There is a front page article in the Wall St Journal this morning on corkage entitled “Tasting Menus Inspire DIYers to BYOB.” Is anyone seeing a trend of increased corkage in their market?
Corkage, sadly, is still not allowed in Colorado so no increases here!
Over the last few years I have seen an actual general decrease in corkage fees, but Southeast Michigan is still a quixotic market.
I work for a 500 cover a night restaurant in DTLA with a very extensive wine list and I would say in the past year, I've seen an increase. On a Friday or Saturday night, we see about 15 bottles a night. Last year we would see usually around 5-10 per weekend night.
First six months of 2019 0.19% of sales, last six 0.13%. We don't charge corkage when the guests share wine with us, so it might just mean we are improving guests relationships.
My restaurant does 400-500 covers per day, and I've definitely seen an increase in people bringing their own wine. We charge $20 for corkage, too, which is high for the area (Orlando, FL).
Working here in Corkage County, Ca. or (Orange County). Corkage is a plague here, but it has been for years. On any given night, about 60-70% of wine on tables is corkage. Corkage is 25 dollars per bottle. Which is competitive for our area. We had tried many different ways to remedy this situation but it seems as though nothing really has an effect. Many restaurants in our area have an even lower or no corkage fee at all. So even with a great selection of bottles that are very unique, delicious and around 40 dollars on the list, guests seem to prefer to bring in a 25 dollar bottle from the grocery store and then pay 25 dollars to have it opened. Seems like a perceived value situation. It would appear that another big part of the issue, for us anyways is the high percentage of our guests that are members of multiple winery mailing lists with wines automatically shipped to them on a regular basis. Once they've ended up with more wine than they could ever drink, there isnt a lot of motivation to come in and pay 300 dollars for a bottle of wine on a wine list. Especially when they have 500+++ bottles at home that they can just grab have the their dinner wine expense capped out at 25-50 bucks. Complicated issue. We have been working to find a solution for years and not much in the way of a breakthrough yet. I would love to hear anyone's thoughts who is in a similar market,
This is a bit of a dilemma...depending on which point of view you're coming from. On one hand, it's fun to introduce people to new wines and answer questions about regions, varietals, producers, vintages, etc. And, of course, it may well result in gaining some regular customers. On the other hand, were I a restaurant owner I would very much prefer that customers brought in their own wine and let me charge them $25 corkage on their $50 bottle. This $25 equates to almost a 100% profit margin. The only associated costs are the time it takes the somm to open the bottle and pour and the cost of cleaning the glass; whereas, purchasing wine, managing inventory, cellaring it, transporting it, etc., etc., is extremely expensive. Additionally, you can never be sure how long you're going to have to hold this wine in your inventory, so the time value of money has to be taken into consideration as well. Even at a 100%-plus mark up from retail, the % margin on a bottle sold in your restaurant will never approach that associated with corkage. I realize this doesn't solve your "problem", but perhaps it gives you some things to consider in trying to come up with a solution. Best of luck!
If you average bottle sells for $40-60, sure, corkage is basically free money, but if you're aiming to sell bottles that are $100+, a great margin doesn't replace higher total profit.
I've seen restaurants charge more if you bring in a bottle on their list. I personally take in a bottle if it's a special bottle or something i've been wanting to drink. I always share though as well. It's super common in UT. We also pay about double what everyone else does for wine though. People that bring in a $15-20 bottle just to pay that in corkage I will never understand.