Evolution of Cafes & BYO

1-2 short decades ago almost all cafes and most restaurants in my location were BYO wine. It was great. When corkage became the norm it varied between $3-8 a bottle or person/glass and apparently creeping up. Fair enough, no worries. It is a difficult business and I understand.

A number of new cafes/restaurants have opened over the past 2 years and a few established ones have ‘remodelled’ into fully licensed no BYO. It is their prerogative but once I discover what they are offering, and more importantly not offering, I do not return although it does not seem to impact on their business.

What is my problem? These ‘new style’ are full of themselves. They mostly offer at most 2 whites, 1 pink, 1 shiraz, 1 cab, and 1 pinot, take it or leave it. I prefer wine as an accompaniment to a meal out, I do not enjoy swill, and they are usually offering 1 drinkable-to-decent white, 1 drinkable-to-decent red, and the rest ‘very entry level’, to be kind, to have offerings at comparatively low $.

In contrast I am a regular at an establishment that has never been BYO and has the usual $$$ markup on wine. He keeps a ‘cellar’ collection and there are always many enticing drops on offer in addition to a few modest ones that are sharply priced and above ‘entry level’, covering multiple pages on the list.

I doubt many or any of these inward looking ‘restaurateurs’ read the forum, or if they do will they take notice? Their only concern seems inventory control of 5 varieties versus a range of 20-30 selections, but if even one is caused to have a rethink, worthwhile. It is not about the price (for me) as much as about the offering and enjoyment of a meal. If they want to be fully licensed they should behave like they are fully licensed, not just ‘minimally licensed’ but still entitled to hold diners captive to their bottom line.

Perhaps it is a cynical ploy to reduce drinking by putting us off wine for ‘fun and profit’?


Another thing which used to bring a wry smile to my face at restaurants concerning wine . The charging of “corkage” when most wines had moved to screw cap .


When I used to visit ‘Licenced’ venues with my parents, I thought you could still BYO but as I have not done this in many years I could be/probably am very incorrect in my assumptions. My Dad would take his Grange or whatever and just had to pay a corkage fee for the privilege. He was a fussy drinker so many times unless it was the Qld Cricketers, Qld Club, or the Brisbane Club he had his own bottle.

I don’t think I ever saw a screw cap on any of my Dad’s wines though the screw caps do save the wines from bad corks :slight_smile:


Before I took ill and had to use medication with a stipulation of NO alcohol , I belonged to a wine club and went to various tastings . It was all corked . We often payed for a barrel from a good producer and re bottled and corked our own bottles to "put down " for future use in our “cellars”, read wine rack in my case . The cork was king back then .:laughing:

I must admit I still miss a good Claret . :sob:


There are restaurants that the Chef wouldn’t allow BYO as he had personally selected the limited wine list which he thought best went with the food he was cooking/preparing to serve.

I must admit I will never go to such restaurants as I believe that the Chef’s personal choice will not reflect my own preferences, as every ones own taste is quite different to others.

I also avoid those restaurants that don’t allow BYO wine as we like to share a special bottle with friends/family, such as bottles we may have brought back into Australia from overseas holidays, or a wine with sentimental values.

Not allowing BYO wine to me shows that arrogance of the restaurant to think that they know exactly what their customer’s want. In my case, I have happy to share my business with other who have different views and customer relationships by allowing BYO.


I might be pedestrian but I have come to love screw caps. I am never without an opener unless I miss the increasingly rare, usually imported. I have had a few corked cork sealed wines, but never yet with a screw cap.[quote=“grahroll, post:3, topic:14873”]
I used to visit ‘Licenced’ venues with my parents, I thought you could still BYO

Some licensed venues will still allow BYO wine, but when they advertise as ‘fully licensed’ it is uncommon.

Corked wine - An unintended pun or just a malapropism (?) in context? :wink:

They don’t care what their customers want, they care about their bottom line and simplified inventory management. My value system accepts it is a hard business and drinks are a big profit centre. If they want to charge me $6-10 for the use of their glass I am OK with that as it makes up some of their otherwise ‘lost’ profit. But it also allows them to keep a smaller inventory which accrues operational and cash flow benefits to them as well as a happy customer, so seems like a win-win.


As a keen angler I much prefer to make my floats up out of cork . When it looked like they were fazing natural cork out to be replaced by a synthetic compound and eventually screw caps , I made sure that I , and family and friends , made a concerted effort to drink as much natural corked wine that they could . /

I have enough cork to last me 5 lifetimes :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:Job well done by family and friends .


Would you suggest they call it “screwage”? :slight_smile: Funny story - colleague overseas is in his hotel room and has a bottle of wine and the room has no corkscrew so he calls reception and requests one from the lady who answers who giggles and hangs up. Frustrated he calls again, maybe a couple of times, I don’t recall the story accurately but eventually a man answers and informs him that in this country they call it a ‘wine opener’ and that the ladies he’d spoken to thought he ‘was after something else’. From memory he did get his ‘wine opener’ delivered to the room and enjoyed his wine.

Seriously? his Grange or whatever? what was his “whatever” - Hill of Grace? :slight_smile: He must have loved his wine!

I think I’d still be trying some in moderation - a good drop of red or of malt - but I know it is not to be taken lightly and some ‘no medication’ orders are very serious - I do sympathise …

My ex tried to throw out my cork collection. Tried. :slight_smile:


Yeah he had a pallet of Grange in the garage most years, would give a bottle of it for wedding presents.


As you know, corkage was originally to offset the supposed cost of the sommelier/waiter opening the wine, topping up the wine, wine glass provision & cleaning, wine chiller, ice etc. Realistically, this cost was not very much when defrayed among all the other ‘on costs’ that existed. Now days as several of you have stated ‘corkage/screwage’ is seen as a profit centre & disincentive to bring in wines that the establishment is not profiting from.

Having worked in restaurants decades ago, the wine list was dictated by profit margins. There was no Ponsomby-Smythe-ing about wines. The bigger the profit for the restaurant, the more prominence the wine received on the list. The size of the list was governed by the size of the ‘cellar’ room. I remember selling some cringe-worthy wines as ‘exclusive’ to patrons, and surprisingly most patrons loved them.

I also worked in a more egalitarian drinking establishment, and the markup on the buy cost was pretty consistent across the stock. Much fairer, and much higher turnover, so a much bigger cellar is required.

Now days, I am reluctant to buy wines at eating establishments be they cafes or restaurants as I am appalled at the mark-ups they put onto all the alcohol, compared to generally available retail prices. nevermind what they pay wholesale. I don’t mind paying a bit more for the privilege of convenience, but I do not wish to be scalped.


We have a local restaurant in the neighbouring suburb that started out as a BYO and then they got their liquor licence and banned the BYO and introduced a rather limited wine list as mentioned above. This didn’t go over well with the locals lots of complaints on facebook etc and a lot of people stopped going and you could visibly see the downturn in business when passing by. Then about 9 months later, BYO was back with a modest corkage. Now it’s hard to get a table! They learnt the hard way, people enjoy their special drop.


Agree with BBG. The reason restaurants marked up their wine so much was because they would select and cellar a good selection of wines and that costs money even before one takes spoilage into consideration.
However nowadays, in too many instances, the substantial % mark ups are still present but non of the investment and service that precipitated them.
It is definitely a deal breaker with us if a restaurant has a pitiful wine list offering, especially at silly prices.


We have a local Greek restaurant we patronised for years that went from BYO to fully licensed in 2017, with a modest wine selection. Still as busy as ever. I attribute that to lazy gentrified cashed up people who do not care so much. We now go to another Greek that is BYO friendly.

And none of them turned up to his hotel room? What kind of slipshod joint is this???

There may be some variance when it comes to wine, but no business wants to offer its customers ‘too much choice’. It leaves the average human confused and unable to decide between the multitude of options. I would hazard a guess that perhaps these restaurants with only a few options are expecting to serve people who do not know their wines - and so it is easier for both restaurant and customer if they offer a limited choice rather than having a customer stare blankly at a long list of options.

This is supported by the fact that you find their choices rather ‘entry-level’ - that suits their market, if my assumption is correct.

I know very little about the wine market, but suspect that younger customers know less about their wines. Given this, I would also assume that these places are marketing to young clientele?


A well reasoned post that would hold more water if the ‘offending’ venues did not markup as if they had a proper cellar. The reality is, as you rightly posted,[quote=“postulative, post:15, topic:14873”]
these restaurants with only a few options are expecting to serve people who do not know their wines - and so it is easier for both restaurant and customer if they offer a limited choice
which leaves the rest of us with a ‘1st world quandary’ when the food is good but the wine choices are ordinary as well as charged at a 3.5X markup on RRP.

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I don’t always have wine with breakfast … and breakfast is the most important meal of the day, in all its delicious forms !! :wink: :wink:

I do not remember ever having wine with brekkie although there have been a few champers accompanied brekkies for special occassions, and admit wine at lunch is also a rarity excepting when it is at a vineyard. I don’t mind the vineyards’ markups (at least not the vineyards I visit, which are not the tourist trap sorts) and never encountered a vineyard with BYO :wink:

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We might be drifting off topic, but that’s never stopped me before - there are a number of countries where McDonalds serves beer - McBeer I guess - Portugal, Greece, France, Germany (limited - how can that be?) to name a couple so it must be ok if Maccas do it? Now that’s my kind of ‘Happy Meal’ ™. Interesting there’s not much mention of it (officially) online - probably to keep the ‘puritans’ from becoming restless :wink:

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Maccas is a US company, the same country that tried prohibition and countless other controls on what they deem offensive. They probably have as many ‘activists’ to keep the customers safe and sound (from anything they deem ‘wrong’) amongst the shareholders as any US company so it is not surprising they might keep their heads down. Even our Maccas are superior to the US domestic ‘flavour’.

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