"BYO" restaurants

Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
"BYO" restaurants

I am sorry for posting this simple question, but can someone please explain to me how BYO works? We're Americans and this is a totally foreign concept to us. (We have BYO get-togethers with friends but never at a restaurant!)
If a restaurant is listed as BYO, I understand you bring in your own wine. (Can you bring beer or other drinks?) Then what, you just set it on the table and the waiter corks it for you? I would assume there is a charge? Do BYO restaurants have wine glasses usually?
If a restaurant is listed as "BYO and licensed" then that means that you can either BYO or order off of their drink menu? If a restaurant is BYO and licensed, are the customers who BYO looked at any differently?
Again I apologize for this question...feel free to laugh at it! I am sure we will feel awkward the first time we do this...but we do like wine with dinner so I would like to figure this out now!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:22 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Hi Tim and Liz. No problem with your question as it is an Aussie custom ( not sure if there are other countries that do this too ). I have friends from France and Germany who are horrified at the thought of such uncivilised practice! However you will find us a laid back society generally. Usually byo is limited to the less expensive restaurants but not always so. It makes the custom of casual eating out much easier on the pocket.You bring your own wine but some restaurants prefer that you don't bring beer and soft drinks. Yes the waiter will open it for you sometimes without charge , others will charge you a corkage fee and yes they will provide wine glasses. If the restaurant is byo and licenced, they will definitely charge you corkage but often it will still be cheaper to byo and pay the surchage than to pay the restaurant wine price ( it will normally be at least a 100% markup from the shop price). No-one will care whether you byo or not...they will be too busy happily imbibing their own! Do come, enjoy and relax and try our great selection of wines. Hmmmm...I think I will go and have one right now! Cheers!
Peteralan is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:27 PM
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Sorry I've just read your post again and I think you mean will the staff treat you differently if you byo. I really would not think so...they expect a mix.
Peteralan is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:38 PM
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Don't be embarrassed at your question. There will be many people who don't know about our BYO concept.

You are preety well spot on with your understanding. If a restaurant advertises that it is BYO you bring your own wine/beer with you. To bring soft drinks with you would be considered unacceptable and you are expected to order those from the restaurant.

When you arrive you give the wine to the waiter and they will uncork it for you. If you have brought in several bottles they will put the others aside somewhere until you are ready to drink them. The wine glasses are certainly supplied, but the waiter will not pour just a small amount in a glass in order for you to check that the wine is OK (which they would do if you have ordered the wine from the restaurant). They simply pour out a full glass immediately.

Many restaurants will include a "corkage" charge with their bill for providing this facility. This amount varies from place to place but is often fairly nominal. I have heard some horror stories about corkage charges but they virtually all relate to large group bookings where they charged by the person. A restaurant which is both BYO and licenced is likely to have a higher corkage charge in order to compensate them for you not buying your wine from the restaurant.

If the restaurant is both BYO and licenced the BYO customer will not be treated any differently to those who have purchased the wine from the restaurant.

I love our BYO restaurants as you can bring in whatever wine you like at bottle shop prices. Many restaurants have far too big a mark up on the price of their wine. Being locals it is lovely to be able to go out to a restaurant and have a nice meal without seeing the price of it double because you have ordered a good wine to go with it (especially if you happen to have that same bottle just sitting at home waiting to be drunk).

I believe that Melbourne still has the greatest number of restaurants offering BYO. Virtually all the really up-scale restaurants will be licensed only. However, don't necessarily think that if a restaurant is BYO only that the food will be infereior. BYO's range from the local "mom and pop" restaurant to those offering an excellent meal.

shandy is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:41 PM
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I see that Peteralan beat me to the punch with a reply whilst I was still typing. Fortunately our advice agrees so that you will not be totally confused with conflicting advice.
shandy is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 04:53 PM
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I'm American too and I love the BYO concept. It's common practice in OZ and NZ. Some restaurants specify wine only, others don't. I've never seen anyone take anything other than wine into a restaurant though. The restaurant will advertise BYO in their window or on their menu, so you'll know in advance if it's okay.

You will not be looked at funny or treated any differently if you take your own wine to a BYO restaurant. In fact, you'll probably be surprised at how many customers are doing exactly that.

I've also seen BYO restaurants in wine country in CA, but the restaurant corkage fee in CA is usually outrageous, as if they're trying to discourage the practice. Unlike OZ and NZ, the restaurants in CA that allow BYO are usually very upscale, and I've read that it's bad form to bring a wine they sell (guess you're supposed to do some research first), but that's CA for you.

We often take a bottle of wine with us to dinner when in NZ or OZ. The corkage fee varies, but is usually pretty reasonable. We generally pay between $3-5 and the waiter provides the wine glasses and opens the bottle.

We've found BYO quite handy after spending a few days in wine country and having collected more wine than we can take home. We just take a bottle with us to dinner each night and presto - problem solved!
Melnq8 is online now  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hi Tim & Liz

We sometimes find licenced restaurants may be happy to allow you to bring your own wine, especially if you have a special bottle, which is not on their winelist. e.g. we ring the establishment and ask if it's OK to bring our special celebratory bottle. They often say yes and charge, say $20 corkage to cover serving the wine & washing up the glasses. It's possible to do this at many upmarket establishments. Just phone & ask! All the best!
Lyndie is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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When I first arrived in Australia I found it a bit strange going into a restaurant with my own booze, it felt an especially cheap thing to do but after a couple of visits it becomes second nature.

Everybody does it, people when selecting a restaurant will say its only licensed so knock that one off the list etc,

Also don't tip to the US level just round up the amount to the nearest five dollars or leave a couple of dollars, otherwise the money you've saved on BYO will be lost on your 20% tip

Geordie is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:39 PM
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Here in Canberra almost all restaurants are licenced, but almost all allow BYO - only the top-drawer (at least in their own estimation) don't offer the option. The licenced BYO places nearly always specify "wine only" (i.e. no aperitifs, beer or ports/liqueurs).

You will definitely not be treated as a second-class citizen if you BYO. After all, as the staff won't be expecting a tip (unless perhaps you have a North American accent ), it's no skin off their nose.

Even thye famous Tetsuya's will allow BYO, although you'd better make it a damn good one unless you want to give the sommelier a fit of the delicate vapours, and the corkage charge is somewhat hair-raising. But really, if you're going to shell out $150+ pp for a meal you might as well go the whole hog and let them provide a succession of well-matched wines.

In general, though, if the restaurant allows BYO, you're mad if you don't. Use it as an opportunity to spend $40-50 on a superior wine from the bottleshop, secure in the knowledge that spending the same amount in the restaurant will get you a $20-25 drop at best.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Aug 4th, 2005, 11:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
Thanks, everyone!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  

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