Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
C 0 R E Y M.
 
Posts: 1262
Joined: February 3rd 2010, 9:39am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #36  Postby C 0 R E Y M. » April 24th 2012, 2:41pm

Bruce Leiserowitz wrote:
Corey Miller wrote:Here's what I don't understand about high corkage: The only people I know who care about corkage at nice restaurants are wine geeks (I'm excluding the cheap Indian BYOB places that aggressively target students who want to bring in beer and yellowtail). To everyone else, it would never even occur to them to bring their own wine. But setting corkage high when you already have high markups on the list just tells wine geeks/collectors not to show up. I don't see how that creates any additional marginal revenue. The only people who care about corkage will be driven away, while it will have no effect on anyone else's behavior. And the people you're driving away are the type of people who tend to care a lot about food and are willing to spend a fair amount of money on it, and are likely to spread the word if they have a good experience. How does that make sense?


Corey--I'm by no means defending the high corkage policy, but let me suggest a theory. The restaurant would really prefer a customer base that generates the most revenue/profit per turn, meaning that they'll buy the overpriced wines off the list. Now, they could just say "no corkage allowed" but then they suspect they catch too much grief for not letting people bring in their special bottles. So they "compromise" with a $50 corkage fee that discourages many BYOB parties.

Bruce


Bruce, this makes sense only if the restaurant is busy enough that it can replace the byo people who are scared off by the high corkage fee with others who will order off the list. I get this in Vegas, where they're catering mostly to tourists and high-rollers and there's a pretty much never-ending stream of demand. It makes a lot less sense to me anywhere else.

Another issue is this: if the profit margin a restaurant makes off wine sales is so vital, that just tells you how overpriced the list is.
M = M i l l er

Advertisement

User avatar
Keith Levenberg
 
Posts: 5053
Joined: June 6th 2009, 3:11pm
Location: Washington, D.C.

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #37  Postby Keith Levenberg » April 24th 2012, 3:09pm

AKuehn wrote:I'm curious why some folks think allowing no corkage is a better option than charging a high fee. At least with the high fee, I have an option. Otherwise, I'm just stuck with the list, period. Of course, in my case the $50 fee is so high I'd probably just opt for no wine, which would reduce my enjoyment to the point that I'd probably not even walk in the door in the first place, but I'm sure I'm part of a small group. He doesn't need my business to make ends meet.

A high fee is fine - you can choose to pay it or not, and to dine there or not. What's not fine is when the fee is high because the restaurant doesn't like corkage and will express that dislike to you in some obnoxious or passive-aggressive way if you avail yourself of the policy and pay the fee. It would be better not to allow it at all.
User avatar
Bruce Leiser_owitz
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 10486
Joined: June 16th 2009, 12:54pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #38  Postby Bruce Leiser_owitz » April 24th 2012, 3:29pm

Keith Levenberg wrote:
AKuehn wrote:I'm curious why some folks think allowing no corkage is a better option than charging a high fee. At least with the high fee, I have an option. Otherwise, I'm just stuck with the list, period. Of course, in my case the $50 fee is so high I'd probably just opt for no wine, which would reduce my enjoyment to the point that I'd probably not even walk in the door in the first place, but I'm sure I'm part of a small group. He doesn't need my business to make ends meet.

A high fee is fine - you can choose to pay it or not, and to dine there or not. What's not fine is when the fee is high because the restaurant doesn't like corkage and will express that dislike to you in some obnoxious or passive-aggressive way if you avail yourself of the policy and pay the fee. It would be better not to allow it at all.


I agree with Keith's comments, although I would add that any restaurant attitude re: BYOB is wrong regardless of the amount of the corkage fee. You're in the service business.......

Bruce
"Bruce you are correct."--Andrew Kaufman, 3/24/13.
User avatar
Robert M yers
(Online)
ContributorContributor
 
Posts: 620
Joined: March 10th 2010, 9:24pm
Location: Cleveland

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #39  Postby Robert M yers » April 24th 2012, 3:35pm

For a high end restaurant I don't see $50 as obnoxious. Now for me this would be a special dining establishment (maybe not this one but of similar type ect), and to this type of place Im not going to bring anything under around a $100 bottle of wine. Most every high end restaurant is going to charge $200+ for that type of wine, so to me it's still a value. If you dine here on a regular basis and arent taking trophy wines in then I can see why the $50 is possibly offensive, but a party of two still isnt getting out with much less of a markup even if you bought cheaply from the list .
User avatar
David K o l i n
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
Born Under Punches
 
Posts: 10938
Joined: June 2nd 2009, 5:29pm
Location: ChiIl

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #40  Postby David K o l i n » April 24th 2012, 3:39pm

A restaurant should charge what they want. They just shouldn't be pissy about it when called out on it.

I very rarely visit restaurants with high corkage rates.
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." - Louis Brandeis

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Joseph Goebbels (reprised by D Trump)
User avatar
sdfruman
SubscriberSubscriber
BD Queen
 
Posts: 315
Joined: February 4th 2011, 2:59pm
Location: Waiting in Manassas

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #41  Postby sdfruman » April 24th 2012, 3:55pm

I could understand if the wine list was made to pair with the menu, but most aren't. In VA they passed a BYOB law last July, and very few restaurants either allow it, or their corkage is so high it's not worth bringing a bottle from home (not high end, special occasion places). This frustrates me, as I love good wine and food pairings, and always check out a wine list along with a menu before going to a new place. This is why I rarely go out to eat here and tend to do it more in Philly with my wine buddies up there where we never pay corkage. So, since I object, I take my dollars and business elsewhere. Restaurants are crazy in this economy to not do anything possible to bring customers in the door. If they are so dependent on wine list mark-ups for their profit margins, maybe they shouldn't be in business, IMHO.
Sheila

“There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”
― Bette Davis
User avatar
Paul Jaouen
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 3530
Joined: January 30th 2009, 1:48pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #42  Postby Paul Jaouen » April 24th 2012, 3:56pm

Quite a few high end and better (IMO) restaurants charge $35 corkage so this is pushing it. He obviously doesn't like corkage so he should man up and not allow it if that's how he feels.
Best,
Paul Jaouen
keith reame
 
Posts: 14
Joined: May 15th 2011, 8:35am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #43  Postby keith reame » April 24th 2012, 4:00pm

Hey, I think that we are missing something here. Think about the economics that are involved in a fine restaurant that has a substantial offering of fine wine on their list, especially wine with some age to it. First they have to purchase the wine and pay the shipping just like you and I do many years in advance. Then they have to store the wine in a temperature and humidity controlled environment in a dedicated space, sometimes for many years. Then there is the cost of keeping track of the inventory and spoilage and theft. This all costs money, labor and energy not to mention the present value of the dollar on the inventory while the restaurant ages the wine. I am not in the restaurant business but I can see how the costs can add up in maintaining a large inventory not to mention the carrying cost alone on a million dollars of wine.
Tom G l a s g o w
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 755
Joined: February 19th 2010, 3:01pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #44  Postby Tom G l a s g o w » April 24th 2012, 4:03pm

sdfruman wrote:I could understand if the wine list was made to pair with the menu, but most aren't. In VA they passed a BYOB law last July, and very few restaurants either allow it, or their corkage is so high it's not worth bringing a bottle from home (not high end, special occasion places). This frustrates me, as I love good wine and food pairings, and always check out a wine list along with a menu before going to a new place. This is why I rarely go out to eat here and tend to do it more in Philly with my wine buddies up there where we never pay corkage. So, since I object, I take my dollars and business elsewhere. Restaurants are crazy in this economy to not do anything possible to bring customers in the door. If they are so dependent on wine list mark-ups for their profit margins, maybe they shouldn't be in business, IMHO.

What are the corkage fees? It's good you're doing Byob in Philly, markups are typically 3 to 4 times retail.
User avatar
David K o l i n
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
Born Under Punches
 
Posts: 10938
Joined: June 2nd 2009, 5:29pm
Location: ChiIl

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #45  Postby David K o l i n » April 24th 2012, 4:04pm

keith reame wrote:Hey, I think that we are missing something here. Think about the economics that are involved in a fine restaurant that has a substantial offering of fine wine on their list, especially wine with some age to it. First they have to purchase the wine and pay the shipping just like you and I do many years in advance. Then they have to store the wine in a temperature and humidity controlled environment in a dedicated space, sometimes for many years. Then there is the cost of keeping track of the inventory and spoilage and theft. This all costs money, labor and energy not to mention the present value of the dollar on the inventory while the restaurant ages the wine. I am not in the restaurant business but I can see how the costs can add up in maintaining a large inventory not to mention the carrying cost alone on a million dollars of wine.



They must really get pissed when people order beer. That's what I would do
Last edited by David K o l i n on April 24th 2012, 4:06pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." - Louis Brandeis

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Joseph Goebbels (reprised by D Trump)
User avatar
SteveC
 
Posts: 2361
Joined: August 15th 2011, 11:04am
Location: New York/Boston

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #46  Postby SteveC » April 24th 2012, 4:05pm

MB doesn't allow corkage at Tarry Lodge in Portchester, NY. The guy is a douche.

It's not about $50 corkage. That's ok. It's him, his attitude, and the fact that he stole from his waitstaff.

Most owners waive corkage for regulars so that their staff gets a bigger tip. I routinely tip 30% if corkage is waived. no way MB would do this!!

Good chef - rotten attitude = no business from me
Ste ve C o yl e
""Too
User avatar
ChrisNovak
 
Posts: 101
Joined: January 20th 2011, 9:08pm
Location: Washington D.C....by way of Portland, OR

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #47  Postby ChrisNovak » April 24th 2012, 4:12pm

Tom M. wrote:Ignoring his unclassy irreverence, I agree with Mario's policy. At a restaurant of this level, $50 is probably an accurate estimate of lost beverages margin for 4-6 glasses of something. This is no more obnoxious than charging $19 for a glass of Bollinger Special, as I'm sure he also does (or something similar).

The bigger issue is why we as wine lovers continue to pay absurd markups for wine list wines, effectively subsidizing restaurants that can't turn a profit off of their food. I'm not saying Mario's restaurants are in that category, but it's a widespread problem.


I'm pretty much fine with most of what's been said regarding the arrogance in his reply, and the ridiculous pricing, but do feel that you have one glaring oversight in your post that should be kept in mind. As a veteran of the food service industry I would point out that there are VERY few fine dining restaurants able to turn a profit on food alone.

To help illustrate this point keep in mind the following about successful fine dining restaurants:
- they tend to be in areas where real estate prices and rental prices are very expensive
- they tend to have decor and ambiance that convey luxury and wow you....rarely cheaply accomplished.
- they tend to put a premium on training and retaining talent- be it chefs, servers, sommeliers, etc.
- they tend to be more fully staffed (both in the back (kitchen) and front (service) of the house)
- they tend to build into their margins a greater percentage of corrections to proactively satisfy dissatisfied guests ("O, you didn't realize you hated morels prior to ordering....no problem, I'll bring you something else")
- they tend to purchase quality ingredients which better showcase vision at the expense of super high markups

For years I worked in a fine-dining restaurant in the trendy Pearl District of Portland, OR. Every time I'd get a complaint about a $38, 12oz. grass-fed Ribeye steak, I'd have to hush the teacher inside of me who yearned to explain that "They were choosing to eat and enjoy the atmosphere of an area of the city which charges $23,000 a month rent. And if we were to abandon any of the above six factors we'd certainly not stay in business very long."

In summary, all of these things combine to ensure that alcohol sales are what allows most fine dining restaurants to stay in business. Mom & Pop destinations, or long established restaurants often either don't suffer from the same issues outlined above, or don't value each of them at the same level. They may be able to get by with no alcohol sales, or much more reasonable markups, but the industry is too competitive and expensive for the majority.
User avatar
Roberto Rogness
 
Posts: 18966
Joined: February 10th 2009, 11:16am
Location: Santa Monica, Rio de Janeiro

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #48  Postby Roberto Rogness » April 24th 2012, 4:18pm

Aside from crazy rent, I think all those casino restaurants have to pay a percentage of the GROSS to the house just like if you are in a shopping mall.

But still, that's no reason to act like that.
ITB Retail
É prohibido prohibir!
User avatar
Hank Gillespie
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1286
Joined: May 22nd 2010, 1:05pm
Location: Edmonton, AB Canada & Tucson, AZ

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #49  Postby Hank Gillespie » April 24th 2012, 4:30pm

Jeff Lewis wrote:A few data points on the Babbo wine list. Draw your own conclusions.


2005 Traviglini Gattinara 120 on the list 24 on Searcher
2005 Bea Sagrantino de Montefalco 165 on list, 70 on Searcher
2006 Ornellaia 390 on list, 160 on Searcher
2006 Sassicaia 525 on list, 180 on Searcher
2006 Setriolo Chianti Riserva 90 on list, 47 on Searcher.
2006 Taurasi Feudi di San Gregorio 95 on list, 40 on Searcher.


Does he carry only current vintages? The 2006 Sassicaia and Ornellaia were probably just released
two years ago. If I brought a wine to this restaurant it would certainly be something older - a wine
I wouldn't expect to find on the list - and something I wanted to enjoy in its maturity. Consequently
the $50 corkage wouldn't be as big a problem as the wine list deficiency.

Hank [cheers.gif]
C 0 R E Y M.
 
Posts: 1262
Joined: February 3rd 2010, 9:39am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #50  Postby C 0 R E Y M. » April 24th 2012, 4:31pm

keith reame wrote:Hey, I think that we are missing something here. Think about the economics that are involved in a fine restaurant that has a substantial offering of fine wine on their list, especially wine with some age to it. First they have to purchase the wine and pay the shipping just like you and I do many years in advance. Then they have to store the wine in a temperature and humidity controlled environment in a dedicated space, sometimes for many years. Then there is the cost of keeping track of the inventory and spoilage and theft. This all costs money, labor and energy not to mention the present value of the dollar on the inventory while the restaurant ages the wine. I am not in the restaurant business but I can see how the costs can add up in maintaining a large inventory not to mention the carrying cost alone on a million dollars of wine.


Sure, but doesn't any good retailer have the same issues? Why should a restaurant charge 3-4x as much for the same bottle? And very few restaurants actually have substantial back vintage offerings, and most of those are auction purchases (with the same provenance issues all auction purchases have) where the restaurant has not invested in aging the wine themselves; I don't think there are many restaurants actually buying wine for the purpose of aging it many years.

The ONLY really good justification (from a consumer's perspective) for the big restaurant markup is that you can send it back if something's wrong with it. You're effectively paying more for the insurance. I still don't think it's good value (although with post-96 white burg it might be).

Plus, I think everyone knows (as Chris discusses) that the wine program is a huge money-maker for restaurants; at many high-end restaurants the drinks effectively subsidize the food. If there's some kind of cost structure problem, it's on the food side, not the wine side.

Why most consumers will refuse to pay any more than the break-even cost of the food but will grossly overpay for the drinks is an interesting question.

Empirical issue: do restaurants charge more for food, relative to rent, in cities like Philadelphia where it's difficult to get a liquor license? Do the BYOs in Philly charge more for food (adjusted for rent) than the non-BYOs (are there any? I don't know)?
M = M i l l er
User avatar
ChrisNovak
 
Posts: 101
Joined: January 20th 2011, 9:08pm
Location: Washington D.C....by way of Portland, OR

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #51  Postby ChrisNovak » April 24th 2012, 4:33pm

Roberto Rogness wrote:Aside from crazy rent, I think all those casino restaurants have to pay a percentage of the GROSS to the house just like if you are in a shopping mall.

But still, that's no reason to act like that.


Totally agree. All of what I mentioned above does not excuse his making the shortsighted and damaging reply that he did. As much as I'd have loved to embark on my teacher lecture (see above) for all those clueless complainers, I knew even as a mere server that it would be counterproductive to my aim of a decent tip. As a restaurant owner and food icon his stakes are that much higher. You'd think after the recent flap of cheating his employees he'd keep his mouth shut and concentrate on repairing his brand rather than drawing a line in the sand....
Michael Powers
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 2479
Joined: March 6th 2010, 2:47pm
Location: St. Louis

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #52  Postby Michael Powers » April 24th 2012, 4:58pm

Corey Miller wrote:Here's what I don't understand about high corkage: The only people I know who care about corkage at nice restaurants are wine geeks (I'm excluding the cheap Indian BYOB places that aggressively target students who want to bring in beer and yellowtail). To everyone else, it would never even occur to them to bring their own wine. But setting corkage high when you already have high markups on the list just tells wine geeks/collectors not to show up. I don't see how that creates any additional marginal revenue. The only people who care about corkage will be driven away, while it will have no effect on anyone else's behavior. And the people you're driving away are the type of people who tend to care a lot about food and are willing to spend a fair amount of money on it, and are likely to spread the word if they have a good experience. How does that make sense?



This was always my take on the issue. Corkage policy plays into my decisions regarding top tier restaurants. The audience you alienate with a bad policy in this area are probably a group you want as customers, or so it would seem to me.
Jeff Lewis
 
Posts: 628
Joined: November 5th 2009, 7:47am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #53  Postby Jeff Lewis » April 24th 2012, 5:02pm

The wine list is quite extensive, 22 pages long. I was just looking for stuff I was confident would be at retail now.
Carl Steefel
 
Posts: 979
Joined: May 30th 2009, 3:45pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #54  Postby Carl Steefel » April 24th 2012, 5:09pm

Hank Gillespie wrote:
Jeff Lewis wrote:A few data points on the Babbo wine list. Draw your own conclusions.


2005 Traviglini Gattinara 120 on the list 24 on Searcher
2005 Bea Sagrantino de Montefalco 165 on list, 70 on Searcher
2006 Ornellaia 390 on list, 160 on Searcher
2006 Sassicaia 525 on list, 180 on Searcher
2006 Setriolo Chianti Riserva 90 on list, 47 on Searcher.
2006 Taurasi Feudi di San Gregorio 95 on list, 40 on Searcher.


Does he carry only current vintages? The 2006 Sassicaia and Ornellaia were probably just released
two years ago. If I brought a wine to this restaurant it would certainly be something older - a wine
I wouldn't expect to find on the list - and something I wanted to enjoy in its maturity. Consequently
the $50 corkage wouldn't be as big a problem as the wine list deficiency.

Hank [cheers.gif]

This was my post about a month ago. Many places don't have older bottles, so many of us at least would not be too interested in spending that much money on an overly young wine.
Barry L i p t o n
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1824
Joined: November 8th 2009, 9:59pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #55  Postby Barry L i p t o n » April 24th 2012, 5:36pm

I am fine with the $50 corkage.

I am fine with his response.

I really like the wine list at Babbo and while I haven't been for two years, I never have a problem finding an interesting wine for $65 or less.

The comparison to Wine Searcher seems fair (I'm assuming it's WS low price, not high price).

What do you think the markup on the bottled water is? Or a coke?

Corkage is far from pure profit unless you bring your own glasses and do your own wine related work and clean up as well.
Barry L i p t o n
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1824
Joined: November 8th 2009, 9:59pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #56  Postby Barry L i p t o n » April 24th 2012, 5:38pm

Keith Levenberg wrote:
AKuehn wrote:I'm curious why some folks think allowing no corkage is a better option than charging a high fee. At least with the high fee, I have an option. Otherwise, I'm just stuck with the list, period. Of course, in my case the $50 fee is so high I'd probably just opt for no wine, which would reduce my enjoyment to the point that I'd probably not even walk in the door in the first place, but I'm sure I'm part of a small group. He doesn't need my business to make ends meet.

A high fee is fine - you can choose to pay it or not, and to dine there or not. What's not fine is when the fee is high because the restaurant doesn't like corkage and will express that dislike to you in some obnoxious or passive-aggressive way if you avail yourself of the policy and pay the fee. It would be better not to allow it at all.


Agree 100%. My thought on the appropriate fee is what would you charge that you are just as happy to see the customer come in with a bottle of wine in their hand as without.

I've had snotty BYO service at places with low corkage; I'd truly rather they raise the corkage fee at those places (although it doesn't matter since I pretty much don't go back).
Chris S p i k e s
 
Posts: 2214
Joined: February 12th 2009, 11:48pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #57  Postby Chris S p i k e s » April 24th 2012, 5:45pm

Bruce Leiserowitz wrote:Per their website, the B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas has the 99 Flaccianello on the list for $280. I don't know that a $50 corkage fee is any "worse" than that kind of restaurant wine list pricing.

Bruce


And, just using pure economics, I see that wine for sale retail today at MacArthur for $99. $99 + $50 = $149 << $280. Big corkage is irritating, but far less than being forced into ordering something you're not crazy about and paying an absurd mark up. Coming from a land where corkage is rarely allowed (and usually illegal), I could live with $50 at a high end restaurant.

Chris
User avatar
Cris Whetstone
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: January 27th 2009, 2:09pm
Location: OC, CA

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #58  Postby Cris Whetstone » April 24th 2012, 6:09pm

Barry L i p t o n wrote:Corkage is far from pure profit unless you bring your own glasses and do your own wine related work and clean up as well.

This always seems like a strange excuse to me. Do they pay for wine glasses separately and have an extra busboy for wine with corkage fees? Of course not. Those are all regular items that are paid for with the cost of running the restaurant just as is your water glass and bread plates that cause extra cleanup. No one would complain about a nominal fee but when it starts going north of $20 you really have to wonder what the motivation is and what exactly it is you are 'paying for'.
WetRock

"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true." - Francis Bacon

"I had taken two finger-bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
User avatar
sdfruman
SubscriberSubscriber
BD Queen
 
Posts: 315
Joined: February 4th 2011, 2:59pm
Location: Waiting in Manassas

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #59  Postby sdfruman » April 24th 2012, 6:13pm

Tom G l a s g o w wrote:
sdfruman wrote:I could understand if the wine list was made to pair with the menu, but most aren't. In VA they passed a BYOB law last July, and very few restaurants either allow it, or their corkage is so high it's not worth bringing a bottle from home (not high end, special occasion places). This frustrates me, as I love good wine and food pairings, and always check out a wine list along with a menu before going to a new place. This is why I rarely go out to eat here and tend to do it more in Philly with my wine buddies up there where we never pay corkage. So, since I object, I take my dollars and business elsewhere. Restaurants are crazy in this economy to not do anything possible to bring customers in the door. If they are so dependent on wine list mark-ups for their profit margins, maybe they shouldn't be in business, IMHO.

What are the corkage fees? It's good you're doing Byob in Philly, markups are typically 3 to 4 times retail.

Tom, in VA now they range from $10 to $25 per bottle at places I've been, none high end. In Philly the food prices seem to be about the same as here in NoVA, so I don't think that is the reason, Corey. Philly has been a big BYOB town for years and maybe it has to do with the State Store system and the restaurants not having much selection themselves. When we do offlines and have 18-20 bottles opened, corkage can really add up and impact prices of attending an event. The Philly offline in May we're doing at Sonata is $85 per person, but we're taking over the whole restaurant and they have to cover their expenses for the night. Add in $20/bottle corkage and it's not such a good deal. There are so many great BYOB places I want to try in Philly we'll never get bored dining out. Not so here in NoVA, the land of the many chain restaurants.
Sheila

“There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”
― Bette Davis
User avatar
ChrisNovak
 
Posts: 101
Joined: January 20th 2011, 9:08pm
Location: Washington D.C....by way of Portland, OR

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #60  Postby ChrisNovak » April 24th 2012, 6:26pm

Cris Whetstone wrote:
Barry L i p t o n wrote:Corkage is far from pure profit unless you bring your own glasses and do your own wine related work and clean up as well.

This always seems like a strange excuse to me. Do they pay for wine glasses separately and have an extra busboy for wine with corkage fees? Of course not. Those are all regular items that are paid for with the cost of running the restaurant just as is your water glass and bread plates that cause extra cleanup. No one would complain about a nominal fee but when it starts going north of $20 you really have to wonder what the motivation is and what exactly it is you are 'paying for'.


While I share your threshhold of $20-25 acting as the line of what I find acceptable, I think its important to keep in mind that your corkage isn't really "paying for" anything. While it's obviously pure profit for the owner, it's real function is to act as a tax. Just like most taxes its function is to encourage behaviors you desire (avoiding roads at peak hours, carpooling, stop smoking, recycle, etc.)- which in this case is to purchase off list at prices that keep the restaurant afloat.

Just playing devil's advocate here (I don't know enough specifics about overhead at this restaurant, or its quality), but I would guess that somebody in a decision making capacity has carefully thought through their list prices, and aligned them to the point they feel assists in keeping the restaurant profitable. While exhorbitant, and unacceptable to most wine lovers nationwide, you have to keep in mind that it is Vegas.

Every time I go to New York I bitch about the $9-10 domestic beers. After a suitable amount of grudging indignation I usually remember all the things I mentioned in my earlier post, and acknowledge that I appreciate that New York has a diverse and thriving dining scene. If alcohol prices were to come down in order to match other markets, literally hundreds of Manhattan restaurants would be forced to close their doors due to their inability to fund the overhead (again, described above) involved in running a fine dining restaurant in NYC.
User avatar
LMD Ermitaño
 
Posts: 3045
Joined: January 30th 2009, 6:14am
Location: Philippines

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #61  Postby LMD Ermitaño » April 24th 2012, 6:48pm

I, personally, am generally averse to paying high corkage fees, but will (and do) bite the bullet if I like the restaurant enough. One example is Gaddi's at the Peninsula HK where the corkage is equivalent to a little over US$50/bottle, but the food, service, and ambiance justify it for me - plus, given their mark up on their wines with age, I'm better off paying corkage.

I've never eaten at any of Batali's restaurants, but I am willing to try one out - then decide whether or not paying US$50/bottle corkage is "justifiable".
Luis Manuel Debuque Monreal Ermi
User avatar
Bob Wood
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 19904
Joined: January 27th 2009, 10:30am
Location: Duck and Beaver Land

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #62  Postby Bob Wood » April 24th 2012, 6:53pm

Oh boy. Another "we're entitiled to 'reasonable' corkage because we're wine geeks" thread. Pass the popcorn and carry on.
"Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?" - Steve Jobs, 1983
User avatar
Victor Hong
 
Posts: 6586
Joined: May 30th 2009, 1:34pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #63  Postby Victor Hong » April 24th 2012, 7:20pm

Bob Wood wrote:Oh boy. Another "we're entitiled to 'reasonable' corkage because we're wine geeks" thread. Pass the popcorn and carry on.
Agreed.
WineHunter.
User avatar
Brent C l a y t o n
 
Posts: 4960
Joined: May 6th 2009, 9:21am
Location: Sunnyside, NY

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #64  Postby Brent C l a y t o n » April 24th 2012, 7:42pm

Bob, I think Keith's points are right on, it's not so much that one is 'entitled,' but rather that there is little motivation to support a restaurant that wants to rub your nose in it with attitude on top of a higher-than-comparable-places rate.

FWIW I've BYO'ed at Babbo twice. Once was a business dinner so I didn't see the bill but I definitely assumed corkage was waived for our table as the supplier paid and we had several bottles and a winery rep with us and a bottle or two was purchased off the list. The second time was with family, and my uncle almost always insists on bringing at least one bottle from home when we go out. Even though we had called and confirmed corkage beforehand as well as making it understood we would bring a bottle with us, there was a pronounced reminder at the table about the corkage fee, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it obnoxious. We did buy another 'good' bottle off the list as well as a couple serviceable whites for the non-wino family.

It would seem to me, at least, that the local CW on Babbo is that a $35 corkage fee would be commensurate with the quality of food and general popularity of the place but $50 is a stretch if you 'want' the BYO crowd. I'm quite sure the restaurant does just fine thank you with the tourists, 'weekend warriors,' and NYU crowd to not really have to worry.

I think the more interesting story here is not a rehashed corkage debate but the perception of the Twitter conversation and whether that really matters, at all to Batali's business/image.
Purveyor of Plonk ITB--Retail
User avatar
Cris Whetstone
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: January 27th 2009, 2:09pm
Location: OC, CA

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #65  Postby Cris Whetstone » April 24th 2012, 8:33pm

Victor Hong wrote:
Bob Wood wrote:Oh boy. Another "we're entitiled to 'reasonable' corkage because we're wine geeks" thread. Pass the popcorn and carry on.
Agreed.

But nothing is complete without sanctimony from Bob AND Victor. Care to yell down from the tower with your opinions boys or do we assume you love corkage and are willing to pay whatever restaurants will take?
WetRock

"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true." - Francis Bacon

"I had taken two finger-bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Barry L i p t o n
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1824
Joined: November 8th 2009, 9:59pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #66  Postby Barry L i p t o n » April 24th 2012, 8:47pm

Brent, is that their public BYO policy, i.e., if I call and ask, will the say BYO is ok (for a fee?)?
User avatar
Mel Hill
 
Posts: 5369
Joined: January 27th 2009, 1:56pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #67  Postby Mel Hill » April 24th 2012, 8:50pm

Brent C l a y t o n wrote:
I think the more interesting story here is not a rehashed corkage debate but the perception of the Twitter conversation and whether that really matters, at all to Batali's business/image.


[whistle.gif]

FWIW, his tweet is about what I would expect from him
User avatar
Tim Heaton
 
Posts: 659
Joined: September 8th 2011, 4:11pm
Location: Castle Rock, Colorado or Piemonte

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #68  Postby Tim Heaton » April 24th 2012, 9:27pm

"Corkage is far from pure profit unless you bring your own glasses and do your own wine related work and clean up as well."

Corkage is an economic profit, not a pure profit. Having said that, Batali (I know who you sailed with last year, sellout) is a d'bag
ITB
CT: Wine-Strategies
User avatar
Rick Gregory
 
Posts: 8729
Joined: January 27th 2009, 1:42pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #69  Postby Rick Gregory » April 24th 2012, 9:41pm

Brent C l a y t o n wrote:
I think the more interesting story here is not a rehashed corkage debate but the perception of the Twitter conversation and whether that really matters, at all to Batali's business/image.


Well, Batali didn't reply just to the person who tweeted at him... he structured the tweet so that all 272k of his followers saw it. And, well, he has 272,980 followers. There are newspapers with smaller circulation.
Dang Rick, I think that's right
User avatar
Roberto Rogness
 
Posts: 18966
Joined: February 10th 2009, 11:16am
Location: Santa Monica, Rio de Janeiro

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #70  Postby Roberto Rogness » April 24th 2012, 9:48pm

Love Jonathan Gold's response: @theJGold "At some places, I've been tempted. RT @Mariobatali we sell wine. Would you bring a steak?? RT @joeszeles $50 corkage fee!"
ITB Retail
É prohibido prohibir!
User avatar
Justin W ells
 
Posts: 235
Joined: January 28th 2009, 9:21am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #71  Postby Justin W ells » April 24th 2012, 10:23pm

Good evening, Sir I see you've brought some wine to enjoy with your dinner this evening. Very good, Sir.

Oh, you'd like a few ice buckets to keep the whites you've brought perfectly chilled? No problem, Sir.
Of course, Sir, I'd be happy to decant all your reds for you, not a problem at all, Sir. (Just one second while I grab half of the entire stock of decanters for the entire restaurant...)
I'd be happy to bring you and all your guests multiple Riedel stems each so you can all compare and contrast your wines at the same time, no problem, Sir. (That will only add an hour of extra labor at the end of the evening buffing 30 extra stems...)
Oh, your bottle of wine is corked, I'm sorry to hear that, Sir. Yes, I'd be happy to remove all those glasses it was poured into, bring a whole new flight of stems and a new decanter to decant your back-up bottle into. (Meanwhile that couple in the corner who is actually spending money, and not being pompous asses, would love just a bit more of my attention...)

Ice costs money. Stemware costs money. Employees cost money. Every single item you walk on, touch, use, or even see in a restaurant costs money. That 37 dollar entree you just snarfed down while guzzling your wine you brought has the LEAST amount of profit out of every single item the restaurant sells. It's all the peripherals. You want to help a restaurant make money and actually be around in 5 years? Order bottled water. Order dessert. Order a starter white. Pay corkage. Tip your server.

Do you honestly think the food alone pays for everything? I would lay odds that if you dined at the top 25 restaurants in any city, ate only an entree and drank water that you would actually COST the restaurant money.

Is 50 bucks a lot for corkage? Obviously. But the thought that it is "pure profit" for a restaurant is ridiculous at best.


Cris Whetstone wrote:
Barry L i p t o n wrote:Corkage is far from pure profit unless you bring your own glasses and do your own wine related work and clean up as well.

This always seems like a strange excuse to me. Do they pay for wine glasses separately and have an extra busboy for wine with corkage fees? Of course not. Those are all regular items that are paid for with the cost of running the restaurant just as is your water glass and bread plates that cause extra cleanup. No one would complain about a nominal fee but when it starts going north of $20 you really have to wonder what the motivation is and what exactly it is you are 'paying for'.
User avatar
David K o l i n
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
Born Under Punches
 
Posts: 10938
Joined: June 2nd 2009, 5:29pm
Location: ChiIl

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #72  Postby David K o l i n » April 24th 2012, 10:30pm

Lots of terrific restaurants in Chicago do well with no or minimal corkage, or waive corkage for good or friendly customers. How do they do it?
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." - Louis Brandeis

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Joseph Goebbels (reprised by D Trump)
User avatar
Cris Whetstone
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: January 27th 2009, 2:09pm
Location: OC, CA

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #73  Postby Cris Whetstone » April 24th 2012, 10:58pm

Justin W ells wrote:Ice costs money.


[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

I need to ask some restauranteurs for the sauce they have clearly given some of you. Blissful!


It's still funny to me that apparently you are paying a lot for service in said restaurants yet when wine enters the picture it is suddenly some burden or extra work. Where are all you guys when people are looking for excuses to restrict tips from waiters for some esoteric restaurants problem out of their control? What if corkage actually went to the waiter versus into the coffers of the restaurant itself?

Oh, and at $50, yes most of that is pure profit. What could your cost to the restaurant actually, honestly be for that one bottle you brought in that you probably do most of the handling yourself for?
WetRock

"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true." - Francis Bacon

"I had taken two finger-bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
User avatar
billnanson
 
Posts: 1117
Joined: October 22nd 2010, 11:08am
Location: Bern and Beaune

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #74  Postby billnanson » April 24th 2012, 11:09pm

D. Zylberberg wrote:$50 seems like a reasonable charge - replaces the profit he expects if you order off the list.

Does that mean people who drink water - drivers for instance - are not welcome?
about.me/nanson
User avatar
Justin W ells
 
Posts: 235
Joined: January 28th 2009, 9:21am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #75  Postby Justin W ells » April 24th 2012, 11:50pm

Gotta love your ridiculous response. Perhaps you'd like to respond to the actual points raised?

Sorry to break it to you, but at least 80% of the time it's not just one bottle, especially when wine geeks are concerned. There's also a substantial difference between "profit" and dollars on the bottom line.

I'm not defending MB's choice of words or amount he charges, I'm merely trying to show you a different side to your "they should be lucky I'm even gracing them with my presence, how dare they charge ME for a service!". Do you not view corkage as a service? Do you truly believe that bringing a bottle of wine into a restaurant costs the restaurant zero dollars?


Cris Whetstone wrote:
Justin W ells wrote:Ice costs money.


[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

I need to ask some restauranteurs for the sauce they have clearly given some of you. Blissful!


It's still funny to me that apparently you are paying a lot for service in said restaurants yet when wine enters the picture it is suddenly some burden or extra work. Where are all you guys when people are looking for excuses to restrict tips from waiters for some esoteric restaurants problem out of their control? What if corkage actually went to the waiter versus into the coffers of the restaurant itself?

Oh, and at $50, yes most of that is pure profit. What could your cost to the restaurant actually, honestly be for that one bottle you brought in that you probably do most of the handling yourself for?
A Ballin
 
Posts: 205
Joined: April 27th 2010, 5:43am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #76  Postby A Ballin » April 24th 2012, 11:51pm

I think his policy is totally fair and reasonable.

If you dont like, dont go. Its his restaurant, not the red cross.
Adam
User avatar
Humberto Dorta
ContributorContributor
 
Posts: 2828
Joined: February 4th 2009, 12:55pm
Location: Meadville, PA

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #77  Postby Humberto Dorta » April 25th 2012, 4:22am

Barry L i p t o n wrote:I am fine with the $50 corkage.

I am fine with his response.

I really like the wine list at Babbo and while I haven't been for two years, I never have a problem finding an interesting wine for $65 or less.

The comparison to Wine Searcher seems fair (I'm assuming it's WS low price, not high price).

What do you think the markup on the bottled water is? Or a coke?

Corkage is far from pure profit unless you bring your own glasses and do your own wine related work and clean up as well.

I was there six months ago. New somm sucks. 0/3 in her pairing recs and even more aggravating 1/3 on her description of the wines.
--Berto
User avatar
Paul Jaouen
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 3530
Joined: January 30th 2009, 1:48pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #78  Postby Paul Jaouen » April 25th 2012, 4:51am

Roberto Rogness wrote:Aside from crazy rent, I think all those casino restaurants have to pay a percentage of the GROSS to the house just like if you are in a shopping mall.


In the same hotel, Pinot Brasserie does zero corkage and allows unlimited bottles.
Best,
Paul Jaouen
drsugarman
 
Posts: 538
Joined: January 28th 2009, 7:14am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #79  Postby drsugarman » April 25th 2012, 4:53am

chaad thomas wrote:
J a y C a i n wrote:It does seem like a fairly truculent response to a legitimate question.

"@Mariobatali what's up with the $50 corkage fee @ B& B. Outrageous!" does NOT qualify as a "legitimate question" in my mind. It's clear that, as a tweet, it was an attempt to humiliate Batali in a public fashion, and therefore, it's not surprising such an effort elicited a contentious response (which, of course, is not to defend the wisdom of such).

I agree with Chaad here ... though clearly Mario missed the exit to the High Road when it was presented ...
As far as $50 corkage goes ... at least they allow it.
D a v i d S u g a r m a n
I T B
Brian Gilp
 
Posts: 1182
Joined: May 29th 2010, 6:00am

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #80  Postby Brian Gilp » April 25th 2012, 4:56am

J Diven wrote: But this is Vegas and looking at the menu, a grilled pork chop costs $45. So if you are a wine drinker choosing to dine there, yeah I imagine they are looking to make $50+ off you in wine. Most restaurants in Seattle are 2x+ retail, granted at lower price points, so seeing 3x retail at this place doesn't surprise me. I'll never go there, but i'm not the audience.


FWIW other celebrity chef restaurants on the strip do have 2X retail wine lists. I was there in Feb and both Bradley Ogden in Ceasers and Jullian Serrano tappas in Aria were both 2X. There were even a few older bottles at Jullian Serrano's. Sure you can find 3X+ wine lists on the strip but the fact that this is Vegas does not automatically justify the pricing.
User avatar
Mike Heyse
ContributorContributor
 
Posts: 1051
Joined: April 28th 2010, 6:10am
Location: Baltimore & DC

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #81  Postby Mike Heyse » April 25th 2012, 5:46am

Went out for dinner last night at a new Italian place near me. It was a "wine club" night, where the owner is only open for a few folks, and serves off menu stuff. $15 for the meal, which was 6 courses! And free corkage.

On the windowsill next to my table... One of Battali's books! I guess it didn't have a chapter on customer service.
Tom G l a s g o w
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 755
Joined: February 19th 2010, 3:01pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #82  Postby Tom G l a s g o w » April 25th 2012, 6:52am

Corey Miller wrote:Empirical issue: do restaurants charge more for food, relative to rent, in cities like Philadelphia where it's difficult to get a liquor license? Do the BYOs in Philly charge more for food (adjusted for rent) than the non-BYOs (are there any? I don't know)?

I haven't compared Phila. food prices for a difference between BYOB v. licensed restaurants, but I expect prices to be roughly the same. PA restaurants buy from the state system with a nominal discount. NJ also has high markups but due to typically higher license prices. Liquor license in NJ are issued by the municipality and the number of licenses per capita varies greatly. The owner of a license is able to sell the license at what the market will bare. In places like Cherry Hill prices reached a pre-recession peak of $1.5 million which crowded out all but chain restaurants.
Tom G l a s g o w
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 755
Joined: February 19th 2010, 3:01pm

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #83  Postby Tom G l a s g o w » April 25th 2012, 6:59am

Cris Whetstone wrote:
Justin W ells wrote:Ice costs money.


[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

I need to ask some restauranteurs for the sauce they have clearly given some of you. Blissful!


It's still funny to me that apparently you are paying a lot for service in said restaurants yet when wine enters the picture it is suddenly some burden or extra work. Where are all you guys when people are looking for excuses to restrict tips from waiters for some esoteric restaurants problem out of their control? What if corkage actually went to the waiter versus into the coffers of the restaurant itself?

Oh, and at $50, yes most of that is pure profit. What could your cost to the restaurant actually, honestly be for that one bottle you brought in that you probably do most of the handling yourself for?

The restaurant's goal like every other business is to be as profitable as possible. A big part of that particularly for the restaurant in question is beverages, especially wine. Free corkage just lowers the profit margin.
C 0 R E Y M.
 
Posts: 1262
Joined: February 3rd 2010, 9:39am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #84  Postby C 0 R E Y M. » April 25th 2012, 7:07am

Tom G l a s g o w wrote:[quote="Corey MillerEmpirical issue: do restaurants charge more for food, relative to rent, in cities like Philadelphia where it's difficult to get a liquor license? Do the BYOs in Philly charge more for food (adjusted for rent) than the non-BYOs (are there any? I don't know)?

I haven't compared Phila. food prices for a difference between BYOB v. licensed restaurants, but I expect prices to be roughly the same. PA restaurants buy from the state system with a nominal discount. NJ also has high markups but due to typically higher license prices. Liquor license in NJ are issued by the municipality and the number of licenses per capita varies greatly. The owner of a license is able to sell the license at what the market will bare. In places like Cherry Hill prices reached a pre-recession peak of $1.5 million which crowded out all but chain restaurants.[/quote]

My point is that this is a good empirical test of the claim that restaurants can't survive without high markups on wine/high corkage fees and that the profits from beverage sales subsidize the food. If that's true, then we should expect the food to cost more at BYO restaurants than at non-BYO restaurants since the BYO restaurants can't cross-subsidize the food with beverage sales. But if we find that byo and non-byo restaurants are charging the same prices for food (adjusted for rent), and the byo places aren't going out of business, then that casts doubt on the cross-subsidization claim.
M = M i l l er
User avatar
Joe Hauck
 
Posts: 3758
Joined: January 27th 2009, 1:50pm
Location: Las Vegas

Re: Mario Batali tweets on corkage...

Post #85  Postby Joe Hauck » April 25th 2012, 7:08am

Paul Jaouen wrote:
Roberto Rogness wrote:Aside from crazy rent, I think all those casino restaurants have to pay a percentage of the GROSS to the house just like if you are in a shopping mall.


In the same hotel, Pinot Brasserie does zero corkage and allows unlimited bottles.


+1 they get it though and love wine geeks.


And Roberto you're absolutely incorrect in assuming that they pay a percentage to he house. Most of the the restaurant and mall areas are not even run by the property itself, you are also given a large construction allowance that depends on how long you sign a lease for. I recently built 2 restaurants in the Venetian that were each given a $800,000 construction allowance for signing a ten year lease.
One of the few good things about

Return to Wine Talk

logo
Food Advertising by