Why a 2 bottle limit on corkage?

I tried to book a table for a special dinner at a well known NY restaurant. I won’t name it. There are others with a two bottle limit.

The dinner required half a dozen bottles with at least twenty years of age. The restaurant list of course had mostly young wines, and they were willing to allow two bottles, but two bottles only. Corkage was a pretty hefty $125 per bottle, far more than the cheapest wine on the list, so limiting numbers made no sense. Kind of curious how this makes sense.


The only reason I could think of is they simply don’t want, need, or welcome your business.


To keep people like you away. neener

1 Like

I’ve always assumed it’s because wine dinners with many bottles require a disproportionate amount of time from the staff that is more than a purely monetary consideration.


Because corkage is a privilege, not a right?


Obviously they have the right to set whatever policy they like. Mark was just wondering if anyone had an explanation for the rationale behind the policy.

I always assumed the same as Sarah. It’s not a cost thing but an annoyance thing as it’s a pain to manage multiple bottles. Of course in my experience they won’t change that policy even if we promise to handle all the wine service ourselves and bring our own glasses.


I’ve pondered that many times.

A restaurant is fine (1) if you don’t drink wine or alcoholic beverages at all with your dinner, (2) with you ordering as many bottles as you want, (3) if as few as one or two dine there and bring bottles up to the two bottle limit, and (4) if the six of you bring six bottles and just sit in pairs of two at three different tables.

But the one and only thing they are prohibiting is three or more BYO bottles at a single table, even a table with a large group.

I don’t think you can find any compelling logic there, and so I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s either or both of (a) it’s just not something that the restaurant thought through very much and/or just copied the idea from other restaurants, and (b) the real point is to prevent wine geek tasting gatherings at their restaurant.

I guess some restaurants may just not like the look of a group of people with a bunch of BYO bottles and glasses all over the table, may not have liked the experience of the people in those groups in the past, maybe it doesn’t create the right image for them among the rest of the “conventional” diners, or something like that?

That’s just a guess, but it’s the best guess I can come up with.


$125 per!!! Holy f*ck…


Not relevant to a $125/cork policy, but an anecdote of at least one’s experience with generous BYO policies:
Good Italian restaurant in Chelsea used to have a great cork policy, I think was $15/bottle no cap. They then raised it to $40 and instituted 2 bottle cap. I asked why and they said a couple of “wine groups would come in, bring 30 bottles, take many tables, sit there for 4 hours during peak dinner service, complain about not getting enough service, and not order enough food”. Sounds like it happened a couple of times within a few months and they were done with the policy. Was a bummer because it was a great wine-friendly spot on those Tuesdays, until it was apparently taken advantage of.


Go to another restaurant. The more business these types of restaurants lose, the more they will change their policies. The more people cave in and go to the restaurant anyway, the more draconian the BYO policies will become.

As for a reason, they probably want to turn over the tables and people bringing 12 bottles will stay at the table longer. This is what I was told by a waitress at one restaurant in DC.


Chris and Shan both captured the point well, i.e. people lingering and the consequence to the margin/bottom line. I don’t fall them for that.

Locally, there is a place real close to Chris and I, my favorite place in all of our area. FWIW, here is their link: https://www.marchemoderne.net/amelia_florent.html

They have a $45 cork, 2 bottle max. I didn’t like the policy change and I resisted it but I finally settled into accepting it. When we go, we usually dine with one other couple, each brings a bottle, and that’s it. For 4 people, 2 bottles is enough. I’ll accept it for the ultra-high level of service and quality to which Marche is known for.

1 Like

When I’ve arranged wine dinners, I’ve simply asked them to quote a per head price on corkage for the number of bottles we plan to bring as well as a fixed price menu. Usually, you’re best off going to the GM/owner directly with these kinds of requests since they’ll know how much money they need to make per seat per night and just charge accordingly. If they’re willing to include a service charge/tip and let guests pre-pay, then even better.

I have no problem with the fact that a restaurant is ultimately a business and if we want to occupy a table for 4 hours and use 100 stems that we need to pay for it (sometimes they’ll simply rent the stems and pass thru the cost into the all in price). I just hate giving business to places that are needlessly inflexible.


Yaacov has said this many times, but BYO policy does not help the restaurant bottom line at all. In the end, it’s something they do because they want to do as an extra benefit to clients.

Multi-bottle BYO dinners aren’t appropriate for all restaurants. It sounds like the restaurant Mark tried doesn’t see these dinners as appropriate.

As a group, wine people (especially if they self identify as a “wine geek”) demand a lot more service and attention of restaurant staff than the profit on the tables or even their repeat business generates (mostly, wine geeks only come infrequently and bring their own wines all the time).

After reading the last few threads, I’m considering increasing corkage and putting a bottle limit in place.


At $125 per bottle, how does this not go to bottom line? Where does it go? For $15, I get it, for $125, I’m not following?


given that any corkage policy does not make sense, it logically follows that this particular corkage policy also does not make sense.

i’d say you’re over-thinking this problem, but there isn’t even a problem to think upon.

Can someone please post to Yaccov’s synopsis on why offering a corkage policy does not make sense?

I respectfully, but completely, disagree with that statement. 95%+ of fine dining restaurants in LA/OC allow corkage, only rarely with exorbitant fees, usually without per-table limits, and so I’m confident it’s not some act of generosity or some giveaway from them to their customers.

Why would restaurants, who struggle even in the best of times and operate on small margins, voluntarily worsen themselves off financially for the benefit of BYO customers? Why don’t restaurants who disallow BYO (as every restaurant everywhere is free to do) outperform the others?

And I dine in Texas a decent amount, where BYO is usually not allowed, and the notion that restaurants can run great and reasonably priced wine programs if BYO isn’t allowed is clearly not correct, in my experience, but rather the exact opposite.

WBers have cultivated a weird guilt complex about BYO at restaurants whose policies allow it. Bring a bottle and paying the listed $25 corkage fee is no more something you should feel bad about than buying the $12 Caesar salad or the $3 Diet Coke on their menu.


He thinks corkage doesn’t make sense from an economic sense based on his analysis. While I don’t doubt that, that begs the question of why some very popular and successful restaurants which are always full and have excellent wine lists offer corkage, often at a very reasonable price, when they clearly don’t have to.

Isn’t this why God created ethnic restaurants? [wink.gif]

Let me clarify a few things.
I ended up getting the 2 bottle waived, as long as I bought 2 bottles from the list. They then lost the reservation, so the whole thing is moot. I thought stupidity and incompetence did not bode well.