Wine & Food

Snooth User: dmcker

Vancouver thinks wine shouldn't cost more than food at restaurants

Posted by dmcker, Nov 25, 2009.

Enlightened, or not? A Vancouver, B.C. bylaw scheduled to go into effect on January 1 says that restaurants can't serve wine that costs more than the food they're serving.
http://www.bcwinelover.com/vancouve...

Seems like it's a battle in the evolving war between restaurateurs and bar/club owners in that community. Can imagine many restaurant owners I know spewing and turning beet-red at the idea. Can't imagine wine distributors and wineries would like the idea much, either. And the timing seems particularly feeble minded in the face of the upcoming Winter Olympics scheduled to take place soon after the bylaw takes effect, just up the hill from this gateway city. Local government planning ways to *limit* local income during the influx?? Plenty of possibility for abuse, of course, and I can imagine patrons adding more to their tips just to get a bottle they want....

Any thoughts?

Replies

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Reply by zufrieden, Nov 25, 2009.

If you do the arithmetic, the wine portion of the bill will eliminate all but the most expensive entrées. This rule may well be deliberate in that it will net much larger food bills along with the already exorbitant alcohol charge (100 to 130 percent of the already absurd retail levels in BC). This should increase the cost ratio of food to alcohol but might not affect overall revenues. Indeed, far from limiting local income, this may encourage patrons to buy more expensive entrées to pair with a favorite wine (or even a passable one given the absurd price of alcoholic beverages in BC).

In short, let's say this law seems more at home in the Pre-Cambrian Age...

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 25, 2009.

Frankly it limits big-ticket bottles completely, since no dishes are going to cost $100 or more. And in no way will it be possible to serve enough food to make up for a restaurant's margins on big bottles. Wish all restaurants 'only' added 100% of their costs to each bottle on their wine lists. ;-(

Hard to imagine how this proposed bylaw can be allowed to interfere with the Olympian levels of income eating establishments will aim for in the next few months....

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Reply by John Andrews, Nov 25, 2009.

BC has a definitely interesting political scene. Definitely more socialist in nature than the rest of Canada. That said, this doesn't make any sense to me. It seems that the government is trying to dictate how a business should be run. It would make more sense to have a new class of establishment license: Restaurant (food + liquor), Lounge (more liquor but some food) and bar/club (mostly liquor) rather than punish restaurants.

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Reply by John Andrews, Nov 25, 2009.

Just pinged a friend in BC in the wine industry ... here is her quote, "they canned it under pressure-archaic at best-someone came to some sense. Kitchens still have to offer full menu all hrs tho"

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Reply by zufrieden, Nov 25, 2009.

I don't think there is any intent to "punish" businesses with this now (apparently) canned law. it is just stupidity - plain and simple. If you have ever suffered the secondary streets and roads of the Greater Vancouver area you will see an almost complete lack of forethought and planning. This intellectual vacuum is no different in the management of laws directed at the service industry.

As for the point about the big ticket bottles (bearing in mind that a 100 dollar wine in a BC restaurant is really a 30 dollar wine from a grocery merchant in Washington State), these make up such a minute proportion of the total wine cellar of a typical restaurant that all our discussion on the economics become very moot indeed. Except for a relative few top shelf eateries, most wine lists end well before the 100 dollar threshold is reached.

What worries me more is the sheer inanity of the law.

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 26, 2009.

My guess is that there will be plenty of $100 wines on lists at eateries in Vancouver and Whistler during the Olympics. More at lower prices, but plenty in the stratosphere, too. Lots of visitors will be carrying fat wallets....

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Reply by sacrifice333, Nov 26, 2009.

There will be plenty of wines well above $100/bottle... places in Whistler like Rim Rock Cafe, Bearfoot Bistro, The Wine Room and others will have many into the 4-digit range...

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Reply by zufrieden, Nov 26, 2009.

I agree that you can purchase even mid 4-figure wines and this is no actual rarity, but often you have to request an extended wine list unless in one the Houses that Excess Built (there are one or two on your list, for instance). And I admit to preferring my own wine cellar since I often cannot find a decent wine for a decent price on typical wine lists and positively hate being blatantly ripped off (whether or not I can pony up the lucre is beside the point to me). I was referring to the typical restaurant bearing in mind that I live in the sybaritic pleasure dome of suburbia (and this ain't no City of Angels).

I should perhaps also clarify my reference to "punishment" of certain restaurants. Clearly, it is the restaurant that sells the Chateau Latour magnum that can transform itself into an exclusive drinking parlor - racking up thousands of dollars in liquor sales versus a few hundred for food. The social engineers on the Vancouver City Council clearly balk at this chameleon-like brand of restaurant. However, as I pointed out before, I have no ethical issue with this at all. It isn't making much of an inroad into the so-called regular drinking establishment's business - that's for sure.

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Reply by sacrifice333, Nov 26, 2009.

Sorry... I thought this thread was more up-to-date... the proposed Bylaw in question was withdrawn by Vancouver City Council on November 2, 2009, so no need to worry about us not being allowed to purchase vintage Petrus. ;)

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Reply by zufrieden, Nov 26, 2009.

Yeah, most of us knew that but the discussion was interesting and worth pursuing if only for scoring a few academic points! :)

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Reply by sacrifice333, Nov 30, 2009.

New bylaw goes to council on Tuesday that will actually expand bar, restaurant, and alcohol serving hours during the Olympics among other things.

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 30, 2009.

Just for the Olympics, or more permanent?

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Reply by sacrifice333, Dec 1, 2009.

Significant temporary extensions... and eventually a possible new attempt at ensuring restaurants are restaurants and bars are bars without an arbitrary limiting of the value of liquor sales vs. food sales.

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 1, 2009.

So what, exactly, is the benefit of keeping restaurants restaurants and bars bars, in B.C. thinking?

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Reply by sacrifice333, Dec 1, 2009.

that is a good question... probably has to do with zoning and sticking to a similar business plan to what your liquor permit was granted for?

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Reply by Tazzie, Jan 1, 2010.

In reality, the entire system for alcohol distribution in this province needs to be reviewed and totally overhauled. The taxes we pay are extortionist, the archaic laws surrounding serving are enough to make most normal people throw up their hands in disgust. Most people who visit here are so flabbergasted by our inane laws that some won't come back. Why should I or anyone else have to go out to find a liquor store to purchase our wine, beer, or spirits, and then go to a grocery store to buy our cheese, or other accompaniments.

Why in fact has the government placed a moratorium on all privately owned liquor or wine stores? They opened up this regulation for a few months about 5 years ago and then quickly put an indefinite embargo on anyone else who may be interested in opening up a specialty shop. God forbid there should be any competition. I could go on but there is no point. What it really comes down to is the government trying to have as much control over another aspect of our lives as it wants and taxing us through the nose for the privilege.

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Reply by VegasOenophile, Jan 2, 2010.

It's not a bad notion. The restaurant markup is insane! I think the only markup worse is furniture hahaha. I am a "bring my own and pay corkage" kinda guy before I'd eer buy anything, especially a top tier wine, from a restaurant. I understand the venue has to make its money, but when a glass in a restaurant costs as much as a bottle retails for, I have a hard time ordering even that glass.

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Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Jan 8, 2010.

I wonder if a corkage fee equivalent to the price of the entree would have flown. There is nothing better than restaurants, which allow you to bring your own. Eddie Martini's in Milwaukee used to offer this service, but has sinced stopped it. It was delightful to be able to pair a vintage bordeaux with their excellent steak au poivre. Few restaurants can afford to offer a wine list that competes with a wine lovers cellar.


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