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“Dewhurst Bill” Will Allow You to BYOB to Any Restaurant: And Dallas Restaurateurs Are Mad

In case you missed our discussion of the pending “Dewhurst Bill,” I’ll give you a moment to read this and this.
This morning chef Daniel Landsberg of Tillman’s sent out a call to arms to his fellow restaurateurs. He says:

I am sure you all are aware of this wine bill dewhurst is going to get passed unless we all contact our state representatives easily by email with the link provided below asking them to be our voice and vote against the bill Texas HB 4813 which states that anyone can bring in a bottle of wine regardless of what type of liquor license you have. This not only will take money out of our pockets, it opens a completely new can of worms of liability and the ability to cut off an intoxicated guest because it is their wine. I do not know if it carries over to catered events, but, can imagine selling a wedding for 200 guests at your venue and they bring in their own wine?  Not good. This is a special interest B.S. Back door deal that is exactly what is wrong with politics in the US.  What is next?  Beer? Alcohol under a certain proof?  This is OUR BUSINESS.  WE SELL FOOD, WINE AND ALCOHOL. Please do not just discard this email.  DO something. 10 minutes can save OUR industry in Texas for the duration of OUR CAREERS.  Think about it; we bring them in with the great food, we impress them with the total package, but we make real MONEY with alcohol sales.  This has already passed the senate because we did not respond fast enough.  Please, help me save our wine programs!

Here is the link.

108 comments on ““Dewhurst Bill” Will Allow You to BYOB to Any Restaurant: And Dallas Restaurateurs Are Mad

  1. Do any of you restaurant haters realize that besides the US government, RESTAURANTS employ the highest number of workers in the United States economy? I don’t know what you all do for a living, but if we restauranteurs, servers, chefs, cooks, dishwashers, busboys, hosts and owners do not have a job WE WON’T BE SPENDING MONEY IN YOUR BUSINESSES EITHER and not by choice, but because we are unemployed. Think about that for a while because if we go out of business you can drink your yellow taxi at TACO BELL. Speak about things you know about and, like mamma used to say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  2. I’ve not seen much discussion about something that seems in-your-face obvious to me…

    none of the restaurant folks seem to acknowledge a very clear fact – that other states like NY, FL, CA, GA, etc have allowed for corkage (at the option of the restaurant) for YEARS and the restaurant business in those states is doing fine.

    Anyone care to respond to that with a logical argument?

  3. Dear G. Bertram, As Cellarmaster explained above, when other restaurants in other states allow corkage, they make it expensive and you must follow their rules. The high end restaurants do so because wine sales are a big part of making a profit. My restaurant breaks even if it doesn’t generate large volume. Wine sales amount to 30% of the total sales. When a steakhouse has a 41% food cost and a 40% overall beverage cost,which includes the wine sales it might bring 12%-114% to the net operating profit. Some restaurants only have a 32% food cost. The best quality and generous portions cost a lot to put on the plate. Everything helps to make it a business and not a hobby.If a restaurant eliminates linen, or Empire bread on the table, or crystal stemware ,to name a few,they still can make money. If you take away something , you must compensate somewhere else.

  4. @al biernat – “Dear G. Bertram, As Cellarmaster explained above, when other restaurants in other states allow corkage, they make it expensive and you must follow their rules.”

    Yes and if the bill were to pass you could do the same. Ultimately the AMOUNT of customers who would BYOB is SMALL especially if corkage charges are involved. We don’t BYOB all the time even when we go to restaurants that allow it. Another part of this admittedly higher-end scenario is that even when we BYOB we will also buy a bottle off of a reasonably priced wine list.
    Finally,the repeat business you could gain from these scenarios might just offset concerns about your profits.

  5. @Just another customer,I appreciate your comments . Last time we allowed a customer to bring in wine, he carried in 5 bottles for a party of 6. We decanted all of them in crystal decanters, lined up 5 rolls of crystal glasses and had our wine steward pouring them throughout the evening. To be honest they sat there all evening and got upset when we told them about a modest corkage and did not tip the servers except on the food portion. If this law does pass, I hope others will show the same courtesy as you have mentioned.We would love to make special occasion exceptions, if the customers would not get upset if we apply the proper corkage to the bill and PLEASE take care of the staff that is taking care of your party.

  6. Al,

    First of all, you are an amazing restaurateur with an incredible restaurant and deserve to be successful(profitable). Like Just Another Customer said and what my specific point is – other restaurants in other states who have the same rules (actually this bill caps the number of bottles a guest may bring at a total of 2)which say that you as the owner can choose if you want to allow or not, choose to charge or not charge a corkage fee, set the fee at whatever amount you would like…restaurants in other states that have been doing this for years and have businesses that are thriving. Most would tell you that they very rarely get anyone asking to bring in wine. (I worked at a very high-end steakhouse in Florida for two years and only had 2 parties ever bring in their own wine and other servers did not have many either). I think this is scary on the surface to all the steakhouses in Texas, but as in other states, it would turn out to be something that is not really an issue

  7. Congratulations restauranters. The bill died in committee. I guess my dining $ will continue not to go to Al Biernat’s, Fearing’s and the other restaurants that shat their pants out of fear of change. Good luck with the same old, same old in this economy. Would not be surprised to see some heavy hitters fail.