Restaurant Beverage Strategies for Success and Profitability

Pic from Somm Business Blog

I was just reading this on Facebook from an industry magazine and was disappointed in how basic the ideas were. Check it out here: Sommelier Business Article.

Importance of a Diverse Beverage Inventory

There is much more than price-point management and basic food pairing needed for a Somm to successfully manage a dining restaurant’s inventory. Here are a few other ideas to consider:

  • There should be a low, medium and premium price option for each major category. Train staff to upsell wines.
  • Inventory a few recognizable labels in each major category, but the majority of the wine should not be found at local stores – train staff to upsell these wines.
  • Know the local alcoholic beverage procurement laws. If possible, work with distributors, brokers/importers and winery direct to build a diverse selection at the right price-points.

If the menu is even minimally diverse, there is so much more than a wine’s geographic origin to consider:

  • Weight – lighter wines can be more versatile with food.
  • Fruity wines should be included as an aperitif and to pair with sweeter dishes.
  • Complex/Savory wines for specific flavor pairings.
  • Tannic wines to pair with red meats and red sauces.
  • Acidic wines to pair with dishes having cream sauces.

Can the chef build a dessert menu to pair with Ports and Sauternes?

  • Train staff to sell digestifs.

Financial Success

Experiment with variable margin strategies. Perhaps:

  • Reduce margin on bottles over $75 USD to improve cash-flow.
  • Lower prices on a few accessible mid-price labels to help your staff upsell.

A diverse cellar is useless, if the staff is not trained with a sales strategy. Remember gross profit is a mix of pricing AND total beverage revenue. Have a goal – if beverage (beer, wine, cocktails) is not contributing to at least a third of a restaurant’s revenue and half the profits, the business is not likely to succeed.

Whether you are a wine steward, sommelier, or the restaurant manager/owner… managing beverage is complex. Without training of staff and an overall beverage strategy, a successful and profitable restaurant will be difficult to achieve.

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Filed under Business, Fine Dining, Food Pairing, Wine Industry, Wine Tasting

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