Corkage apparently has become a hot topic in the restaurant industry this year. Virginia decided it too wanted in on the party, so SB1292 was introduced to the VA Legislature to repeal the prohibition on bringing wine onto a licensed establishment’s premises. Not surprisingly, the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association (VHTA), the counterpart to the Restaurant Association of Maryland, opposed the measure, citing “serious public safety concerns” and “confusion among customers.” The bill, according to the VHTA, is a “solution looking for a problem.” Doesn’t this sound vaguely familiar? Why yes, it is exactly the same arguments used by RAM to oppose corkage in Maryland!
The Virginia bill, however, seems to be ending a little more happily. The Virginia Senate voted last night 27 to 13 in SUPPORT of the bill. Yeah! More interestingly, the president of the Restaurant Association of Washington (RAMW) came out very strongly in favor of it. Here is what she had to say to her members about corkage:
“As a northern Virginia restaurateur, and a member of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, we wish to inform you of SB1292, which allows patrons to bring wine into an ABC licensed establishment for consumption on the premises for a fee.
We support the rights of consumers to have a choice, and we see no evil in allowing patrons to BYOB, so long as there is no restriction on a restaurant’s right to charge a service fee or so called corkage fee. Restaurant operators can assure payment of costs incurred and a profit through the imposition of such fees. No establishment should be required to allow BYOB, but it should be an option, just as it is in the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions. Not having such an option puts Virginia restaurateurs at a competitive disadvantage in locations that are in close proximity to areas that allow BYOB, thereby depriving Virginia of sales, and the attendant sales tax and revenue. The availability of this option allows restaurants to attract the high end wine aficionado who enjoys dining out, but prefers the option of bringing wine from their own collection, or from other sources. It represents a marketing opportunity, and a way to stay competitive.
Choice for consumers is a positive for all, and should be encouraged. SB1292 allows another choice for consumers. SB1292 passed the Senate today and is going to the House for consideration, and we urge you to weigh in on this issue by contacting your State Delegate.”
Thank you, Lynne, for taking a stand that puts your customers’ and members’ best interests ahead of your wholesaler supplier partners! If RAMW can support corkage in Virginia, why can’t RAM support corkage in Maryland?
Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws
4315 Underwood Road Baltimore, MD 21218 Tel: (202) 904-4297