Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Message
Author
User avatar
alan weinberg
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 14028
Joined: April 25th, 2009, 1:23 pm
Has thanked: 63 times
Been thanked: 91 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#101 Post by alan weinberg »

Sean S y d n e y wrote: April 6th, 2021, 2:27 pm
alan weinberg wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:46 pm I’ve never really understood restaurant economics regarding triple retail wine pricing when I look around and see hardly a bottle on a table and read complaints about low food margins.
As someone who runs a wine list at a restaurant, I promise this is not being said in a lecturing tone (you'll just have to imagine my kind and dulcet tones): you are paying for the time spent creating the list and all the knowledge and expertise (hopefully!) that entails, time spent helping you choose the right bottle for you after consulting with you and figuring out what you want and knowing the intimate details of 150-200 choices and which bottle or two will hopefully be the right one, serving it to you in guaranteed good condition from a cellar at a proper temperature with good glassware, paying for those glasses to be washed, paying for the nice environment in which you'll consume it and, yes, to subsidize the food you're eating which would probably be 20-30% higher if the wine/booze wasn't marked up.

I try to keep markups as fair as possible - extra difficult in our regulatory environment that adds loads of costs onto beverage alcohol - and don't use a standard multiplier to decide what something should be on the list. Some are more, some are less, but restaurants aren't a charity and all of our livelihoods depend on achieving a certain margin of profit from the clientele. That said, I'll do everything in my power to ensure you never feel cheated, because I know first-hand what a bad taste that leaves in your mouth.

On corkage: if it exists, don't feel bad using it. I always appreciate a thoughtful and sympathetic guest, though, now more than ever.
that is helpful. As I said, “I’ve never understood restaurant economics.” I’d build a wine list for free for a restaurant—it’d be fun.

R Scott Hughes
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 204
Joined: August 6th, 2020, 4:22 am
Has thanked: 19 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

#102 Post by R Scott Hughes »

I honestly think that in the context of Covid and everything related that restauranteurs have had to deal with in the past 12-months, BYOB is probably about #437 on the list of things that they are worried about right now. As has been discussed more than enough above in this thread and others, there are plenty of ways that you can enjoy BYOB and still make the economics work for the staff and the restaurant. If the fundamental premise of the article is that we shouldn't BYOB in order to help restaurants and the staff, I think that there are a lot of other ways we can do so that will be more impactful than restricting ourselves to ordering from the restaurant's wine list.
R u 5 5 3 ||

User avatar
Sean S y d n e y
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1446
Joined: March 1st, 2020, 3:20 pm
Location: Toronto, ON
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 31 times

Re: Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

#103 Post by Sean S y d n e y »

I think the business model of restaurants SHOULD change, like many folks in this thread have said - but are you willing to pay a lot more for the privilege of eating out? Unfortunately, that's what it'll take.
Instagram: @seansydney

Tom G l a s g o w
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9143
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 2:01 pm
Has thanked: 45 times
Been thanked: 40 times

Re: Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

#104 Post by Tom G l a s g o w »

Sean S y d n e y wrote: April 6th, 2021, 6:37 pm I think the business model of restaurants SHOULD change, like many folks in this thread have said - but are you willing to pay a lot more for the privilege of eating out? Unfortunately, that's what it'll take.
Easy for wine drinkers to agree. We’re tired of subsidizing teetotalers.

Jon Drummond
Posts: 65
Joined: May 28th, 2013, 9:19 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 10 times

Re: Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

#105 Post by Jon Drummond »

If a restaurant doesn't have any reasonably priced options and I'm not BYO, then I'm happy to not have any alcoholic beverages. I go to restaurants mostly to eat food that I can't easily cook at home. I have a mature cellar, and generally have wines older than most restaurants.

I feel like a mug paying enormous markups for wine (3-4 times retail, while restaurants buy at wholesale price), like I'm some sort of drug addict that can't go a meal without alcohol.

Preference is for restaurants to price their food properly. The food is where the skill is being executed. There is minimal skill in maintaining a wine list (especially when most restaurants have mostly young wines) or opening a bottle of wine to justify the mark-ups.

The industry has a problem if the primary reason for existence (food) is insufficient to sustain the business. The beverage sales
should be the cream...somehow it has become the cake?

User avatar
Scott Brunson
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 11336
Joined: November 15th, 2011, 2:55 am
Location: in between coastal SC and south FL
Has thanked: 37 times
Been thanked: 31 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#106 Post by Scott Brunson »

Andrew K. wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 10:09 am Didn't we already have this thread last year?

It was just as dichotomous then.
And the year before.
Probably twice.
Tous les chemins mènent à la Bourgogne!
On CT, I'm S1

User avatar
Victor Hong
Posts: 21051
Joined: May 30th, 2009, 1:34 pm
Location: Banana Republic of ‘Merica
Been thanked: 72 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#107 Post by Victor Hong »

Scott Brunson wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:37 am
Andrew K. wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 10:09 am Didn't we already have this thread last year?

It was just as dichotomous then.
And the year before.
Probably twice.
Stop repeating yourself as if a thread.
WineHunter.

User avatar
RehbergK
Posts: 1901
Joined: August 14th, 2015, 9:31 pm
Location: Apollo Beach, FL
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#108 Post by RehbergK »

Michael S. Monie wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 11:02 am When this question arises I sometimes think that we myopically assume that the majority of restaurant patrons order bottles of wine. With the host of drink options including: non-alcoholic, beer, cocktails, and wine by the glass, it would be interesting to know what percentage of diners do order a bottle or bottles. It would seem to me from the restaurant's perspective at this time "butts in chairs" would be the priority.
Yep......^ this

I'll never feel guilty of BYOB with a reasonable corkage fee. Its 100% margin for the restaurant and as long as they still allow non drinkers and beer drinkers to dine there without complaint, then that corkage fee still probably benefits the restaurant at least as much if not more than other patrons. If their business model requires their wine program to "subsidize" losses on food margins, then I'd say, they need a new business model.
K E V I N

HoosJustinG
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 590
Joined: January 18th, 2020, 9:30 pm
Has thanked: 6 times
Been thanked: 23 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#109 Post by HoosJustinG »

alan weinberg wrote: April 6th, 2021, 6:13 pm
Sean S y d n e y wrote: April 6th, 2021, 2:27 pm
alan weinberg wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:46 pm I’ve never really understood restaurant economics regarding triple retail wine pricing when I look around and see hardly a bottle on a table and read complaints about low food margins.
As someone who runs a wine list at a restaurant, I promise this is not being said in a lecturing tone (you'll just have to imagine my kind and dulcet tones): you are paying for the time spent creating the list and all the knowledge and expertise (hopefully!) that entails, time spent helping you choose the right bottle for you after consulting with you and figuring out what you want and knowing the intimate details of 150-200 choices and which bottle or two will hopefully be the right one, serving it to you in guaranteed good condition from a cellar at a proper temperature with good glassware, paying for those glasses to be washed, paying for the nice environment in which you'll consume it and, yes, to subsidize the food you're eating which would probably be 20-30% higher if the wine/booze wasn't marked up.

I try to keep markups as fair as possible - extra difficult in our regulatory environment that adds loads of costs onto beverage alcohol - and don't use a standard multiplier to decide what something should be on the list. Some are more, some are less, but restaurants aren't a charity and all of our livelihoods depend on achieving a certain margin of profit from the clientele. That said, I'll do everything in my power to ensure you never feel cheated, because I know first-hand what a bad taste that leaves in your mouth.

On corkage: if it exists, don't feel bad using it. I always appreciate a thoughtful and sympathetic guest, though, now more than ever.
that is helpful. As I said, “I’ve never understood restaurant economics.” I’d build a wine list for free for a restaurant—it’d be fun.
One of life's great truths is that it's both easy and fun to spend somebody else's money. Would be much less fun if you were held responsible for the financial performance of the list ;)
I'm a good man ... in fact, it's my last name

Mike Cohen
Posts: 3427
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 1:37 pm
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 13 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#110 Post by Mike Cohen »

Paul McCourt wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 10:25 pm There is little that is “right” or “wrong” in rules now. I view it simply as what feels right to me.

I continue to patronize a couple of my longtime favorite neighborhood joints because I like them and I want to support them with my dollars. I’m not going get worked up over BYOB or not. Right now it feels -to me- that just showing up is a good thing.
^This is how I feel. Forgetting take out meals, for the past year (locally), we have only eaten at restaurants that have been longtime favorites. This has been for two reasons. First, we want to support them as best as possible. Second is these particular restaurants have done a great job at making us feel safe and comfortable.

User avatar
Andy Steinman
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 699
Joined: April 30th, 2010, 3:56 am
Location: Salem, OR
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 13 times

Re: Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

#111 Post by Andy Steinman »

Sean's post above is right on target.

There is an implication in some posts that there is minimal skill involved in developing and maintaining a wine program.

There may be minimal skill an maintaining a corporate wine list dictated by a Distributor and served with generic glassware, but developing and maintaining a well conceived wine program that compliments the food served, offers interesting and unusual options and back vintages at fair prices, and provides good "wine infrastructure" (trained staff, proper glassware) requires skill, knowledge and investment.

My partners maintain a wine program sufficiently interesting that some guests dine with us as much for access to our Cellar as the food. When you visit a small restaurant and see a list offering back vintages, hard to find gems and such, please understand that it took a lot of work to get there.

We strive to ensure that there is something on the list that you will be very happy to buy. Aged Riesling - got it. Aged Barbaresco - which one would you like? Lots of local choices from both recent and back vintages, etc.

It is not only about money. Yes, we would like you to buy wine from our list. We are proud of the wine program, but the greatest compliment is when a guest arrives with their own bottle, looks at the list and decides to order a bottle (bottles hopefully!) rather than opening the bottle they brought. That is truly winning the prize.
ITB: Partner, Walter Scott Wines, Le Pigeon, Canard, and DigitalPour; Managing Director Metis NW

JoelD
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 57
Joined: December 10th, 2020, 8:12 am
Has thanked: 23 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#112 Post by JoelD »

Sean S y d n e y wrote: April 6th, 2021, 2:27 pm
alan weinberg wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:46 pm I’ve never really understood restaurant economics regarding triple retail wine pricing when I look around and see hardly a bottle on a table and read complaints about low food margins.
As someone who runs a wine list at a restaurant, I promise this is not being said in a lecturing tone (you'll just have to imagine my kind and dulcet tones): you are paying for the time spent creating the list and all the knowledge and expertise (hopefully!) that entails, time spent helping you choose the right bottle for you after consulting with you and figuring out what you want and knowing the intimate details of 150-200 choices and which bottle or two will hopefully be the right one, serving it to you in guaranteed good condition from a cellar at a proper temperature with good glassware, paying for those glasses to be washed, paying for the nice environment in which you'll consume it and, yes, to subsidize the food you're eating which would probably be 20-30% higher if the wine/booze wasn't marked up.

I try to keep markups as fair as possible - extra difficult in our regulatory environment that adds loads of costs onto beverage alcohol - and don't use a standard multiplier to decide what something should be on the list. Some are more, some are less, but restaurants aren't a charity and all of our livelihoods depend on achieving a certain margin of profit from the clientele. That said, I'll do everything in my power to ensure you never feel cheated, because I know first-hand what a bad taste that leaves in your mouth.

On corkage: if it exists, don't feel bad using it. I always appreciate a thoughtful and sympathetic guest, though, now more than ever.
I certainly appreciate all of this and it is well said. I completely respect the curation of a list, knowledge and maintaining the cellar and pairings. It's just not worth the 3-4x markup to ME. To others it is. The interesting aspect here, is that a lot of what is said above is not necessary when it comes to corkage. So a nominal fee is more than fair. Especially for anything they do need to do, such as supplying glassware and what not.

A lot of this has been said already but the main thing for me these days, is finding a restaurant with solid food that has a reasonable or even low corkage fee. Currently these are places that I probably wouldn't go otherwise, and even if I did, I would not be buying expensive bottles. I too can't get over the 3-4x markup on wine. The food is the real craft. And there are Lots of people who go to very nice restaurants and don't drink at all. So even my small corkage fee is better than them.

It is up to the business to do what makes sense for them, and the customer to work with it. As with everything in life, some businesses are better than others at this. Some are more customer service oriented, and some are just downright greedy. I like to think theres a happy medium. Bring wine if you want, follow their rules, and tip a little extra right now if you can. Or a lot extra if you feel they went above and beyond.
D a v i d s o n

Tom G l a s g o w
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9143
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 2:01 pm
Has thanked: 45 times
Been thanked: 40 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#113 Post by Tom G l a s g o w »

JoelD wrote: April 10th, 2021, 6:54 pm
Sean S y d n e y wrote: April 6th, 2021, 2:27 pm
alan weinberg wrote: April 4th, 2021, 2:46 pm I’ve never really understood restaurant economics regarding triple retail wine pricing when I look around and see hardly a bottle on a table and read complaints about low food margins.
As someone who runs a wine list at a restaurant, I promise this is not being said in a lecturing tone (you'll just have to imagine my kind and dulcet tones): you are paying for the time spent creating the list and all the knowledge and expertise (hopefully!) that entails, time spent helping you choose the right bottle for you after consulting with you and figuring out what you want and knowing the intimate details of 150-200 choices and which bottle or two will hopefully be the right one, serving it to you in guaranteed good condition from a cellar at a proper temperature with good glassware, paying for those glasses to be washed, paying for the nice environment in which you'll consume it and, yes, to subsidize the food you're eating which would probably be 20-30% higher if the wine/booze wasn't marked up.

I try to keep markups as fair as possible - extra difficult in our regulatory environment that adds loads of costs onto beverage alcohol - and don't use a standard multiplier to decide what something should be on the list. Some are more, some are less, but restaurants aren't a charity and all of our livelihoods depend on achieving a certain margin of profit from the clientele. That said, I'll do everything in my power to ensure you never feel cheated, because I know first-hand what a bad taste that leaves in your mouth.

On corkage: if it exists, don't feel bad using it. I always appreciate a thoughtful and sympathetic guest, though, now more than ever.
I certainly appreciate all of this and it is well said. I completely respect the curation of a list, knowledge and maintaining the cellar and pairings. It's just not worth the 3-4x markup to ME. To others it is. The interesting aspect here, is that a lot of what is said above is not necessary when it comes to corkage. So a nominal fee is more than fair. Especially for anything they do need to do, such as supplying glassware and what not.

A lot of this has been said already but the main thing for me these days, is finding a restaurant with solid food that has a reasonable or even low corkage fee. Currently these are places that I probably wouldn't go otherwise, and even if I did, I would not be buying expensive bottles. I too can't get over the 3-4x markup on wine. The food is the real craft. And there are Lots of people who go to very nice restaurants and don't drink at all. So even my small corkage fee is better than them.

It is up to the business to do what makes sense for them, and the customer to work with it. As with everything in life, some businesses are better than others at this. Some are more customer service oriented, and some are just downright greedy. I like to think theres a happy medium. Bring wine if you want, follow their rules, and tip a little extra right now if you can. Or a lot extra if you feel they went above and beyond.
The markup seems to be state by state, doesn’t have anything to do with whether the list is curator or done by a distributor. Some restaurants are just more expensive with higher markups. 4x is typical in PA.

JoelD
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 57
Joined: December 10th, 2020, 8:12 am
Has thanked: 23 times
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#114 Post by JoelD »

Tom G l a s g o w wrote: April 10th, 2021, 7:43 pm
The markup seems to be state by state, doesn’t have anything to do with whether the list is curator or done by a distributor. Some restaurants are just more expensive with higher markups. 4x is typical in PA.
That was just a general markup average that I've seen. On old wines, it can sometimes be 5-7x. When it starts to get under a 2x markup, thats when I consider buying bottles. Most recently at a fantastic sushi restaurant in SF they had a half bottle of Krug 168eme for 120. I figured that to be worth it. And it honestly was. I think for wines like this, at that price point a 1.5-2x markup from retail (they get it wholesale) it becomes worth it to me. I don't require most of the Somm's services. And at a lot of my favorite restaurants food wise, they don't pay for a traditional Somm. A manager or someone tends to wear that hat.

Occasionally I will do pairings for tasting menus, but only if I get a look first and make sure that I think what I'm getting is worth the price.
D a v i d s o n

User avatar
J a y H a c k
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 14448
Joined: May 29th, 2009, 9:59 am
Has thanked: 6 times
Been thanked: 42 times

Re: Should we BYOB?

#115 Post by J a y H a c k »

Victor Hong wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 1:33 pm What about cakeage?
Levenberg used to bring cheese to the Peter Lugeresque dinners and we all referred to what we paid as Cheeseage.

Back to the original question. Restaurants are free to make their rules and I always check in advance and follow their rules. I view those as management's rules based upon management's assessment of their best business model. However, the server didn't make the rule, and thus I always tip more. Assuming the service is good, my rule is to tip a higher percentage than normal - let's say 25% of the bill - and then add $10 for each bottle we bring. In New York, that normally gets the server something in the range of $20 per bottle extra (because I tip on the corkage). Is that right or fair? There is no right or fair, but it makes me feel good. The one thing I know is that the server needs the marginal dollar more than I do. BUT I will not pay $2,250 for a bottle of 2007 Scarecrow, which is what I saw on a list a few years ago. Instead, I offered to sell the somm my bottles for $900 each and we would both make a tidy profit. He declined.
Yes, that's a DM of 1978 Mouton!

You can read my Financial Institutions Law Blog at https://www.gdblaw.com/blog?practiceID=4985.

User avatar
Steve L Gellman
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1701
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 11:18 am
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

#116 Post by Steve L Gellman »

Miss those Lugeresque dinners!

What ever happened to Mark Franks?

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”