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Coming to the Defense of Restaurants' 'Sneaky' Charges

Yesterday morn, the Post ran a scathing piece accusing restaurateurs across town of adding hidden and sneaky charges to tabs to make up for money lost in the downturn. Their culprits: the bread and butter charge at Co., a takeout charge at Nobu Next Door, an ice charge at Morton's, the service charge at Grotto Azzurra, and a water charge at Bobo. While some of their findings are perhaps worthy of reprove—we're not aboard the mandatory tipping train and waiters at Co. should tell diners the bread costs$3—others can be explained. Or so say the restaurant owners, natch.

For instance: Bobo owner Carlos Suarez contacted the the Post, Grub Street, and Eater last night to tell his side of the story. His full request for correction is below, but Suarez mainly points out that the $1-per-guest water charge has been in place since the restaurant opened, is printed on the menu, and helps fund social and environmental initiatives, including a well in Ethiopia and ESL classes for the staff. Plus, San Domenico did it. So there, Post!

On another note, yesterday the Robs reported that Don Lee's cocktails at Momofuku Ssam Bar would cost $1 more if ordered on the rocks (cube come from a Queens ice carving studio, mmm-kay?). Our sources at Momo tell us this is not the case. Ice will be free, no matter how fancy. Now, back to Suarez:

Dear The Editor,

Thank you for bringing the bobo water program to the public’s attention on page four of today’s edition of your paper. This is an extremely important initiative that has been in place at the restaurant since our opening in September of 2007. It is one of a handful of social and environmental programs at bobo championed under the coco (collective consciousness) umbrella. While we are delighted you have apprised your audience of the enterprise, we take issue with certain major factual errors in the article, including a misleading partial quote and request that you clarify to your readers the following:

1. The program has been in place since the restaurant opened in September, 2007 and is therefore in no way a response to the current economic climate, as the premise of your article suggests. The program was instituted as part of a conscious plan to minimize the waste and environmental impact caused by serving bottled water.

2. The $1/guest charge is and has always been printed on every menu.

3. The proceeds of this water charge have been used to fund several outstanding social and environmental initiatives including:

- a bobo well in Ethiopia created through the amazing work of Charity:Water.

- FUTUREHOOD event sponsoring the green roof at PS41 and

- ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for bobo staff

- TOMS shoes for staff (

- Membership in the CSA Farm program – Garden of Eden Farm, Long Island

- Procuring 20% of our electricity from renewable energy sources through ConEd Solutions

- Various other local and international charities detailed on our website

In total bobo has donated tens of thousands of dollars, generated by the $1 guest water charge, to support many social and environmental projects of which the owners, staff and patrons of bobo are quite proud.

Also worth noting is that the former restaurant San Domenico charged guests $7/carafe for the exact same water. As stated on the website: “The restaurant (San Domenico) maintains a water menu of 10 commercially bottled waters, but the “house” Natura™ water is the biggest seller – at $7 a bottle.”

While we appreciate your efforts to bring this program to light, it is clear that the article is grossly misleading and welcome your efforts to report accurately on the bobo water program.

For further reading please visit and click on the coco logo, or alternatively go directly to

Kind regards,

Carlos A. Suarez
bobo & Futurehood

· Check! (Carefully) [NYP]
· Bobo’s Carlos Suarez on Why His Water Costs a Dollar [GS]


181 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014 (212) 488-2626 Visit Website