A case study and responses to BYOB in London
When I put out my little post asking why there wasn’t more BYOB in London, little did I know what a reaction I’d get! I seemed to have tapped into a wellspring of discontent with the state of restaurant winelists and the ridiculously high markups that it seems many restaurants enforce.
The response was incredible. Both via comments on my blog and via people tweeting me. Many people commented that if restaurants allowed BYOB that they would be more inclined to go out. Coincidentally, the day after I posted that questions, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing how restaurants in San Francisco are now doing away with the corkage fee altogether in an effort to attract customers (and it looks like it’s working).
My Aussie readers were incredulous that London establishments did not allow BYOB, it being almost universal in Australia. The wine trade weighed in as well, commenting that perhaps restaurants had gotten too greedy. Many don’t seem to have realized that we no longer live in the boom years of the last century and should change their policies accordingly.
I also got plenty of recommendations for restaurants that I had neglected to add to the list. Check out the comment section of the BYOB post to view the recommendations.
I also heard back from various restaurants and one in particular (Kitchen W8) wrote to me with their experience of BYOB in London. I’m publishing it here because I think it really does show that not only customers but also restaurants can benefit greatly from a BYOB policy.
What Kitchen W8 wrote about their BYOB experiment in Nov. 09:
BYO returns in January 2010
We had a phenomenal success with our BYO offer in November.
All manner of interesting wines were brought in, with many an intriguing story attached to the bottles drunk. There was a fair amount of bottle sharing amongst different tables and very generous tastes being offered to both our staff and other customers. Of course, there was a large element of pride involved. In short, it was a delight. Our favourite story involved two separate tables who, quite independently, brought in bottles of Ducru Beaucaillou. One from the 70′s and the other from the 90′s. Each table tasted the other vintage and at the end nobody could reach a decision as to which was the better.
It seemed such a well received idea that we are all for bringing it back for 2010. We know that we all have wines that are deemed to be too good to drink at home and too expensive to be drunk in restaurants, so this is the perfect occasion. Join us on Sunday evenings and bring your special bottle with you. There is no charge for this. If you haven’t got one just begging to be drunk ask the expert opinions of three great local wine merchants and get them to make recommendations….
What a great story. Now if we could just get more restaurants to follow Kitchen W8′s example. In case you missed it the first time around, you can find comprehensive listings of London BYOB on Wine-pages, London Eating and Square Meal. And The Gourmet Traveler was inspired by my question to call around and compile a list, read her post here on more who do and don’t do BYOB in London.