Recently launched Valletta breakfast and brunch spot Elephant Shoe became the first restaurant in Malta to offer free still water to customers in a bid to minimise its environmental impact.
Located right outside the Upper Barrakka Gardens, Elephant Shoe opened its doors in early August to make Valletta “brunch-able and happier,” offering a range of brunch classics like poke bowls and waffles, to culinary creations like pastizzi (cheesecake) sandwiches. One innovation that has stood out is its idea to serve free drinkable water to customers.
Malta differs from many European countries and the United States, in that it is not common practice to drink tap water. And, because restaurants on the island are unable to serve tap water, they are unable to offer it to patrons as is the case with restaurants in much of Europe and North America.
But, with reverse osmosis systems continually being improved, they have become more common on the island, leading Elephant Shoe to be in a position to offer water to its patrons. Coming at a time when inflation has badly hit both businesses and consumers, eliminating the burden of having to pay for bottled water will undoubtedly be appreciated by customers.
Speaking to WhosWho.mt, Elephant Shoe’s management explained that “not all decisions in business are about a financial aspect,” and the move to offer free still water was done because of a drive for innovation.
“We are the first to offer free water and we even fill up water bottles when people walk in free of charge. We think it is a great initiative. In this day and age, to be the first at something is a great achievement and we are the first restaurant to do it,” the management said.
Asked what motivated them to introduce the practice, management said that it was “an environmental decision” as the restaurant is not “throwing out water bottles after each use”. Elephant Shoe fills up its own glass bottles with water that is filtered through a reverse osmosis system.
"We made our mark with the new restaurant, and we are getting noticed because of it [offering free water]. We also hate seeing a lot of bottles go to waste,” management added.
Customers have been “pleasantly surprised” by the initiative, with some getting confused thinking that there is some form of catch, “but rest assured that there isn’t”.
While Elephant Shoe fully backs its move, its management added that each restaurant or café should “make their own decisions” and not feel pressured to follow suit.
“Everyone sees things differently and has their own outlook on how they run their business. Just because we serve something it doesn’t mean others should as well. If they feel they would like to do it, then it is up to them,” it concluded.