As of picnic day, 2008 Little Prague offers free water in a big orange cooler located on the bar near the dance floor. Prior to that, their water policy was seen by some as a bit stingy:

The Little Prague Bar once had a policy in place whereby they would charge you for bottled water and would not give you tap water unless you were a paying customer. It made several people upset in the Davis community but has not been an issue since Jan. 01, 2008.

No Free Water

The policy, quoted below for all to see, still remains in the building on a piece of paper as a reminder of the past, but is no longer the standing policy.

"There will be no water given to any non-emergency personnel, non-police officers, non-employees or NON-PAYING CUSTOMERS unless in a group of others who are purchasing alcohol. We have had too many issues with spills and with people choosing not to buy anything and just dance or use the bathrooms. This facility is for customers (ie: people who purchase food and/or drinks) and no one else who is not a member of the aforementioned groups. If you are not sure whether it is alright to give water to someone ask the bar manager or owner."

The reason for the policy was that many people would come to the bar, dance on the dance floor while listening to the DJ or Live Bands that were playing and ask for water. The bar made no money on these patrons so in December of 2006, the same year the bar opened, the policy was instituted that any who had not purchased a drink or food item from the menu could not receive water for no charge. The only exceptions were to law enforcement and emergency personnel. Another reason behind the issue was that many of the individuals who had been given water, would take it on the dance floor and spill it, causing safety issues for others in the bar. It was only after this second issue arose that the policy was instituted.

Some suggested many pros and cons for this policy.


  • Little Prague has a right to make money, if they want to make money by selling $1 bottles of water, they should be able to.
  • The owner might be annoyed by people requesting tap water, but not actually spending any money on busy nights. The policy was never in place for paying customers. Paying customers and the people with them have received free tap water as of late 2007, and the owner was overheard telling a bartender if they were paying to provide water.


  • At some point in the evening we all realize we need to get home and the switch to water from beer is an important part of that. More sobriety means less drunk drivers. Bars have a partial responsibility to prevent drunk driving and this policy goes up against those. (once again, not an issue if they were actually customers who had purchased alcohol)
  • Along the same lines, free tap water gives designated drivers something to drink with out having to fork over money (Designated drivers were never refused free water as they were members of a group who had purchased drinks, often the bar will still provide reduced cost or free sodas for designated drivers as well). These customers usually increase the profit of the bar (by allowing their friends to drink a lot more).
  • Drinking water is healthy in general. Businesses in Davis should encourage it.
  • Bottled water is bad for the environment. Davis tap water is gross, but we shouldn't force people who are ok with it to produce more waste. See this NYT article on bottled water. This is also a moot point since if you don't get bottled water you will receive it in plastic cup.

StevenDaubert Sez that Davis water *isn't* gross, and that's a moot point anyways cause all restaurants filter the water as it comes into the building... Restaurant tap water != Davis tap water.

This policy has not been an issue for over three years, but some will still mention it from to time, unable to let the past go. It now remains on the Wiki for supposed "historic reference" for those who are unable to move beyond this minor non-issue.


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2007-08-22 12:57:56   You're not totally clear on whether you can get a glass of tap water for free or not. If the answer is no, I think it's a bad policy. Free water is both a common courtesy and a symbolic gesture of generosity in our culture. —GrumpyoldGeek

2007-08-22 14:08:53   Unless they changed their policy in the last few weeks (or I've just been really lucky with the bill) tap water at Little Prague is free. —VladLoscutoff

2007-08-22 14:24:31   I have never had a problem getting tap water at Little Prague's restaurant. It seems to me that the people who complain about not getting tap water are drinking at the bar. So, unless I am wrong about that, any discussion of the absurdity of the policy should at least be clear that it is not Little Prague's policy as a whole, but just their policy w/r to the bar. By the way, if you look at the comments on the Little Prague page, it's pretty clear that almost all of the positive comments are about the restaurant (and most of the restaurant comments are positive), whereas most of the negative comments are about the bar (and most of the comments about the bar are negative).

Having said that, I do think that the bar's policy is shortsighted and stingy. It obviously pisses off a number of their clientele, i.e., people who may have been drinking earlier in the evening and/or people who might return in the future to spend money there. Also, since the bar is partially legally responsible if people drink too much and then drive, you would think it would be in their own best interests to provide free tap water. Some bars provide free soda to designated drivers (or, at least they used to, back in the dinosaur days when CovertProfessor went to bars) for that very reason. —CovertProfessor

2007-08-22 14:39:14   Thanks Covert, I was going to edit my comment after reading the thread and doing some research, you beat me to it. While I understand Little Prague's "no free water" policy at the bar, it's definitely going to cause friction in a college community like Davis.

From the restaurant's point of view - the water costs money, cleaning the glass after you're done with it costs money, so does paying the people who give you the glass and clean it. If you ran a restaurant and someone cleaned out your paper napkins, plastic sporks and ketchup packets without buying anything, you'd be upset too. These items are "free" but the reasoning behind that is they're "free with purchase" ... your purchase includes the costs of those items, if you don't buy anything those things aren't free to you.

From a student perspective - it's freakin' water!

This seems like another case of Little Prague suffering from non-student friendly tactics. Also, my googling showed that New York is the *only* state to have a free tap water law; it should be considered the exception, not the rule. —VladLoscutoff

  • That’s a really bad analogy with the ketchup packets. The bar is charging paying customers to drink tap water, not just designated drivers. Hence a better analogy would be the restaurant charging you for ketchup packets after you purchased your burger. Also it has been confirmed that they won’t fill up a glass you already drank from with tap water for free. Hence the washing the glass argument is also irrelevant in this case. Their policy is actually so offensive to some people that there is a facebook group against it Facebook Group Against LP Water Policy

The bar never once charged "paying customers" for water UNLESS they chose to obtain a bottle and not a cup.

2007-08-24 13:18:45   It's unethical to deny a person water at a bar. The person might be a DD (which we want to encourage) or might want to spend their last hour sobering up. As for the bar/restaurant distinction: in my experience, the owner is a jerk whether he's at the bar or in the restaurant. My friends are all graduate students, professionals, etc., but even if we were undergrads we should be treated with respect (unless we're being obnoxious). The food at the restaurant is okay —the brunches and the desserts are really good, but the rest is mediocre. I love the outdoor atmosphere but try not to patron the place because I don't want to support an owner, local or not, who is so inexplicably rude to his customers. I have specific experiences to share, but this comment is long enough. —JessicaRabbit

  • could you share your story on the little prague page when you have the time and the inclination? —StevenDaubert

2007-12-22 06:47:03   I went to the bar last night with friends and ordered a glass of wine and a glass of water. I was quite surprised when the bartender turned to the owner and asked if it was ok to give me water; the owner replied that it's fine to give someone water if they've ordered a drink. I had never heard of a bar charging for tap water before, and I had no idea why the bartender would ask such a question...I should have read the wiki before I went. That being said, my friends ordered beers and food, and did receive free water later in the evening. —AcMach

2008-06-01 12:36:56   They now offer free water in a big orange cooler located on the bar near the dance floor. —Jennifer6677