BYOwineclub has begun!

Back in January, I wrote a short post about BYOB and the lack of it in London. Little did I know what a response I would get and what a *ahem* thirst there was for it here in London. Fast forward 6 months and a new club has just been founded here in London to address that very problem of the lack of BYO in our fair city. Now, I have nothing to do with the club other then being a member but I think it’s a great idea who time has finally arrived. Founders Chris and Khadine Johnson-Rose came up with the idea after they wanted to have a going away party in a nice restaurant drinking their own wines and couldn’t find a place in West London that could accommodate them. They got to thinking and came up with the BYOWineclub. The premise is quite simple. You pay a fee to have access to restaurants that would normally either not offer BYO or charge very high corkage fees. In exchange for your yearly membership fee, the restaurants will either charge little or no corkage fee. Most of the fees range from £5 – £15 pounds. So far they have signed up a number of great London restaurants, including Baltic, Boisdales of Bishopsgate, Club Gascon, Arbutus, Hix, Aubergine, Tom Aikens and Apsleys at the Lanesborough to name check a couple of them. There are a few restrictions but my favourite has to be from Cafe Anglais who stipulate that you cannot bring more then one bottle per person! While it is true I had my last birthday dinner there and we did BYO, I ‘m pretty sure I’m not the reason for that rule More and more restaurants are being added all the time, so be sure to check their website to see if your favourite restaurant is part of the club. As an added bonus, BYOWineclub has teamed up with the wine merchant, Nicholas, and they will be running special promotions in...

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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...

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Why don’t we have more BYOB in London?

Bring Your Own Booze. Like doggie bags, it’s a concept  that hasn’t quite made it over the pond to the shores of Ol’ Blighty. Ask for a doggie bag and you more often than not get a look like you just asked for doggie style. BYOB? It seems you might as well be asking to bring your own food to a restaurant. But why not bring your own wine for a reasonable or no corkage fee? BYOB has been around for ages in various manifestations, I found it being traced back to the 19th century on Wikipedia, the last B standing for Basket (for picnic baskets which invariably had a bottle or two nestled amongst the food, I presume). Nowadays,  the last B stands for Bottle or Booze. Of course, BYOB is an economical way to have a night out but when I worked in fine dining in the States, it was more often than not that guests brought  in their best bottles to celebrate and/or enjoy with their meals. Corkage fees varied but the average seemed to be around $20, oftentimes less and those who brought their own wine were wise to the fact that they couldn’t bring a wine that was already on the restaurant list. So, if even fine dining restaurants do it in America, why not here? London has some of the best wines in the world readily available yet unless they’re on the winelist, you’re out of luck (unless you don’t mind coughing up plenty of dough if they are on the winelist). There are however, some restaurants that allow you to BYOB in London, most of them feature Asian cuisine for some reason, those that don’t include; The Hawksmoor in Shoreditch, Cafe Anglais in Bayswater, Racine in South Ken, St. John in Farringdon, The Bloody French in Westbourne Grove and, of course, the Foodie bloggers favourite (which happens to be Asian), Tayyabs in East London. Texture in Central London is doing a special offer at the moment, waiving...

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