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Corkage fees


markk
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I'm already afraid that I can't explain this right, but I'm going to try. It really isn't about getting something for free from a restaurant, but rather about restaurant philosophy as it pertains to creating goodwill with regular customers.

So with the understanding that I'm probably going to bungle this, here's what we were thinking...

There's a restaurant that we go to regularly on vacation. It's a small, local French bistro, and it's never anything like crowded. It's got about 32 seats, and frequently we'll be the only table dining (two peope), and I've never seen it more than a third full.

We like the food, which is why we'll go three or four nights on a week when we're in town. Their wine list is just horrible, though. It's got 12 selections, 6 red and 6 white, and it's as bad as one that you might find at a mediocre chain restaurant. (They're not serving Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio, but they are serving French equivalents.) Certainly nothing that would be enjoyable to drink. So we bring our own, and pay the $15 corkage fee.

And we eat up a storm. We always have multi-course dinners, and always their most expensive, daily-special items. (The restaurant's not exactly cheap.) We have noted with curiosity that a lot of people come in, have an inexpensive main course and split a dessert, and leave, while we're running tabs that are easily three times that for the same number of people, two. (We only notice this because people are in and out while we're still in the middle of our meal.)

And we always move onto a second bottle of wine, which we never come close to finishing.

(Wine glasses are not a factor here; they have basic, non-crystal one-size-fits-all glasses, and you stick with your glass all night.)

It always strikes me as strange that they charge a second corkage fee. It's really not because I want something for free, I promise, just that maybe I'm used to restaurants who in some way or other do something thoughtful for their regular guests. What makes me think of this is that I surely understand why a restaurant would charge a corkage fee- there's a profit on a bottle of wine that they don't make if you don't order wine from them. I'm all in favor of that.

But I usually think, and see that the average table, if they order wine at all, don't drink a second bottle. And just from the many gracious things I've seen restaurants do, I'm wondering why, once you've made your corkage fee on the first bottle in a local, simple place, why you wouldn't think to waive the second fee on a table of people who always come when they're in town - when you see that they've opened the second bottle just to have a glass of wine with dessert. (When they go to pour it after that, we stop them since we don't want more, and they know from clearing our tables that there's alsays more left in the second bottle than we drank.)

Again, it's not that I want something for free. And if in any way we wanted to save a second corkage fee, we'd make one bottle last the whole meal, which we have no interest in doing. It just strikes me as a hospitality oddity each time it happens.

And now, with great trepidation, I ask: any thoughts on this?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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As you described the situation, I think it would be nice and good business just to waive the second fee, but certainly not something that they are obligated to do.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Before responding to this particular issue, here's a thread devoted to the topic of corkage in general. The first post in the thread also links to a six-page thread on the topic. Wine 101: BYO and Corkage

My first question is what kind of relationship have you established with the restaurant staff and management? Do they know you always visit multiple time when in town? Do they know how much you like their place? Or are you just two other customers?

What kind of wines are you bringing? Are they priced similarly to the ones on the list? Typically, people will receive less policy-stringent corkage treatment when they are bringing in expensive bottles, older bottles, or rare bottles. I believe you when you say you are bringing in wine not to be cheap, but because you disdain the restaurant's selection. But the staff may look at the bottles you bring and come to a different conclusion. By the way, I'm not making an accusation here.

Do you call ahead and ask to bring your own or just show up with it?

Do you offer to share your wine and do you send the bottle back to the kitchen with some wine remaining in it? I should quickly add this doesn't guarantee you anything. A sip is not a tip. But I do it as a way of saying thank you for letting me bring my own wine.

Recently I went to dinner with my staff (six of us total) to celebrate the holidays. I stopped by in person ahead of time to inquire about BYO and corkage. I was told it was $15 a bottle. My response was "Thank you, I'm happy to pay it." I brought four bottles -- none of them close to what the restaurant had on its list. One of them was a 1995 Pichon Lalande. I was bringing them because my staff wanted to learn something about wine. We only drank half of each bottle, and I sent the remainder to the kitchen. The dining room manager came over and said, "I've waived the corkage fee. I can't justify charging you when you gave us that much wine. We will enjoy it when we close tonight." "Are you sure?" I asked. "Yes, thank you," was the reply. And then I was very grateful to him for making the exception.

It's all on how you handle it, I guess. Even so, some places will stick by their policy no matter what, customer relationship and loyalty building be damned.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I think he mentioned it was $15 corkage per bottle.

Yes, it would be a gracious gesture but were I in your shoes, I wouldn't necessarily expect it. They have a policy; they're opening two bottles for you, therefore there is the additional charge. Yes, a gracious hospitality gesture would suggest waving it, but I wouldn't expect it or feel slighted if charged the second fee...it is as agreed upon.

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My first question is what kind of relationship have you established with the restaurant staff and management?  Do they know you always visit multiple time when in town?  Do they know how much you like their place?  Or are you just two other customers?

What kind of wines are you bringing?  Are they priced similarly to the ones on the list?

Do you call ahead and ask to bring your own or just show up with it?...

It's all on how you handle it, I guess.  Even so, some places will stick by their policy no matter what, customer relationship and loyalty building be damned.

This is such a tiny place that some of your questions regarding the "staff" don't apply, because the owner waits the tables, and there are two people visible in the kitchen you see through a large pass when you go down the hallway to the bathrooms, and that appears to be it.

The owner very definitely knows that we're from out of town, how long we're there for (usually a week at a time), and how many times we come in a particular week/year. (She's the only one serving customers.) And she knows that we've traveled extensively in France, and come to her place because we like the food.

Do I just show up with wines? No. As I do before going to any new restaurant whose menu and wine list aren't on line, I stopped by in advance of the first time to check out both. The wine list was one of those that seems to have been chosen for them by a wine rep, you know, there'll be a generic "Cotes du Rhone", a "Macon Villages", no wines chosen for how they'll taste with the food, just 6 obligatory reds and 6 obligatory whites. So after looking at the list, I asked if they had a corkage fee, and she replied that it was $15, which is perfectly fine with me.

Do I bring wines that are better drinking than are on the list? (I don't think you specifically asked this, btw.) Yes, most definitely. Are they more expensive bottles than they sell? No, and they don't actually have to be, considering how ill-chosen theirs are (well, this will make sense to you, Brad, and probably to most people these days).

Do I share? Indeed, I insist on it. I don't want to come right out and say "Lord, your wine list is terrible!", but I do want her to taste what better wines taste like (the surprise these days being that they can even be moderately priced). But I've even brought wines that are definitely cheaper (and better drinking) than their "Macon Villages". And though I don't do it for the expectation of anything in return, I always suggest (I stopped after the first dozen times because I figured by that point she knew I meant it) that either she and/or the kitchen people enjoy the remaining wine, which I leave because I don't want to drive with an opened bottle in the car.

And of course, it's not the corkage fee that I'm questioning. I love corkage fees and the opportunities it opens in many situations.

To get back to your questions: It's more than clear to her that we come a lot because we enjoy their food but can't drink their wines. I guess the part that just strikes me as strange each time is that it's the owner who sees that we've opened a second bottle just to have a glass with dessert, and puts the second charge on. Technically she's totally in the right, and my original post was not a complaint.

(I also definitely do not equate sharing wine with a restaurant to negate a corkage fee. I wouldn't expect a restauant to waive a charge because I shared wine with them. Unrelated, I've been in lots of situations in restaurants I frequent where the restaurant has a corkage fee and I've ordered a bottle of their white to start, and brought my own red from my cellar to drink with their food, and they don't charge a the corkage - why in that case I don't know, but it happens. It's not something that I expect if I know they have a corkage fee, either.)

As I say, this restaurant owner is in the right to charge her stated corkage fee, and I wasn't complaining. I was just saying that it strikes me as odd under the circumstances for her to charge the second one (they're hand-written bills, by the way, which I haven't seen in years) when the we're only opening it to have a glass of it. Even if I took the wine home, I'd still find it odd under the circumstances.

You caught the gist of my sentiment exactly:

It's all on how you handle it, I guess.  Even so, some places will stick by their policy no matter what, customer relationship and loyalty building be damned.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Yes, it would be a gracious gesture but were I in your shoes, I wouldn't necessarily expect it.

And indeed I don't expect it (a gracious gesture). I go back anyway knowing we'll pay a second corkage fee for the last two glasses of wine, and the more times we go in week, and the more regular we become ( :wacko: ), the odder I find it.

Edited to add: I think you've hit the nail on the head and found why I find it odd. Over the years, I've come to associate French dining, specifically bistro dining, with gracious gestures, and warm hospitality. And there's none of that in this place, ever.

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I don't know about New Jersey, but my understanding is that, at least in New York, it's illegal for a restaurant to permit you to open a bottle of wine WITHOUT a corkage fee. Now obviously that law isn't universally observed by restaurants, and the authorities never enforce it against them. But you and I have already disagreed about laws that restaurants regularly fail to follow and that are never enforced against them.

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I don't know about New Jersey, but my understanding is that, at least in New York, it's illegal for a restaurant to permit you to open a bottle of wine WITHOUT a corkage fee. 

The restaurant's in Florida, and I don't know what the law is there, nor can I find it on-line, so I'll call the Florida ABT offices on Monday. If the law says that they must charge the fee for each bottle opened, that would certainly change my thoughts on the matter.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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You know what? I checked, and I was wrong. What New York law prohibits is non-licensed establishments from letting people bring their own wine in (a law that is almost UNIVERSALLY ignored by "fine dining" establishments awaiting licenses -- they wouldn't be able to stay in business otherwise).

Interestingly, the current law is a fairly recent modification. As recently as the 80s, New York law prohibited restaurants from allowing customers to bring in their own wine, period -- license or no, corkage fee or no. That is another law that was frequently disregarded, until it was finally changed.

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I don't know, if the owner is waiting tables, y'all are the only diners sometimes, never seen the place more than 2/3 full, dude, they need all the corkage fees they can get.

That's very true.

Somehow I think that by going there as often as we do when we're in town, and by ordering such elaborate meals, and by tipping very generously, we're certainly showing our support of her.

It's just that, from a "gracious" point of view, as DutchMuse called it, it strikes me as oddly not (gracious). And now that we think about it, there are no gracious touches in this place, which is odd for a French restaurant.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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markk,

Well, it appears as if you've done all you can. The restaurant has chosen to apply their policy without discrimination or favoritism. And it appears as if you're going to keep going back anyway. It's probably not worth showing up next time without any wine, ordering an appetizer, splitting a dessert, and drinking water just to see what kind of reaciton you get (tempting as that may be to some).

But, as has been mentioned several times already, the restaurant is under no obligation to waive the corkage fee.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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markk,

Well, it appears as if you've done all you can.  The restaurant has chosen to apply their policy without discrimination or favoritism.  And it appears as if you're going to keep going back anyway. 

Well, I was just curious what people thought of the situation. I didn't want to do anything about it. The Restaurateur's "art" always fascinates me, including why some restaurants will flourish and others nearby with equally good food will die.

As it turns out, we've pretty much stopped going there, but entirely because we've found other places whose food we enjoy more. It has nothing to do with the second corkage fee.

And it has nothing specifically to do with another story that I had completely forgotten until today; we dined there one night and were told that the special that day was Sea Bass, which we've had there before and loved very much. When it came this time, it actually was "Chilean" Sea Bass, which we don't like. We noticed it as we were eating it, and as we didn't enjoy it, we basically just picked at it. As I say, we order so many courses (frequently three appetizers to share amoung the two of us) that we were pretty full, and decided not to send them back and wait for something else at that point. But when she cleared the plates and saw that we hadn't eaten much of it, she asked if we didn't like it, and we said that, in fact, no, it was actually "Chilean" Sea Bass, which we don't like. Her reply was, "Yes, I didn't make that clear" and made no attempt to remedy the situation in any way, and charged ($36 dollars each) for them. Of course, we chose not to send them back or make an issue of it, but again I think a restaurant should be somewhat gracious about regular customers not eating their food because they don't like it, and we thought her attitude over the wrongly described food was pretty cavalier under the circumstances. Exactly what she should have done, I can't say, but leaving it as she did didn't exactly create a winning feeling either.

But I can't say that that's specifically how she lost us either. When we're on vacation, we always try some new (to us) restaurants in the mix, and have recently found some that we enjoy a lot more, so for our last two trips, she lost us as customers by attrition. Her lack of a "gracious" attitude didn't actually drive us away, but when we found newer places that were more enjoyable all around, when it came time to choose a restaurant for dinner each night, her place just never came up. That's life, I guess. I think you called it right earlier.

It's all on how you handle it, I guess.  Even so, some places will stick by their policy no matter what, customer relationship and loyalty building be damned.

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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markk,

Well, it appears as if you've done all you can.  The restaurant has chosen to apply their policy without discrimination or favoritism.  And it appears as if you're going to keep going back anyway. 

Well, I was just curious what people thought of the situation. I didn't want to do anything about it. The Restaurateur's "art" always fascinates me, including why some restaurants will flourish and others nearby with equally good food will die.

As it turns out, we've pretty much stopped going there, but entirely because we've found other places whose food we enjoy more. It has nothing to do with the second corkage fee.

And it has nothing specifically to do with another story that I had completely forgotten until today; we dined there one night and were told that the special that day was Sea Bass, which we've had there before and loved very much. When it came this time, it actually was "Chilean" Sea Bass, which we don't like. We noticed it as we were eating it, and as we didn't enjoy it, we basically just picked at it. As I say, we order so many courses (frequently three appetizers to share amoung the two of us) that we were pretty full, and decided not to send them back and wait for something else at that point. But when she cleared the plates and saw that we hadn't eaten much of it, she asked if we didn't like it, and we said that, in fact, no, it was actually "Chilean" Sea Bass, which we don't like. Her reply was, "Yes, I didn't make that clear" and made no attempt to remedy the situation in any way, and charged ($36 dollars each) for them. Of course, we chose not to send them back or make an issue of it, but again I think a restaurant should be somewhat gracious about regular customers not eating their food because they don't like it, and we thought her attitude over the wrongly described food was pretty cavalier under the circumstances. Exactly what she should have done, I can't say, but leaving it as she did didn't exactly create a winning feeling either.

But I can't say that that's specifically how she lost us either. When we're on vacation, we always try some new (to us) restaurants in the mix, and have recently found some that we enjoy a lot more, so for our last two trips, she lost us as customers by attrition. Her lack of a "gracious" attitude didn't actually drive us away, but when we found newer places that were more enjoyable all around, when it came time to choose a restaurant for dinner each night, her place just never came up. That's life, I guess. I think you called it right earlier.

It's all on how you handle it, I guess.  Even so, some places will stick by their policy no matter what, customer relationship and loyalty building be damned.

They really didn't do anything to instill any sense of loyalty either. Maybe that is why they were always so empty. Interesting story and question.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...

i manage a wine themed resto in nyc. we have a great winelist and over 60 wines by the glass.

at a timeof escalating operating costs in our industry in nyc, wecant depriveourselves from our main source of revenue, alcoholicbeverages, so if you bring a bottle of wine to dinner we will charge you 80 dollars. bringing a bottle into a restaurant is a bit like asking a mechanic if you can borrow his tools for free to fixyour car yourself...

i can make exceptions for someone who brings a bottle of lafite 1982 because that's his son's birthyear and they are celebrating his gradaution from harvard law school and he promised to buy at least onebottle of same value. i'll be a gentleman with those who are, for the cheap ny diners who try to save a buck there is corkage fee.

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That, in absolutely in no way whatsoever, addressed the question I posed about the partially consumed second bottle, which had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with "cheap ny diners" as you call them, nor did it have anything to do with New York. Nor was the restaurant in question a "wine themed" restaurant - it was exactly the opposite.

And, nobody is questioning corkage fees.

What's with the obnoxious attitude then?

Is $80 your profit on your average bottle of wine? If not, why would you set a corkage fee higher than the profit you'd make on a bottle of wine that you sell? Is that an emotional decision based on your hatred for customers rather than an economic one? It sure seems like it.

Maybe the moral of the story is that restaurants who view customers as adversaries go out of business. (I certainly hope so.)

As far as bringing a bottle of wine to a "wine themed" restaurant, I would never think to do it myself.

But as far as your "great" winelist, you mean to say 'in your opinion'. If it's filled with Australian Cabernets and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the like, you may be delusional when you declare it "great". Likewise, if it's made up of bottles whose markup is $80, it's not a "great" wine list- it's an attempt to gouge customers. It's all in the perspective of the person commenting, non?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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What's with the obnoxious attitude then?

Is $80 your profit on your average bottle of wine?  If not, why would you set a corkage fee higher than the profit you'd make on a bottle of wine that you sell?  Is that an emotional decision based on your hatred for customers rather than an economic one?  It sure seems like it.

Maybe the moral of the story is that restaurants who view customers as adversaries go out of business.  (I certainly hope so.)

As far as bringing a bottle of wine to a "wine themed" restaurant, I would never think to do it myself.

But as far as your "great" winelist, you mean to say 'in your opinion'.  If it's filled with Australian Cabernets and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the like, you may be delusional when you declare it "great".  Likewise, if it's made up of bottles whose markup is $80, it's not a "great" wine list- it's an attempt to gouge customers.  It's all in the perspective of the person commenting, non?

So you're insulting his restaurant's wine list when you don't even know what restaurant he works for, and he's the one with the obnoxious attitude? When you post on a forum titled 'Restaurant Life,' you should be prepared for folks who work in the industry to let their hair down a little.

Restaurants don't have to allow you to bring your own wine. In fact, they don't *have* to do anything. I mean, the movie theater doesn't let you bring your own snacks, and they crazily mark up the Junior Mints and what have you. They don't 'hate customers,' they're running a business! So your choices are: subscribe to Netflix, bring your own trail mix and risk being chastised by the usher, go hungry, or buy the overpriced Junior Mints. But the movie theater's policy should not be taken as a personal affront to your humanity, you know?

"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

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"Again, it's not that I want something for free."

That IS the point. You DO want something for free. You want to be able to open YOUR $10 bottle of wine instead of THEIRS! And the fact that it gets so under your skin is not THEIR fault, but YOURS. If it bugs you so much, you should probably just eat elsewhere.

And by the way, every 'regular' thinks they're the only ones keeping the place in business. Maybe because it's seasonal, there are lots of people there when you are not visitng for your three days.

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"Again, it's not that I want something for free." 

That IS the point.  You DO want something for free.  You want to be able to open YOUR $10 bottle of wine instead of THEIRS! And the fact that it gets so under your skin is not THEIR fault, but YOURS.  If it bugs you so much, you should probably just eat elsewhere.

And by the way, every 'regular' thinks they're the only ones keeping the place in business.  Maybe because it's seasonal, there are lots of people there when you are not visitng for your three days.

I'm pretty sure that if you read the original message, it's not at all about getting anything for free, but rather a pretty interesting question about what to do when a regular customer opens a second bottle of his wine to have one glass of it, and before froggio's irrelevant message, it was nicely answered in the discussion.

And yes, I think that bragging about an $80 corkage fee in a discussion that wasn't about that, is definitely obnoxious. Of course restaurants don't have to let you bring wine. Many do because they believe in accommodating their customers, who in return, are happy to pay for the privilege. It's not about depriving the restaurant their income stream, it's about drinking a wine that you enjoy with your dinner. As far as whether his wine list is "great", it may only be great in his eyes. As far as whether it's fairly priced, if the markup on a bottle is the same $80 as the corkage fee, then I don't think it's a great (customer-friendly) list.

Edited to say: yes, sure, I answered him in the same obnoxious tone with which he bragged about his corkage fee, which I thought it was way out of line for such a nice thread as this.

Also, it's too bad that the only "general" restaurant thread that's not locale-specific is this one called "restaurant life" - I think that's a flaw, and that you're right that it implies a trade-only participation. Is there a general "restaurant" board for non-trade John Q. Publix?

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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'I'm pretty sure that if you read the original message, it's not at all about getting anything for free'

No problem. That may not be your intention. But I read the original message. It was that message to which I was replying. Look, it's perfectly OK to want something for free. Even to ask for it. Really. But it is disingenuous to blame the restaurant when you don't get it.

Edited by Miami Danny (log)
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'I'm pretty sure that if you read the original message, it's not at all about getting anything for free'

No problem.  That may not be your intention.  But I read the original message.  It was that message to which I was replying.  Look, it's perfectly OK to want something for free.  Even to ask for it.  Really.  But it is disingenuous to blame the restaurant when you don't get it.

I didn't want anything for free. And I didn't blame the restaurant for anything. I have a plenty big mouth; if I wanted to question the second corkage fee, I would have spoken up. And if I objected to it, I wouldn't have kept going back and opening more second bottles of wine. What I wanted was various people's opinions on the somewhat unique nature of the situation, and I got them.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Interesting story.

One thing stands out to me. Why did you not engage the owner and let her know that her wine list was lacking.

People often seem to agonize over things and even seek support on line rather than talk to the establishment's owner or management, something that has a possibility of actually remedying the situation.

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