Bring Your Own Bottle-Free Party? What a good idea?

A recent article in the Irish Times mentioned that the Bring your Own Bottle phenomenon is making a comeback. What does it mean? It means that you can bring your own booze to a restaurant and in many of the venues mentioned in the article, there was no corkage – a fee the restaurant charges the customer to bring their own wine. Corkage ranged from free to €15.00 per bottle and a lower charge for beer.

Why do customers love this idea? Who doesn’t love a party? All sorts of reasons, it gives them the power over their own alcohol choices, it gives them control over their spend on alcohol, it also gives control over how much they want/ can drink in one sitting and over the quality of what they choose to drink. Win, win.   

Want to know the advantages to a restaurant of a Bring your own Bottle policy. None. That’s what.

  1. They weren’t issued with a licence.
  2. They feel that they don’t know enough about wines and beers to sell them.
  3. They don’t have enough storage for the bottles, kegs.
  4. They think that the cost of a licence will be prohibitive (it’s not).
  5. They think that it will bring in more customers (it might).
  6. They like to treat their customers like family.
  7. They don’t realise that they are cutting out a profitable source of revenue.

Let’s look at the reasons why a restaurant might choose to allow customers to bring their own booze.

Let’s now look at the reasons why a restaurant should not have a BYOB policy.

  1. You are providing a free party venue for customers at your expense.
  2. You are incurring the expense of providing
    1. glasses which must be served, cleared, and washed.
    1. probably ice which must be served and paid for by you with no return.
    1. Perhaps lemon, lime slices at your expense.
  3. You will have to clear away the empty glasses – service expense.
  4. You will have to clear away the empty bottles and pay to have them taken away from your premises.
  5. You are missing out on valuable high margin revenue.
  6. You will not have any control over how much alcohol is consumed and just try stopping an already tanked-up group from drinking their own alcohol.
  7. This may have a legal implication if safety issues arise (this is not legal advice – that would need to be sought from a licencing expert).
  8. You will lose any upselling opportunities that you may have had e.g. after dinner drinks, cocktails, food pairings that compliment the menu.
  9. It may negatively impact the overall atmosphere of the restaurant with some guests drinking moderately and others getting sloshed and loud.  

As your guests become merrier and merrier at your expense, it will probably feel like rowdy house guests overstaying their welcome. Will the corkage charged ever make up for all those associated costs? Unlikely. It is an ongoing mystery why any restaurant would willingly choose to go for this option.

You have been warned.