Increased corkage post-COVID?

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Message
Author
Barry L i p t o n
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3396
Joined: November 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#251 Post by Barry L i p t o n » August 17th, 2020, 1:04 pm

While I'm on the side of any any corkage charge is a fair charge (not that I will always willing to pay it when it gets to $80 plus per bottle), I don't see how anyone dropping $3k on a dinner could be accused of not being supportive. That's certainly more support than I've given my local restaurants in the last 5 months in total.

L. Bryant
Posts: 23
Joined: February 5th, 2020, 6:15 pm

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#252 Post by L. Bryant » August 18th, 2020, 5:00 pm

Why are we conflating "restaurant business model" with caring about the people in that industry?

I stopped dining out a long time ago when I realized you're not supposed to ask questions, jut "gladly" and generously pay up and tip 20+% on takeout drip coffee.

Either you don't have enough money to "afford the experience" or you're a horrible cheapskate and terrible human for even THINKING whether prices are reasonable
Last edited by L. Bryant on August 18th, 2020, 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
L a n d r e s

L. Bryant
Posts: 23
Joined: February 5th, 2020, 6:15 pm

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#253 Post by L. Bryant » August 18th, 2020, 5:24 pm

Of COURSE the person with twelve sports cars can b!t*$ch and moan about dealer pricing. While I generally understand "disagreement" with the OP, much of it strikes me as saying "such a person" cannot question/inquire into whether prices/charges are reasonable or standard.

I disagree with that. Period. Even WHEN the retort/back end of that isn't simply and always "then you can't afford it!!!"

The business model (the heart of it) is left unaddressed and stamped as if from the POV of the workers
L a n d r e s

User avatar
Jay Miller
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 15259
Joined: June 19th, 2009, 5:18 pm
Location: Jersey City

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#254 Post by Jay Miller » August 19th, 2020, 7:23 am

Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 16th, 2020, 6:27 pm
Arv R wrote:
August 16th, 2020, 5:12 pm
Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 16th, 2020, 9:01 am


Danny Meyer adopted a no-tipping/one price policy at all of his restaurants, which he has abandoned in the wake of the pandemic. It would be interesting to hear if he intends to go back
Danny Meyers FOH abandoned it/him -- they had quite a bit of turnover. If you have great sales people who can move high dollar wine, suddenly their comms on it are slashed (i.e. tips) they are going to find places where they can get paid.
I thought they were no-tips for at least a couple of years until COVID
Yes, it wasn't so much that they wouldn't work hard without tips (though that might have been the case for a few) it was that if they moved to another restaurant they'd get paid more for working equally hard. And since DM trained workers were in demand they kept leaving.

I really, really like the no tip model but I'm afraid it didn't work out well for them.
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1438
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#255 Post by Sh@n A » August 19th, 2020, 7:26 am

Why did it not work out well? Did wine sales decline? I do not recall it being easier to obtain reservations.
/ @ g r @ \

Mich@el Ch@ng
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5862
Joined: March 31st, 2017, 9:57 pm

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#256 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » August 19th, 2020, 9:11 am

Sh@n A wrote:
August 19th, 2020, 7:26 am
Why did it not work out well? Did wine sales decline? I do not recall it being easier to obtain reservations.
I imagine losing employees to competitors that paid more (once tips were taken into account).

Alex Valdes
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 333
Joined: June 22nd, 2020, 12:47 pm
Location: CT

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#257 Post by Alex Valdes » August 19th, 2020, 10:57 am

(These are some choppy waters...)

Putting aside what restaurants are going through at the moment (as I think, while incredibly important, should be separated from the age-old corkage debate), I would characterize the problem most people have with paying corkage as “why are you charging me to open my wine?” Similarly, from the restaurant owners side, it’s characterized as “I make money on wine so make up for not buying any”. Respectfully, I believe this framing Is lacking, leading to issues like “so people who don’t drink alcohol are a problem?” Instead, I think there are just two points to consider: 1) a restaurant is there to serve you their food/drink so bringing in outside food/drink is an exception which the restaurant (Sometimes the state) can handle either through a ban* or a fee. I am not hearing much disagreement on this point but it’s important to ground here. 2) wine service is more than opening a bottle - it involves stemware and possibly decanting and/or other service related activities. You are paying for all of this (this is obvious but said for completeness). If I go somewhere offering quality stemware, competent management of bottles (temperature, cork removal, handling) that is worth more than a basic level of service. I personally inquire about such things prior to bringing wine to make sure the corkage and the price are reasonably matched. If I am not confident in the service I usually skip wine - brought or purchased - all together.

So, for reasonable service, what should the price be? That is a tough question but my number at a quality NYC restaurant with quality service is about 1 Zalto (it goes down from there as restaurant and service quality decline and in some places, with exceptional service, up a bit). I put it there for two reasons: 1) what is the hurtle of markup that would incentivize me to bring a bottle? and 2) what do I expect the cost of service to roughly be? At that level it is both a good hurtle and likely in line with what it costs to put forth good service (I might break glass, etc). I think the hurtle is important because it’s a important signal to consumers, telling them what level of wine program they offer and what kind of diner they are looking to accommodate. Offering no corkage and a great program is a big sign to the wine geek community beckoning them to come dine, while $125 corkage + must not be on the menu restriction is a sign they take their program very seriously and their cellar is a selling point.

This all begs the question, why corkage to begin with? Well clearly it’s the markup. Now, like buying a house where commission is a percent of the sale, percent markup only becomes a large nominal expense as the price reaches high levels. Sure, $50 -> $100 is not nothing but $300 -> $600 feels like theft to some people (regardless of wealth) let alone $1000 -> $2000. I am not here to argue over the business model, simply to say I am grateful to live in a place where, if you desire to drink $$$ bottles at a restaurant, you have the opportunity to bring your own and pay a nominal fee (also fortunate for the many restaurants along the spectrum offering great food and wine programs at different corkage fees).

Ok, now what happens in a post COVID world and how should I/we act?

I am personally having a hard time with this question. I value(d) going out, sharing wine with friends and family over expertly executed meals with the wine handled by competent somms. I don’t see that happening again for a while, at least not frequently. If that is no longer part of my life then I will be sad until I find a replacement for that feeling.

From an economics perspective, since I am likely to go out less and mostly for special reasons, on the margin I am willing to pay more (and given the fixed cost of operating vs the large hit to potential revenue given the restrictions) expect to pay more. What is interesting to me is, everything has a hurtle. If going to dinner for 4 goes from 150 per person to 300 per person for pretty good food that becomes a deterrent for many. Usually, prices go up due to demand (inflation) but demand is going down and prices likely need to go up to meet fixed costs and legal requirements (stagflation-like). Having corkage as an option is a good way to reduce friction. I hope more restaurants offer it and, perhaps, variable rates on different days.

*NB I have been places where the law allows and they do not offer corkage. I have had some success offering to pay for the cheapest bottle on the menu (the couple times I’ve done this the cheapest bottle was about $70 - right at my corkage pricepoint) as corkage. Both times we were about 8-10 people.

Sh@n A
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1438
Joined: July 9th, 2018, 8:21 am

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#258 Post by Sh@n A » August 19th, 2020, 12:23 pm

Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
August 19th, 2020, 9:11 am
Sh@n A wrote:
August 19th, 2020, 7:26 am
Why did it not work out well? Did wine sales decline? I do not recall it being easier to obtain reservations.
I imagine losing employees to competitors that paid more (once tips were taken into account).
If DM restaurants still did the volume/profitability, what was the loss to DM? Just being a less desirable place to work? I imagine he could have still cut in front-of-the-house in a % of wine sales (e.g., 5-10% of all wines sold) and still maintained a no tipping policy without losing the incentive of selling wine?
/ @ g r @ \

User avatar
Leonard Maran
Posts: 1164
Joined: August 26th, 2009, 1:13 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#259 Post by Leonard Maran » August 19th, 2020, 3:19 pm

Zazie in Cole Valley has had free corkage Tuesdays as long as I can remember. Currently, they are abiding by SF law, which only allows outdoor dining, though they are blessed with a lovely patio. I reached out to them and was told the Tuesdays continue and will also do so once dining in is again possible.

Jim V a n P e l t
Posts: 1199
Joined: June 5th, 2009, 1:58 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#260 Post by Jim V a n P e l t » August 20th, 2020, 9:38 pm

H Wallace Jr wrote:
August 4th, 2020, 3:17 pm
I can't imagine bringing wine into a restaurant right now.
I can't imagine going to an (indoor) restaurant right now.

User avatar
Jeremy Holmes
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 7213
Joined: April 28th, 2010, 3:50 pm

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#261 Post by Jeremy Holmes » August 20th, 2020, 9:46 pm

Imagine all the people.
ITB

Rauno E (NZ)
Posts: 2310
Joined: March 13th, 2012, 12:32 am

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#262 Post by Rauno E (NZ) » August 20th, 2020, 10:50 pm

Indeed. That's just living for today!
Rauno Engel

User avatar
etomasi
Posts: 1052
Joined: November 22nd, 2013, 11:48 am
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#263 Post by etomasi » September 6th, 2020, 8:49 pm

Digging this up. I have no problem with increased corkage. I know its a privilege and I think restaurants should price it accordingly. I found an interesting quirk tonight. I've dined out brought wine a couple times to restaurants during phase 2 in DC with no issues. Tonight, we went to a restaurant that had a great patio and to which I've brought wine at least a dozen times pre-covid They refused corkage, which is fine, as I havent been to that restaurant since March. But then the people at the next table told us they brought wines twice to this place in the last few weeks. I was like, weird, maybe the waitress didnt understand. After going to the bathroom, I briefly talked with the manager and she said the reason is the DC restaurant Covid restrictions dont allow corkage. I looked through the restaurant guidance and couldnt find anything. Anyone else hear this?
---
Eric Tomasi
CT: Ericindc

User avatar
Chris Seiber
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9592
Joined: April 28th, 2010, 3:22 pm
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#264 Post by Chris Seiber » September 7th, 2020, 12:51 am

etomasi wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 8:49 pm
Digging this up. I have no problem with increased corkage. I know its a privilege and I think restaurants should price it accordingly. I found an interesting quirk tonight. I've dined out brought wine a couple times to restaurants during phase 2 in DC with no issues. Tonight, we went to a restaurant that had a great patio and to which I've brought wine at least a dozen times pre-covid They refused corkage, which is fine, as I havent been to that restaurant since March. But then the people at the next table told us they brought wines twice to this place in the last few weeks. I was like, weird, maybe the waitress didnt understand. After going to the bathroom, I briefly talked with the manager and she said the reason is the DC restaurant Covid restrictions dont allow corkage. I looked through the restaurant guidance and couldnt find anything. Anyone else hear this?
Honestly, at this point, 90% of the time a person, business or government tells you something can’t happen because of COVID, that isn’t the actual reason. Everyone just knows it’s the card they can play and most people will feel like you can’t argue with it.

“Sorry we had to lay you off, but it’s because of COVID.”

“Your 8 year old can’t play little league baseball, it’s not safe because of COVID.”

“Sorry, you can’t bring wine to the restaurant anymore, we are trying to stop the spread of COVID.”

“Our university is cutting a bunch of sports, we were forced to do it because of COVID.”

I’m not actually even bothered by restaurants not allowing corkage, at all, but I’m sort of past nodding my head sympathetically every time someone plays the COVID card anymore.

Michae1 P0wers
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4433
Joined: March 6th, 2010, 1:47 pm
Location: St. Louis

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#265 Post by Michae1 P0wers » September 7th, 2020, 8:49 am

Chris Seiber wrote:
September 7th, 2020, 12:51 am

Honestly, at this point, 90% of the time a person, business or government tells you something can’t happen because of COVID, that isn’t the actual reason. Everyone just knows it’s the card they can play and most people will feel like you can’t argue with it.

“Sorry we had to lay you off, but it’s because of COVID.”

“Your 8 year old can’t play little league baseball, it’s not safe because of COVID.”

“Sorry, you can’t bring wine to the restaurant anymore, we are trying to stop the spread of COVID.”

“Our university is cutting a bunch of sports, we were forced to do it because of COVID.”

I’m not actually even bothered by restaurants not allowing corkage, at all, but I’m sort of past nodding my head sympathetically every time someone plays the COVID card anymore.
What? Sorry, but this is absolute nonsense. Maybe 9% of the time it isn't, but most of the time that is exactly why something is happening. COVID is why kids can't play little league. What do you think the reason is? Why do you think colleges are cutting sports programs they previously used to lure HS athletes? Layoffs are more nuanced as COVID could be used as cover to make otherwise problematic personnel decisions, but the vast majority of layoffs in the past six months are due to COVID and the business lost as a result.

A bigger concern is that our nation has had no unified, systemic response to COVID, and as a result states and municipalities have been forced to enact piecemeal responses. This can result in a great deal of uncertainty for businesses, and frankly for the entities regulating these businesses.

As for bringing wine to a restaurant, wI would not be surprised by such a regulation. We can't bring our own bags to the store right now where I live. The general idea that patrons wouldn't be allowed to bring something to the restaurant, which the restaurant staff then handles, is not surprising; if, in fact, such a regulation exists. A restaurant might also choose to implement such a policy. It seems unlikely that a PPE-protected server could acquire or transmit COVID from a bottle brought by a patron, but then I'm not a doctor.

User avatar
Arv R
Posts: 4241
Joined: January 11th, 2015, 3:53 pm

Re: Increased corkage post-COVID?

#266 Post by Arv R » September 7th, 2020, 9:28 am

Chris Seiber wrote:
September 7th, 2020, 12:51 am

Honestly, at this point, 90% of the time a person, business or government tells you something can’t happen because of COVID, that isn’t the actual reason. Everyone just knows it’s the card they can play and most people will feel like you can’t argue with it.

“Sorry we had to lay you off, but it’s because of COVID.”

“Your 8 year old can’t play little league baseball, it’s not safe because of COVID.”

“Sorry, you can’t bring wine to the restaurant anymore, we are trying to stop the spread of COVID.”

“Our university is cutting a bunch of sports, we were forced to do it because of COVID.”

I’m not actually even bothered by restaurants not allowing corkage, at all, but I’m sort of past nodding my head sympathetically every time someone plays the COVID card anymore.
+1

I was at a drive through car wash yesterday and they are reluctant to provide these packaged wet wipes they have always offered because of COVID. One has to push them on that.

My favorite is the hotels boosting resort fees when their have removed pools, suanas, gyms*, basically every amenity that was once proferred as an excuse of that naked cash grab. Oh but hey they still have the valuable online USA Today!

* and yes those should rightly closed as super spreading risks
R_@_0

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”