Miami Beach-based Vero Water® is creating waves in the hospitality industry. By turning tap water into profit for its clients, the five-year-old company is disrupting the traditional imported bottled water business. From its humble beginnings, Vero Water is now served in over 40 states and enjoyed by over 38 million consumers a year — in establishments ranging from the number one restaurant in the world, to casual independents across the nation.
Launched in 2011, Vero Water is a leading provider of still and sparkling water focused on the hospitality industry. Vero enables clients to purify, chill and bottle still and sparkling water on-site and on demand, delivering a consistent signature taste regardless of the tap water source. Swift and sustainable, the systems are proactively maintained by Vero and leased at a flat monthly “all inclusive” rate. Company President and co-founder David Deshe credits Vero’s proprietary five-step purification system and concierge customer service as key factors in building a strong brand in the demanding on-premise arena.
Thousands of restaurants and luxury hotels nationwide have turned to Vero, including many Michelin Star and James Beard Award winners. Numerous luminary chefs choose to offer Vero Water, such as Mario Batali who serves it in all his concepts. Dan Barber, the Voltaggio brothers and Jose Garces serve Vero Water as well. “I serve it in my restaurant for guests to enjoy. What I hadn’t expected was that I would enjoy its crisp, clean taste so much that I would have to get it for my home,” said Garces.
The Vero Water client list is a who’s-who of leading destinations such as The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and Hard Rock. “Vero is appealing because of our unique price points,” said Deshe. “Now, we’re in more than 250 outlets in South Florida alone, which enabled us to expand into every major market in the U.S.” On board are MiMo’s Vagabond, Glass and Vine in Coconut Grove, and Stephen Starr’s Le Coucou and Upland, both in New York City and South Beach.
“Being headquartered in Miami keeps us close to clients and allows us to stay current with what’s going on in this vital marketplace,” said Vero Vice President of Sales and co-founder Michael Servetnick. On the West Coast, innovative concepts such as Single Thread also have Vero Water as part of their guest experience.
Despite the availability and proliferation of imported and domestic bottled waters, about 85 percent of guests order tap, says Deshe. “We realized quickly the reason is price. These same consumers drink filtered or bottled water for every occasion — in the office, at home, in the gym and on the go. By improving the bottled water model and route-to-market, we made drinking still and sparkling water both affordable and eco-friendly when eating out, while delivering on the luxury tableside experience of imports.”
The first challenge was creating a water with a taste that even the most discerning chefs would embrace. “We designed a proprietary system that accounts for the variation in municipal water coast to coast. Achieving a consistent, singular taste was the real challenge,” said Joe McNulty, Vice President of Operations. “We tested our process to ensure it met the demands of our clients. Customer service was built in from day one.” What emerged is Vero’s five-step Vero+ purification system with four stages of unique filtration to reduce dirt, rust and bacteria — and then running it through a signature taste polisher.
Vero’s systems are designed to save counter space and optimize efficiencies. Italian Chef Angelo Masarin of popular Miami Midtown restaurants Salumeria 104 and neighboring Midtown Oyster Bar, has served only Vero Water from the start. “Our restaurant is very small and I don’t have much storage. Vero Water was the solution.”
Casanova of trendy Eating House in Miami can relate. He stopped carrying imports. “Storage and trash are issues because of large, empty bottles. We strive to keep things green. That’s a big deal for us. The reception we get from guests is very positive.”
Purifying and filling on site reinforces sustainability goals, and taps into guests’ growing demands for eco-friendly brands. Carbon dioxide emissions and food miles are dramatically reduced versus traditional bottled waters, which are sourced, extracted and packaged in Europe and Asia, then shipped thousands of miles to the point of consumption. Vero designed bottles of extra strong annealed glass that are sized for easy sanitation in standard racks. “You just wash and reuse the same bottles instead of creating all this trash,” adds Casanova.
Vero has a unique approach in pricing that resonates with both operators and guests. It suggests charging a small fee per guest, usually one or two dollars, and letting diners enjoy as much luxury still and sparkling water as they like throughout the meal service. “One dollar per person is totally accessible,” says Chef Masarin.
As Deshe explains, “Before, only 15 percent of patrons were buying bottled water. Now you have 85 to 90 percent ordering Vero because of the minimal cost.”
Brian Lieberman, owner of the chic OLA restaurant in the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach, sees a big difference. “Switching to Vero significantly increased our profitability versus traditional bottled water.”
One high-volume client in Las Vegas thinks it has hit the jackpot. While requesting anonymity due to the fierce competitive nature of the industry, the establishment reports almost $23,000 in monthly sales from Vero Water, compared to just $6,000 with traditional imported bottled water. It now solely serves Vero, as do many other clients that have gone exclusive.
The Vero management team has carefully managed growth in order to maintain the highest quality and client service levels. Now rapidly expanding into national and global account concepts such as Melia Hotels & Resorts, Vero Water is poised to deliver its exceptionally great tasting, eco-friendly brand to consumers around the world.