlimited sparkling and purified water,” Shafir says. “You can serve 500 or 5000 bottles, the cost is the same. There’s nothing to deal with, no deposit. Once you sign up, you start obtaining sparkling water. If you decide to join the charity, you’re charged a small amount. But look at it this way: restaurants normally lose money serving water. It costs you little to do the service and anyone would be more than happy to get purified or sparkling water in a bottle, while knowing 10% of the cost of it will be donated to needy communities,” says Shafir.
Shafir says the company hopes to branch out to salad bars, coffee houses, and places like that, too. “Some of these places don’t sell soda anymore. They can have a soda-free unit, with special containers of our flavors – sugar-free and no calories. It’s much healthier than soda. A client can walk in and ask, can I get a sparkling ginger ale. A couple of squirts of our ginger flavor, some bubbles, and you get fresh soda,” says Shafir. On the service side, SodaStream is partners with Ken’s Beverages, which has 30 different service facilities, and over 25 years of experience.
Shafir says what differentiates his company from others is its use of technology and, of course, its name. “People want to drink beverages of a brand you can trust. With SodaStream, you feel safe. By virtue of the success we’ve had on the retail side, restaurants can take a tremendous amount of comfort buying into our well-known brand.”