Retail Wine at a Restaurant

Happy New Year to all! I have a topic I’m researching as part of a potential expansion for our restaurant group:

Questions:

-How many restaurant wine directors/somms offer wine to be purchased at retail price? The setting is a high volume upscale casual restaurant in an urban location, there are no other retail operations in the immediate vicinity and it is not considered a ‘wine bar’ but has a respected wine program locally and regionally.

Formats:

-A guest dined with you this past weekend, they had a wine they loved, and they’d love to purchase several bottles or a case to enjoy at home. We’ve had guests adapt this into ordering other wines they enjoy, typically by the case.

-To-go orders: a guest stops in to pick up their food. Can I buy a bottle of wine as well? Staying at a hotel, etc.

                        -Do you offer discounted pricing for this?

-Private clients. Regulars. The guests who request you by name. They may order cases from you from time to time, jump in on DI minimums for personal collections, etc.

-Wine Dinner Sales.

-Education classes offered for guests. Ticket price equals several flights plus charcuterie, apps, etc. Retail wine for sale after the event.

-Wine Club Memberships. Do you offer a monthly club membership for your guests?

            -What format? i.e. $100/month for 3 bottles, shipped monthly, etc.

-What is budgeted within your pricing model for shipping, packaging, etc.?

-For those that offer wine at retail prices, do you have a physical space in the restaurant dedicated to this? i.e. display case, wine shelf, dedicated menu space to market, etc. If so, what is your pricing structure? i.e. do you offer the same wines listed on your wine list for the same price or a different price? If you offer different selections, do you charge a corking fee to purchase a wine at retail and open it as a guest dining in? For those whose positions require coding and accounting work, is this coded to wine cost or do you code it as a completely separate cost (i.e. retail wine)?

-Is this encouraged by ownership or management?  

In the ever-competitive restaurant market where hitting food cost, effectively managing labor cost, and the impending loom of tariffs, the prospect of exploring additional income streams has piqued my interest. Having a network of guests who appreciate wine seems to be the most profitable with the least risk. A regular would like to order two cases of Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon at $1560 over a cost of $1200 (assuming no case discount and a per bottle price of $65; wholesale cost of $50). We are essentially taking a $1200 investment with a return of 30% to the restaurant. Ideal, because we’re not carrying inventory, which is quite literally money sitting on a shelf, not ideal in a new branch of your business. Granted, if we move into marketing and offering a fully-fledged retail operation, we are now carrying inventory and cost and the 30% return and fast cash operation has now become a business with expenses, trivialities, and challenges. I suppose to summarize in one (two-parted) question: is this a trend we’ll see more of in the future and whose operating something like it now?

Thank you very much in advance for any and all feedback, responses, further discussion, and thoughts. À votre santé!

Tristan Walczewski