BYO-W? A new program launched by the B.C. government now allows you to bring your own bottle of wine when you dine at participating restaurants across the province.
The program, which is completely voluntary, hopes to encourage people to eat out by granting them the flexibility of pairing “their favourite wine with their favourite restaurant,” said Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for liquor control and licensing.
It will be up to the restaurant if they want to charge a corkage fee and restaurants are still liable if customers are over-served or if liquor service is provided to minors.
In Vancouver, people were toasting the new program on Thursday, excited for a chance to enjoy a glass of their own at a much lower cost.
“I brought back a bottle of wine from the South of France and it cost me 30 Euros. I found a comparable bottle of wine in a restaurant for $180,” said 31-year-old Nick Medhurst. “I find myself enjoying wine at home with friends, so it’d be nice to be able to bring it out and enjoy in a restaurant.”
Eboney Chipman, 30, agreed. “I love it … especially in downtown, where everything is so overpriced,” she said. “But I think a lot of the restaurants are going to say, ‘Hell, no.’”
Some restaurant managers in Yaletown expressed shock, telling Metro that wine sales were the “bread and butter” of most upscale restaurant operations.
Salli Pateman, owner of Section (3) restaurant on Mainland Street said she couldn’t see how adopting the program would have a positive impact on her business.
“Our margins are already squeezed in every possible way,” she said. “With credit card and debit fees, raising the minimum wage, and rising property tax, everyday it seems we are experiencing a chop to the bottom line.”
Pateman, who serves 17 different kinds of wine, said most restaurants would probably have to charge exorbitant corkage fees if they wanted to participate in the ‘Bring your own wine’ program.
“But I can’t see us charging $24 for a bottle of wine that someone bought for $20. It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Another manager at a nearby chain restaurant, who didn’t want to be identified, tried to keep an open mind.
“B.C. liquor laws are super antiquated and it’s about time we have a bit of progress,” he said. “There are other costs associated with buying and storing inventory, so maybe there can be some savings on a lot of levels.”
Coleman emphasized that restaurants can decide whether or not they want to participate. “This allows customers some choice and restauranteurs some choice. We have implemented a regulation to allow it to happen.”