Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NL Mulls BYOB Policy for Restaurants

Diners in this province might soon be able to bring their own bottle of wine to restaurants. The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) has put forward a recommendation to change the liquor laws. Now it is up to the Department of Finance to make the final decision.
Doesn’t this seem like a no-brainer? Surely, more choice for patrons is a good thing. Not according to the Restaurant Association. Here’s what they claim:
  • BYOB is bad for business because profit margins are tight (3 per cent), especially at high end restaurants.
  • If BYOB was an option 80 per cent of restaurants would offer it and the other 20 per cent would suffer.

To quote an astute CBC commenter: do they think we just fell off the back of the turnip truck?
If profit margins are really so dire then why are so many restaurants (including high-end ones) springing up all over St. John’s? (sorry to be a Townie but I can only speak about what I know)
Here are some facts:
Eight out of ten provinces already allow BYOB. Last I checked, the restaurant business is alive and well in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, BC (etc. etc.).
Not every restaurant in these provinces offers a BYOB option (in fact only the minority do - nowhere near the ridiculous 80 per cent quoted above). And guess what? In other provinces (and cities around the world) restaurants with different alcohol options manage to play together nicely and still turn a profit.
Not every restaurant offers chicken korma or moose burgers or gluten-free cake. And yet, somehow, by magic! they all manage to thrive. Variety is good!
More to the point: if a restaurant owner wants to offer BYOB and customers want to avail themselves of the option, why should anyone else have the right to stick their nose in?
The protectionist, anti-consumer approach that the Restaurant Association has chosen to take is baffling. We - the patrons, the ones spending the dollars - should have the choice. If you agree, send an email to finance minister Tom Marshall (financeminister@gov.nl.ca) voicing your support for a change in the liquor laws and be sure to cc the Restaurant Association of NL (admin@ranl.ca).

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