Special Meals With Free Corkage
Corkage and pricing is creating new ideas and the creative process are mixing it up in 2016. Have you considered a new wine promotion for your dining patrons? If you are hoping to attract guests at slow times, win the favor of wine aficionados, or both, then pay attention all you restaurant operators. Full speed ahead: Variations on the theme of bring-your-own-bottle complimentary corkage promotions is an easy way to jump start this process with high profits.
Healthy trendy delicious fresh food, prepared perfectly and paired with a fantastic wine selection - what a great way to begin the year. Whether you offer the wine or encourage BYOW, very little is needed to make each patron feel they are being catered to when they come and dine. Consider the Beaujolais Nouveau.
Beaujolais Nouveau – that much-ballyhooed cherry-red colored vintage that’s best served chilled -- is clearly not for wine snobs. This fresh and fruity red is the result of a quick fermentation process that ends up with a tasty, clean wine that is enjoyed by palates the world over. Why not celebrate your own Nouveau Day. It doesn't have to be in November. Simply stick to the criteria and serve the best for your patrons.
Corkage, the fee restaurants add to the check for opening and serving a bottle of wine that a guest brings into the restaurant, is intended to cover not only the immediate service, but also some of the collateral costs of a wine program. That can include buying, washing and polishing stemware and cellaring wines in temperature-controlled conditions for years.
Many restaurants charge between $15 and $30 per bottle for corkage, but depending on the scale of the restaurant and the wine program, it can be much higher. Operators have long used corkage-free nights to create interest at slack business times and break up the routine for both customers and servers. You may want to do the same. Remember that Main Auction Services has superior options for smalls, stemware, wine storage, and the like to help spark new interest for 2016.
“We tend to be quite a lot busier on the nights when we have free corkage,” said Shannon Fristoe, general manager and sommelier of Bayona, a fine dining restaurant in New Orleans. There, an annual corkage-free event called Let Them Drink Wine occurs in mid-July for a few days around Bastille Day. Not coincidentally, summer is very slow for dining in the Big Easy, Fristoe noted. Adopting your own days that focus on your theme, calendar theme, or other special patron ambiance of the evening means you are in full creative mode. The total dining experience is the absolute goal for any restaurant. Why not be the first in your area to consider this as an option.
Similarly, drumming up business is the rationale for Corks Fly Free, a summer-long promotion at San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Its restaurants coast to coast, where permitted by law, are pouring patrons’ bottles for free through September 6. Adopting regular free corkage patterns, paired with very special menus means reservations could be booked far in advance. Valentines Day, Anniversary Days, and Weddings are all options, but why not adopt regular themes especially for your locale.
“Some people see corkage as a way to save money on the restaurant’s wine markup,” said Emily Wines, Kimpton’s master sommelier and director of wines. “But others view it as an opportunity to have a great meal with a special bottle they have been saving.” In this scenario, the restaurant provides impeccable wine service that contributes to an unforgettable guest experience. “We are there to provide that service and create a meal that is memorable to match that wine,” Wines said. “That’s what makes my job fun.”
At Vie, a contemporary American cuisine restaurant in Western Springs, Ill., there is never a corkage fee on a bottle of wine brought in that is at least ten years of age. On Tuesday nights, parties of six or fewer guests enjoy free corkage. Why not adopt something akin to a different option for each quarter at your place. The ten year old bottle might encourage the patron to bring his own from their cellar and enjoy it with a good meal making it very special indeed.
Here in North America, Wine professionals have agreed that the customer-relations and traffic-building benefits of BYOW and corkage-free promos are worth the occasional instances when patrons brought in low-end wines to avoid the markup on a bottle purchase. Great California wines are always special, and old Bordeaus, old Burgundies and older California wines can always be encouraged and is generous to every wine loving customer you have at any price point.
When people who bring in their own fine wines, they are usually very eager to share them with the chef-owner and their server and can be used to help in the education process of the owner, servers, and patrons alike. Perhaps even clientele might influence future promotions with this knowledge. Special dinners, tastings, and sommelier tips can always be helpful. The complete dining experience is will always be one where the patron enjoys participation with food, wine, or dessert. They will always return for more of the same.
Call us here at Texas Restaurant Supply, together we can find options to expand for the future…
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