Should we BYOB? (Post-COVID)

Interesting article by Esther Mobley in the Chronicle:

Honestly I’m torn. My pre-Covid habit was to bring bottles to restaurants nearly always, and I would follow most of the ‘rules’ that Esther mentioned. But now things are reopening and clearly the restaurant industry has taken a massive beating. I want to support them.

Maybe I should hold off for a year and buy off lists? What if I just voluntarily pay a higher corkage? I know restaurants lists have shrunk a lot as many local places have sold off their wine to stay afloat. What if they don’t have anything I want to drink? What about restaurants I’ve been to many times that have crappy lists?

I actually haven’t started going to restaurants again, so this is all still a hypothetical. But that will likely change in the next few months. What do people think?

I think corkage while giving a higher tip/charge seems like a fair balance IMO.

If you don’t know for sure that there is a reasonably priced bottle that you will enjoy, I’d bring the wine, pay the corkage, and be extra generous with the server.

+1 This would benefit both the server and the restaurant.

Absolutely not. In many cases it is unlikely anything you would do would match the markup the restaurant would have made (certainly not tipping more, which goes to the server, which is a different topic).

I haven’t BYOBed since Jan 2020 (although admittedly part of that is due to the lockdown).

Perhaps it would match or exceed what beer or iced tea drinkers would spend.


What are markups like in Boston? I’m sure you remember what Philly markups are like.

Don’t get me started on Massachusetts!

I do remember being annoyed when my favorite Philly restaurant instituted a $2 corkage fee lol.

We are planning to take it on a case by case basis. We went to a restaurant in NYC recently, one we love and want to support, and the 4 of us brought 5 bottles, at $75 each corkage. Had we been buying off the list, we would have drunk a lot less, so we felt okay about that. The next night we went just the two of us to a place where we probably would have brought a bottle and paid the $60 corkage under normal circumstances, but chose to order something pleasant off the list instead. We don’t really go to restaurants where there is nothing at all we could enjoy on the list.

It hasn’t come up so much yet. I expect we’ll do bring one/buy one most of the time.

Isn’t BYOB not allowed in MA?

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Your point is? champagne.gif

kind of a strange gatekeeper article but the one she referenced inside is beyond obnoxious.

but both miss the mark in the same way; a business chooses how to run its business. it won’t ever be more or less complicated than that. if you want to bring, call in advance to confirm, get a name preferably. arrive on time, tip well, be a nice person, don’t camp out, etc.


No restaurant is required to allow corkage. They presumably choose to do it because they believe it’s a net plus for their overall business. So I don’t really understand why so many wine geeks are guilt-ridden about doing it, as though we are taking advantage of the restaurant or getting away with something.

By all means, if you want to buy more from them to support them, whether buying wine, more food, more dessert, going more often, tipping more, then it’s your money and your choice. But I don’t think you need to feel as though corkage in particular is something wrong to do right now.

Just my personal view. Of course everyone can follow their own feelings on the subject.


Thank you, I now feel better about not tipping.

At $60 or $75 corkage per bottle, I don’t see how a restaurant could have much complaint with BYOB. That’s around 2x-4x what I’d consider typical.

Which comes to the following point: a restaurant should set its corkage fee based on what makes economic sense for its business.

Don’t want customers to bring wine or want to preserve the wine list markup? Set a high corkage see to discourage use of that option.

If a restaurant has a generic and/or overpriced wine list and $20 corkage, then the outcome is not hard to predict. If a restaurant has a sommelier-curated wine list and $50+ corkage, then it should be a win-win scenario.

i have always viewed corkage as an overall plus for the restaurant when I utilize it. if I buy a bottle off the list, it will likely be A BOTTLE and likely one of the cheaper ones. When we bring something for corkage, typically we dont feel bad about getting a cocktail first, or a glass or two to proceed it, or do corkage for multiple bottles, plus we then tip well because the overall experience was better with our wine that i pre-selected to match the food that i likely had already looked at the menu ahead of time to decide on. we also typically share the wine with anyone willing to try it. so one cheap bottle at restaurant markup vs likely a couple cocktails, multiple corkages, plus a better tip and experience, plus tastes for staff… i know which i’d choose if i was the restaurant.

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Very fallacious argument.

There is no scenario where not tipping is an ethical option.

The closest analogy for corkage vs buy from list, regarding tipping, would be a restaurant having ‘all in’ menu prices, tip already included such as gratuity, vs a ‘tip afterward’ with lower menu prices. And a customer choosing the latter, then not tipping.

The scenario you imply is analogous to bringing a bottle, then refusing to pay corkage.

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Didn’t we already have this thread last year?

It was just as dichotomous then.

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Even if we did, I for one am interested to hear current opinions and plans now that dining out is becoming a reality again for many of us.