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Some Help Needed Understanding LCB Laws & Catering Establishments


Natasha
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My daughter is getting married this July at The Mendenhall Inn in Chadds Ford. Like a lot of these establishments, the house wine for a wedding is something pretty undrinkable so we had been planning on upgrading the wine. After submitting several different names and being told they could not get them through the special order program of the LCB, we got a list from the Mendenhall of wines they could obtain. We knew there would be a hefty mark-up so we weren't trying to get too fancy, just something drinkable, and to that end, we asked for pricing on about 6 different bottles. For example, the Gabbiano Chianti that sells for $11.99 at the State Store was one of our selections. The price that I received on that bottle today from the Mendenhall was $44.50 per bottle. I asked if this was the best they could do, and I was told that it was. Earlier in the process, I asked about supplying the wine ourselves, and I was told that it is against the law for them to allow us to do that. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that we're screwed as far as the wine goes, but I thought I'd ask you knowledgeable folks if this is indeed a reasonable mark-up, and if you were in my place, what would you do?

Thanks!

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typical wine mark up is three times wholsale and two times retail. However, in PA the difference between the price the licencee pays and retail is not very much. So, I think 44.50 on a 12 buck bottle may be a bit much.

As to the law. It is extremly convuluted and I have been out of the business for a good while now. I do not think it is illegal for them to allow you to supply the wine. Our concern always was that the license holder is responsible for any alcohol served. Also, they can't co-mingle yours and theirs.

Clearly they are in the business to make money and they will make more if you biuy it from them.

Tell them you will give them 37 bucks or something like that for it and see what they say.

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I ran into the same thing planning my wedding at the Downtown Club in Philly four years ago- but with beer. I wanted to add Guinness to their anemic selection to please my Irish family. Downtown Club wanted to charge me $250 per case (which goes for around $45 retail).

We said no thanks and chose Yards ESA instead, which they still marked up to $150 a case (from $30 retail). We bit the bullet on a few cases to have some great beer available.

BROG, a beer blog
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Yikes, $250 a case for Guinness! My husband thinks that it isn't worth an extra $1,500 to $2,000 to serve wine that isn't really very good anyway. I'm torn about it. We are going to explore the beer next. Thanks for the feedback.

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natasha, i feel your pain. i have organized quite a few events in the pa and delaware area and have run into this problem often.

unless you are deadset on the mendenhall inn i would suggest looking into a venue in delaware (i can suggest a couple) or bistro on the b'wine or b'wine prime. the latter two are much more wine friendly. bistro will let you bring your own wine to your event.

the mark up on crappy wine that caterers or food service companies charge at most venues for these types of events is ridiculous.

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Guess what? I took Mike's suggestion, and asked if they couldn't make a healthy profit if they marked the bottles up three times vs the four times they were asking. At first, I was told that they were sorry but this was the best they could do. Then, lo and behold, today I got an e-mail offering new pricing, and the Gabbiano will be $22.99 plus a 20% handling fee per bottle (they were adding that to the higher price too.) I'm very happy as I opened the e-mail just as my husband got done telling me that we had to pay to upgrade no matter the price as he just couldn't serve Corbett Canyon. I guess it's true that it never hurts to ask. Thanks for the help.

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