American restaurants and fast-food joints have offered free refills on soft drinks and coffee for years. And for good reason, refilling drinks for free is a cheap and easy way to keep your customers happy and make them feel like they’re getting a good value.
But free refills are more than a marketing gimmick, they are an American birthright.
What’s more, free refills are a kind of social contract between restaurateurs and us, that one we pay two or three dollars for a product that is essentially free, we have the right to have your cup refilled as many times as needed to quench our thirst.
Earlier today, I went out to lunch at a diner down the street from my apartment. The food was decent, and I was excited by the prospect of a restaurant in the neighborhood that wasn’t enormously expensive or gimmicky (vegetarian / falafel / overpriced noodle places, I’m talking about you). But when it came time to refill my coke, the waitress informed me that they don’t do free refills on soda. “I guess the economy is too bad that we can’t do that anymore,” she said.
I for one think it is important to stand up for free refills. And I don’t appreciate being nickel-and-dimed by a restaurant over something that costs them fewer than 10 cents (what’s next, a napkin quota?).
So starting today, I am going to be boycotting any restaurant that does not offer free refills. I hope you will join me.
I am also creating a map of anti-American restaurants that refuse to offer free refills to help you avoid these establishments in the future. The map will be regularly updated as I discover more restaurants that have European refill policies. If you know of any restaurants that should be added to the list, please contact me.