If one person is synonymous with the adoption of Water Menus in the United States, especially in California, it is Martin Riese.
Water deserves a place on the table next to food and wine, but it's not easy to change perceptions and habits. While consumers demand better choices of natural water and order from portfolio distributors for home use, restaurants and the hospitality industry in general still resist change to a very large extent.
Below are some of the most iconic and noteworthy water menus created by Martin, many very early and against the tide of the times. Nevertheless, they point to a future where "water is not just water" and "still or sparkling" is not a choice.
It started with Ray's & Stark Bar, located behind Chris Burden’s iconic Urban Light installation on Wilshire Boulevard. Martin Riese created the restaurant's first widely publicized water menu in 2013. The menu was an instant success with the guests and the media and got Martin a seat on the Conan O'Brien Show. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 2015 the Patina restaurant at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles was one of the leading fine dining places in town now, with an elaborate water menu. A smaller version of the full menu was available at the Hollywood Bowl.
The bohemian Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood would receive its water menu in 2020 to be updated in 2022 after much success.