Most wine lovers enjoy restaurant dining, but few are fans of restaurant wine prices and selections. Many restaurants have very limited wine lists, and almost all mark up their wines by percentages well into the hundreds. Some Philadelphia-area restaurants have the solution to both of these problems – they allow patrons to bring their own wine. Reportedly, more than two hundred Philly eateries have a BYOB policy that lets diners supply their own wine. Apparently, in most cases there is no corkage fees. (In most areas, a patron who brings a bottle of wine must pay a corkage fee. Theoretically, this is for the effort of opening the bottle and serving the wine; most restaurants that charge the fee would admit that it is also compensating them for the margin they would have earned had the customer purchased a bottle of wine there.)
This information comes from Brown-Bagging Is Chic at Philadelphia’s 200+ Bring-Your-Own-Bottle Restaurants, a press release from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC).
In recent years, the BYOB scene has gone beyond mom-and-pop joints to include haute international bistros, funky casual spots and authentic ethnic eateries. And these days, patrons are toting more than just bottles of wine; they’re bringing tequila, vodka or whatever other spirit they prefer. The prevalence of BYOBs is so great in the region that the Zagat Survey of Philadelphia restaurants is one of the only such city guides to contain a separate listing for “BYO.”
I don’t know many wine lovers who wouldn’t be happy to bring a bottle or two from their cellar to enjoy with dinner, and apparently the competition from BYOB restaurants is forcing other establishments to relax their bottle policies. Even restaurants with liquor licenses are starting to designate specific BYOB days for patrons who want to bring their own wine or other beverage.
If you are headed for Philadelphia, check out the BYOB Restaurant Map to find an establishment with policies friendly to the wine aficionado and casual wine drinker alike. (I wonder what the Philly restaurants with traditional alcohol policies think about this promotion by their tourism agency… for better dining establishments, alcohol sales usually yield a significant part of their profit margin.)
This is one trend I’d like to see spread across the nation.