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Corkage fees


markk
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Although I'm somewhat hesitant to rekindle this discussion, it occurs to me that eGullet has been recognized as a significant resource in the food and dining world, and will someday probably occupy an imporant historical place in it, and I wanted to correct an erroneous, categorigal statement that was posted earlier in the thread, namely:

"A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list."

Let history note that this statement is untrue.  The wine corkage fee exists (when it is offered) to allow customers to bring any wine that they choose to bring.  (Many restaurants stipulate that you may not bring a wine that's on their list, though others allow it but offer a lesser fee if you bring a wine that is not.  And of course some don't offer one at all.)

However, any other interpretation of a 'corkage fee' is simply personal conjecture.

I'll say it again, "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list." That is why they exist, and any other 'use' of the corkage fee by the customer, is incorrect. If you are bringing a bottle of Yellow Tail, or something on the restaurant's list, and they let you pour it, they are being VERY accomodating. ('Excuse me, can I have a bottle of what they are drinking? What, you mean they don't like what I drink here every week? Hmmmmm.) A corkage fee is completely defined by the person/business owner who is charging it. Not the customer. History will show that that is the longstanding custom in this country. IAs for beer? That only works for Hollywood Celebs, babe.

i don't really follow your examples as they seem to contradict each other. regardless, i am of the opinion that corkage is offered at restaurants for a variety of reasons, one of which being that you don't like what is on the list. if you haven't reviewed it already, some points on corkage are discussed here.

upon re-reading, i'm thinking there's a communication issue here stemming from word choice. no one has suggested that one would bring a bottle of Yellow Tail, or, a wine that already exists on the list.

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Curious to test the validity of the statement, "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list" I called 21 leading restaurants in Miami, culled from the "top/most popular/best" 20 according to several online sources (Zagat, Miami New Times, CitySearch, AOL/Digital City). The list follows.

I asked each one “Do you have a corkage fee?”, and when the answer was “yes”, I asked “are there any conditions, restrictions, or limitations on what I may bring?”

Three restaurants replied that they have no corkage fee, and bringing wine to the restaurant is not permitted:

Barton G

The Forge

Azul

Two of the 21 said that the only condition was that the wine you bring may not be on their list (Prime 112, Capital Grille).

The other 19 said that you may bring any wine that you like upon payment of the corkage fee, with no restrictions or conditions:

Pacific Time

Chef Allen

Michy’s

North 110

Mark’s South Beach

Osteria del Teatro

Oritanique

Hannah’s Gourmet Diner

Tantra

Escopazzo

Social

A Fish Called Avalon

The Palm (Coral Gables)

The Palm (Miami Beach)

Timo

Vix

That’s pretty-much an exhaustive list of the top and most popular restaurants in Miami. 18 of them have a corkage fee, and with the sole condition that two of them impose about not bringing a wine already on their list, no restaurant imposes any other conditions or restrictions on the bottles you may bring.

The statement "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list." is false. It is a figment of the imagination. Restating it over and over again doesn't make it valid. It is not based on reality or fact, and cannot be substantiated or documented. What has been substantiated and documented is that when you pay the corkage fee, you may bring whatever wine you like, for whatever reason.

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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Curious to test the validity of the statement, "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list"  I called 21 leading restaurants in Miami, culled from the "top/most popular/best" 20 according to several online sources (Zagat, Miami New Times, CitySearch, AOL/Digital City).  The list follows.

I asked each one “Do  you have a corkage fee?”, and when the answer was “yes”, I asked  “are there any conditions, restrictions, or limitations on what I may bring?”

Three restaurants replied that they have no corkage fee, and bringing wine to the restaurant is not permitted:

Barton G

The Forge

Azul

Two of the 21 said that the only condition was that the wine you bring may not be on their list (Prime 112, Capital Grille).

The other 19 said that you may bring any wine that you like upon payment of the corkage fee, with no restrictions or conditions:

Pacific Time

Chef Allen

Michy’s

North 110

Mark’s South Beach

Osteria del Teatro

Oritanique

Hannah’s Gourmet Diner

Tantra

Escopazzo

Social

A Fish Called Avalon

The Palm (Coral Gables)

The Palm (Miami Beach)

Timo

Vix

That’s pretty-much an exhaustive list of the top and most popular restaurants in Miami.  18 of them have a corkage fee, and with the sole condition that two of them impose about not bringing a wine already on their list, no restaurant imposes any other conditions or restrictions on the bottles you may bring

The statement "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list." is false.  It is a figment of the imagination.  Restating it over and over again doesn't make it valid.  It is not based on reality or fact, and cannot be substantiated or documented.  What has been substantiated and documented is that when you pay the corkage fee, you may bring whatever wine you like, for whatever reason.

I'm afraid you misunderstood. I was never trying to define the phrase 'corkage fee'. I was merely trying to explain why it exists. Thus, "A wine corkage fee exists", not "...is". Mine is a cultural interpretation, and thus perfectly stated; but certainly, it was never meant as a Webster's-like 'definition'. You have done some great research, though. Congratulations.
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The definition of a "corkage fee" is that fee charged by a restaurant to a customer who brings his own wine.

The statement "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list." is simply one person's opinion. It's of no real consequence or importance, because when restaurants are asked, they say that there are no conditions or restrictions; restaurants do not specify that you may only bring "special" bottles or that you may not bring a bottle because you don't like what they offer. That's one man's interpretation only, and should be noted as such. It exists to cover the restaurant's expenses in serving that wine, and to replace the profit that the restaurant would have made had the customer purchased a wine from the list. It's a monetary transaction, and any conditions or restrictions on it not stated by the restaurant are imaginary.

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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The definition of a "corkage fee" is that fee charged by a restaurant to a customer who brings his own wine.

The statement "A wine corkage fee exists to allow a customer to bring a special wine, not to bring what they like, because they don't like what's on your list." is simply one person's opinion. It's of no real consequence or importance, because when restaurants are asked, they say that there are no conditions or restrictions; restaurants do not specify that you may only bring "special" bottles or that you may not bring a bottle because you don't like what they offer.  That's one man's interpretation only, and should be noted as such.  It exists to cover the restaurant's expenses in serving that wine, and to replace the profit that the restaurant would have made had the customer purchased a wine from the list.  It's a monetary transaction, and any conditions or restrictions on it not stated by the restaurant are imaginary.

If one sees everything in a restaurant visit as simply a 'monetary transaction', then I can understand your interpretation. However, there are many wonderful things that happen in a restaurant visit that don't appear on your bill. I assure you, they are not imaginary.
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To me, this thread is really is about the issue of hospitality in the restaurant industry. The topic of corkage just illustrates the concept. No 'right' or 'wrong' answer here...but interesting attitudes expressed. I often BYOB, but I'm a wine collector with many older bottles, and would only bring a bottle not on a restaurant's list. Of those restaurants in which I'm a regular (also in NYC btw), corkage tends to be waived because they know me but I never expect it. I also, over the years, have bought more in wine and alcohol from them when dining than I've done with BYOB.

I must say, I--as a collector and consumer--was a bit put off by froggio's attitude...it doesn't, IMHO, express a sense of hospitality but almost puts the consumer in the role of adversary. I'd almost avoid this restaurant just because of the tone of his emails.

Oh....I would never BYOB to a "wine restaurant." That would be absurd, and (maybe responsible for froggio's tone) insulting to the restaurant. Here, I'm thinking about places like Veritas and Cru, which (understandably) don't allow it anyway, or the newer places like Varietal.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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I agree with you, DutchMuse. I also would never bring wine to a "wine" restaurant, or think of it. I knew somebody once who wanted to, and it was just so strange and out of place. I would also never bring a bottle that was on a restaurant's list. I just wouldn't do it.

I do bring older wines from my cellar to restaurants if they don't have them, but not only those. I collect a lot of wines that happen to be younger, and if I want to drink one with a meal instead of what they offer, as long as there's a corkage fee, I bring one of those.

The interesting thing happens on vacation. Take the example of a place with really good food, and a small, horrible wine list, nothing you'd ever want to drink with good food, that has a corkage fee. In that case I don't have any problem with visiting a wine store and buying something I'd like to drink, and paying the fee. If it happens that the wine I've chosen isn't that expensive, I don't really think about it. I bring it because I know I'm going to enjoy it more than what's on the restaurant's list. It's not like I can fly home to grab a bottle from my cellar, and it's not like I'm going to drink a lousy wine from their list. I've been in restaurants that have only "boutique" whites dripping with oak on their list, in which case I've stopped at a wine store and purhcased a delicious Alsace white for $15 to bring. Sometimes, the corkage fee is more than the price of the wine. But I wind up drinking something I enjoy.

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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To me, this thread is really is about the issue of hospitality in the restaurant industry. The topic of corkage just illustrates the concept. No 'right' or 'wrong' answer here...but interesting attitudes expressed.  I often BYOB, but I'm a wine collector with many older bottles, and would only bring a bottle not on a restaurant's list. Of those restaurants in which I'm a regular (also in NYC btw), corkage tends to be waived because they know me but I never expect it.  I also, over the years, have bought more in wine and alcohol from them when dining than I've done with BYOB.

I must say, I--as a collector and consumer--was a bit put off by froggio's attitude...it doesn't, IMHO, express a sense of hospitality but almost puts the consumer in the role of adversary. I'd almost avoid this restaurant just because of the tone of his emails. 

Oh....I would never BYOB to a "wine restaurant." That would be absurd, and (maybe responsible for froggio's tone) insulting to the restaurant.  Here, I'm thinking about places like Veritas and Cru, which (understandably) don't allow it anyway, or the newer places like Varietal.

The funny thing is, I am sure these exact places you mention are constantly being asked to do the exact thing that 'no one' would ever ask them to do. And much worse. Perhaps that explains the 'touchy' nature of this subject. :biggrin: Edited by Miami Danny (log)
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I do not understand why how much you consume of the second bottle is relevant to charging you a corkage fee or not.  Can you explain your thinking on why its relevant, please?

This is a very interesting point, and it brings me to what seems to be a blatantly obvious solution, since markk has pointed out that opening the second bottle for only a glass with dessert, and being charged the second corkage fee, is an issue.

Instead of sitting down with the owner and taking upon the task of educating her about her entire wine list, how difficult would it be to ask her to simply carry one dessert wine that you could order by the glass at the end of your meal? Since this is a place you've established a long-term bond with, I'd possibly even start by bringing a bottle of fairly inexpensive dessert wine as a gift.

It's very likely that she could find something suitable from one of several wine distributors in the area, and that way you could simply order your one glass to complete the meal, and the whole issue would be finished.

But then again, if the place doesn't generally meet your standards for hospitality, you may well be better off deciding not to visit there anymore, anyway.

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Instead of sitting down with the owner and taking upon the task of educating her about her entire wine list, how difficult would it be to ask her to simply carry one dessert wine that you could order by the glass at the end of your meal? Since this is a place you've established a long-term bond with, I'd possibly even start by bringing a bottle of fairly inexpensive dessert wine as a gift.

It's very likely that she could find something suitable from one of several wine distributors in the area, and that way you could simply order your one glass to complete the meal, and the whole issue would be finished.

But then again, if the place doesn't generally meet your standards for hospitality, you may well be better off deciding not to visit there anymore, anyway.

Well, based on the complete lack of thought that went into the perfunctory 12 bottle wine list to begin with, I would say that this is really unlikely to happen. And of course, if they cared at all about the wines they offer, they wouldn't be having the wines they do in the first place. I'm positive that it's one distributor's rep who has made the list for her and supplied the wines; nobody could purposely assemble what's on that list. It's really a lot easier and more practical for me to open another bottle and have some with dessert, and pay the second corkage fee, which I do every time; I mean, I'm bringing wine anyway and paying.

Of course, a restaurant experience is a blend of "food" and "vibe", culinary skill and hospitality, a mixture of the tangible and intangible, and what happened is that in the course of experimenting and trying some new restaurants in the mix while there on vacation, we found some that we enjoyed a lot more, and without consciously excluding this place, we realized that we had gone a whole ten day trip without returning there, and probably won't in the future.

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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Instead of sitting down with the owner and taking upon the task of educating her about her entire wine list, how difficult would it be to ask her to simply carry one dessert wine that you could order by the glass at the end of your meal? Since this is a place you've established a long-term bond with, I'd possibly even start by bringing a bottle of fairly inexpensive dessert wine as a gift.

It's very likely that she could find something suitable from one of several wine distributors in the area, and that way you could simply order your one glass to complete the meal, and the whole issue would be finished.

But then again, if the place doesn't generally meet your standards for hospitality, you may well be better off deciding not to visit there anymore, anyway.

Well, based on the complete lack of thought that went into the perfunctory 12 bottle wine list to begin with, I would say that this is really unlikely to happen. And of course, if they cared at all about the wines they offer, they wouldn't be having the wines they do in the first place. I'm positive that it's one distributor's rep who has made the list for her and supplied the wines; nobody could purposely assemble what's on that list. It's really a lot easier and more practical for me to open another bottle and have some with dessert, and pay the second corkage fee, which I do every time; I mean, I'm bringing wine anyway and paying.

Of course, a restaurant experience is a blend of "food" and "vibe", culinary skill and hospitality, a mixture of the tangible and intangible, and what happened is that in the course of experimenting and trying some new restaurants in the mix while there on vacation, we found some that we enjoyed a lot more, and without consciously excluding this place, we realized that we had gone a whole ten day trip without returning there, and probably won't in the future.

Why not ask the proprietor how they compiled their list? Your guess that some distributor's rep compiled it is speculation. And, not to slight wine reps, either-most of them are pretty knowledgeable.

Obviously the restaurant's owners put a lot of effort into the food, maybe they put some effort into carrying wines that, although they may not be up to your standards, actually sell? People often ask me for wines I don't carry, and, if possible, I try to find them for their next visit. But that's not always possible.

And I noticed you went from a 'regular' to a tourist there for ten days. Quelle difference! Could explain everything.

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Why not ask the proprietor how they compiled their list?  Your guess that some distributor's rep compiled it is speculation.  And, not to slight wine reps, either-most of them are pretty knowledgeable. 

Good point. I deal with a number of wine reps, and not only are they knowledgeable, but they are very dedicated and committed to providing excellent products. They travel to the restaurants where I work, and many others, giving classes on wine, discussing everything from the growing conditions of a particular grape to possible pairings from the wine list to specific menu items.

In fact, any of the wine reps that I know would be rather heartbroken to see a wine list as shoddy as the one markk describes, and would be constantly suggesting better wines for the list.

Are the reps in my city that unusual?

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And I noticed you went from a 'regular' to a tourist there for ten days.  Quelle difference!  Could explain everything.

I took a few minutes to come up to speed on this thread from the top, and, Holy Cow, Batman, Markk never said any such thing. He never said that he's "a regular". What he said was:

There's a restaurant that we go to regularly on vacation. 

We like the food, which is why we'll go three or four nights on a week when we're in town. 

And then in a request for further details, he said:

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?

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.

He also definitely never said later on that he "sees everything in a restaurant visit as simply a 'monetary transaction'". (What he said was that the corkage fee was a monetary transaction.) Those were words that you put in his mouth, and then argued with him over it, which you seem to be doing throughout the thread, twisting words, claiming they came from somebody else, then arguing with them. This is a pretty interesting discussion of the finer points of hospitality and graciousness, and while you seem to be a restaurant owner (you mention your customers asking for things) your posts on the matter are argumentative, confrontational, contrary, and really insensitive. Not to mention consistently inhospitable. One can't switch on hospitality and graciousness - they have to exist in your soul, inherently, and it would seem from your posts that they're foreign to your nature. Who in the hospitality industry would be instinctively contrary or combative with a customer who dines in a place three to four times a week, and does so at different times of the year? And for that matter, who in the hospitality industry belittles tourists? Restaurants in destination cities depend on a mix of local patrons plus a steady stream of out of towners, and are always thrilled to see people from afar who return time after time. Locals vacation elsewhere, out-of-towners come in their place, and this is the rhythm of a city's restaurant industry. It's an important part of having a broad customer base, appreciated by all restaurateurs.

Personally, I don't see any reason why he should have to spend any time discussing the wine list with the owner. If they offer a corkage fee and don't care what you bring, I think what he does is the most logical thing. He drinks what he enjoys, and if the list has what it has because the other patrons enjoy it, it's a win-win situation all around.

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Good point. I deal with a number of wine reps, and not only are they knowledgeable, but they are very dedicated and committed to providing excellent products. They travel to the restaurants where I work, and many others, giving classes on wine, discussing everything from the growing conditions of a particular grape to possible pairings from the wine list to specific menu items.

I believe that. But I really don't think that's the case here. We're talking about a small place where the owner is the waitress, and there is no staff. At dinnertime it's her, the cook, and anohter person in the kitchen. I don't think that anybody's offering wine education to them, and if somebody is, I don't think it's being accepted (or followed). Having eaten there so many times, and having brought wine so many times, and having had the discussion that I do it because I just don't care for what's on their list, and having given them tastes of everything with positive reactions and then leaving them nearly full bottles of wine time and time again, it's telling (to me anyway) that they never once offered "would you like us to get in certain wines for you?", or on return visits being told "we have some new things on the wine list that you might like".

Perhaps I'm dead wrong, but it really stikes me as an afterthought that somebody probably said to a distributor "can you give me 6 whites and 6 reds so we can call it a list?" It is indeed possible that a 12 bottle list could have many gems, and could be chosen with great care from various regions of the world. (You could have a rich Alsace white wine, a crisp Portuguese white, a robust red from Cahors, an elegant Pinor Noir from Washington or Oregon, etc., though I don't think you could get them with one-stop shopping, and it'd take some effort.) But as I've said, it's exactly the opposite on this list. And except in the case of an eGullet discussion, it's really not my place to second-guess their business decisions or psychological rationale. The first time I went, I stopped by in the afternoon to look at the list. When I saw it for what it was, I asked if there was a corkage fee, and then brought my own from then on. I have sometimes brought bottles from home (not that easy any more with air travel) and other times purchased them locally, but the end result is that whether it's from my having taken the time to try to teach them what to have, which has been suggested here but which I think would be highly inappropriate - I assume that they're doing what they do for their own reasons and respect that -- or because I take a little time to bring my own wines, the end result is that I'm really happy with what I drink there. If they didn't have a corkage fee and I wanted to eat their food anyway, then I'd have to think about asking them for different wines.

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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And I noticed you went from a 'regular' to a tourist there for ten days.  Quelle difference!  Could explain everything.

I took a few minutes to come up to speed on this thread from the top, and, Holy Cow, Batman, Markk never said any such thing. He never said that he's "a regular". What he said was:

There's a restaurant that we go to regularly on vacation. 

We like the food, which is why we'll go three or four nights on a week when we're in town. 

And then in a request for further details, he said:

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?

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.

He also definitely never said later on that he "sees everything in a restaurant visit as simply a 'monetary transaction'". (What he said was that the corkage fee was a monetary transaction.) Those were words that you put in his mouth, and then argued with him over it, which you seem to be doing throughout the thread, twisting words, claiming they came from somebody else, then arguing with them. This is a pretty interesting discussion of the finer points of hospitality and graciousness, and while you seem to be a restaurant owner (you mention your customers asking for things) your posts on the matter are argumentative, confrontational, contrary, and really insensitive. Not to mention consistently inhospitable. One can't switch on hospitality and graciousness - they have to exist in your soul, inherently, and it would seem from your posts that they're foreign to your nature. Who in the hospitality industry would be instinctively contrary or combative with a customer who dines in a place three to four times a week, and does so at different times of the year? And for that matter, who in the hospitality industry belittles tourists? Restaurants in destination cities depend on a mix of local patrons plus a steady stream of out of towners, and are always thrilled to see people from afar who return time after time. Locals vacation elsewhere, out-of-towners come in their place, and this is the rhythm of a city's restaurant industry. It's an important part of having a broad customer base, appreciated by all restaurateurs.

Personally, I don't see any reason why he should have to spend any time discussing the wine list with the owner. If they offer a corkage fee and don't care what you bring, I think what he does is the most logical thing. He drinks what he enjoys, and if the list has what it has because the other patrons enjoy it, it's a win-win situation all around.

Ah but he also said:

"It's just that maybe I'm used to restaurants who in some way do something thoughtful for their regular guests."

As I see it, the issue Markk raised was his belief that the restaurant should not charge him corkage in the second bottle of wine. he also raised the issue in the context of his belief that he is a regular or at least known customer.

I would say that regardless of how he sees his status, it is really how the restaurant sees him and whether or not they want to waive the corkage fee on the second bottle he brings.

I also see this as a situation where there is a failure to communicate.

Further supported by Markk relaying the incident of the bass. If the type of bass served is important to a customer then the customer should indicate this when ordering. I feel the restuarant is under no obligation or rule of hospitality to indicate where the bass is from, it obviously is not an issue with their clientele. When the dish was delivered to the table and sampled was IMOP the time to raise the issue with the restaurant, not when the table was being cleared.

If one has a question as to why they are charged or not charged for something then they should bring it up with the restaurant. This goes for the type of bass served as well as the corkage fee.

Oddly, this corkage issue is sort of a moot issue.

If one goes to a restaurant with a wonderful list of wines and top notch wine service, the corkage is built into the price of the wines--the mark up. So opening a second or a third bottle, one will be, in fact, paying for wine service on each bottle. The mark up is not reduced for someone who only finishes half the bottle.

This actually sounds like a nice place with good food and service. Okay so the wine list is lacking so they charge a reasonable fee for corkage and let you bring your own wine--sounds like a good deal to me. I just wouldn't let the petty (to me anyway) issue of being charged corkage for a bottle I didn't finish get in the way--but again that's me. If this is a big issue then one should talk to the restaurant about it or simply dine elsewhere. saying the restaurant is somehow to blame or is at fault for not providing a professional level of hospitality is really stretching things a bit--the mountain out of a mole hill etc.

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If the type of bass served is important to a customer then the customer should indicate this when ordering. I feel the restuarant is under no obligation or rule of hospitality to indicate where the bass is from

Well, that's just silly. Chilean Sea Bass, which isn't bass at all, is never billed as "Sea Bass". And I think that markk explained it thoroughly and candidly, including that it had apparently always been Sea Bass before, and that even the owner acknowledged that:

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.

So this doesn't seem to be really relevant either:

If one has a question as to why they are charged or not charged for something then they should bring it up with the restaurant. This goes for the type of bass served as well as the corkage fee... If this is a big issue then one should talk to the restaurant about it or simply dine elsewhere.

I think he made his feelings pretty clear throughout:

And as I said, we certainly didn't stop opening second bottles for one glass and paying the second fee, and this didn't keep us from going back. 

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.
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.

Personally, I can't imagine saying to a restaurateur "We like your food, but your hospitality and attitude aren't as nice as other places we go to, so if you want us to come back you'll have to become more gracious and develop a winning personality like they have" - how awkward would that be?

It seems to me that this thread from the beginning was about an intangible part of restaurant dining that was pretty perfectly summed up by another poster:

This is not about corkage fees or improperly described dishes. It is about what an owner or manager does or does not do to make guests feel appreciated. This owner failed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is an art to creating a relationship I think ..and there is also a brilliant art to creating an illusion of great generosity with out loosing money!

when a patron goes back to a place ..orders tons of food....apprecaites and enjoys the experiance by complimenting, generous ordering and a good tip...then I think it is what makes a wonderful restaurant ..for the owner ...or whomever to make the patron feel like they are getting a little something extra .....no matter what the modest level of the actual gratitude comes out as (even if the owner needs every single penny to keep running) ....that little thing is the defining factor ..in making going out to eat as a "regular" an event vs just not having to cook for yourself!

that little something such as a small dish "compliments of the chef" or the waiving of the second corkage fee..has NOTHING to do with "getting something for free" imho..it has everything to do with feeling very appreciated as a generous customer ..

this is a very interesting thread I had never realized how I felt until I read it all though....thank you!

hope that makes as much sense to the reader as it did in my brian!

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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oh PS

the first time an owner misrepresented food to me ..then agreed they had done it ..then billed me for it anyway ...would for sure be the last time I spent my money there ....

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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  • 3 weeks later...

as a waiter in Philly, which has a ton of BYOBs (i work at one) here's what i got:

1. the owner has no hospitality training.

2. Chilean Sea Bass is really a made up moniker for Patagonian Toothfish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patagonian_toothfish

3. the owner may be really poor and struggling to stay in business. this is still no excuse for bad hospitality.

4. you are completely in the right and i feel your pain with some of the responses on this thread.

5. if you're doing a great job as a guest (and you are) only frequent places that make you feel comfortable. alternatively you could discuss the winelist and corkage fee with the owner in a roundabout way.

6. vis a vis the beer question: come to philly! you can bring any bottle of any alcohol to any BYOB and there's no fee! we have regulars who bring premixed cocktails, beer, champagne, wine, dessert wines and everything else under the sun.

--

matt o'hara

finding philly

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