As restaurants across Canada adapt to the ‘new normal’, adjusting their operations and menus, it inspiring though also, unsurprising, to see the resilience in our industry. The foodservice industry is often asked to pivot on a dime and make the best of every situation. Two servers called in sick. No problem! That table for 6 is now 8. No worries – we will find space, we will make it happen, we are all in it together.
As restaurants work to adjust to new regulations, one of the rules many restaurants need to adapt to is the ability to deliver wine with food (keep in mind these regulations differ from province to province).
The ability to deliver wine means that consumers have access to a fuller
restaurant experience while at home. Trading the “seat at the bar” at your favorite restaurant for your favourite seat on the couch is no longer a downgrade. Customers can enjoy a curated experience at their kitchen tables while supporting their favorite spots.
The ability to increase sales, raise guest check averages, and make it possible to contribute to operations costs by adding in wine sales is a massive opportunity. Not only for restaurateurs but for everyone else down the chain. Liquidating held inventory is a great way to inject cash into your business during these lean times.
If you are contemplating adding wine to your takeout/delivery menu, here are some points to consider:
Capitalize on a niche market
The LCBO carries a curated selection of wine, but restaurants have always had the unique ability to offer options not seen on LCBO shelves. Your existing list packed with everything from classics wines to natural productions, cheap and cheerful options, and high-quality back vintages is now a treasure trove of wine styles dinners are used to drinking. A lot of these selections also have limited retail presence, thus making them more attractive.
The prices of these products may vary, wine lovers, collectors and sommeliers alike see the benefit and chance to have amazing bottles on their tables or in their cellars. This is also a great opportunity to liquidate slow-moving or stagnate stock through discounting, packaged deals, specials, and features.
Although wine lovers across the city are stuck at home, they know value when they see it. When stock levels do begin to run low, remember that great wines are being made in our own backyard. Ontario wineries are still running, and this is an excellent source for new products and a way to support our local wine industry further.
Offer bottles at a discount
No matter what products you sell, it is highly recommended to offer your to-go wine list at a discount. Either half-priced, marked down, or near retail pricing are all good options. The standard markups to achieve cost of goods is an idea better explained to consumers when restaurants are operating at full service. Discounted price is a way to maintain guest loyalty and continue the inhouse experience at home.
However, this does not mean that you need to discount your list evenly across the board. Some markdowns might be suited better to certain products rather than others. Items that you have good stock of could be offered at a larger discount, while rare and prized selection at a little bit less.
Lead with value and let your guests choose the experience.
No matter the discount strategy you chose above all, it is crucial to communicate your newly discounted prices to your customer base. With more people spending time on social media, posting about slashed bottle prices is a great way to get the word out.
Break down the barriers on your wine list
Through social media, you have a captive audience where you can start telling the stories behind your wine selections. Tell your customers about your wines and why they are here. Do not miss out on the opportunity for connection and engagement, because while you are not standing by their table you are present on their couch.
It is no lie that a picture is worth 1000 words but making a compelling post that explains a wine’s aromas, flavours, and textures can better communicate to your customers what they can expect in the glass.
This initiative from the Ontario government to allow guests to buy wine with takeout or delivery is available until the end of December. This a great opportunity to do what we do best, pivot, and offer a different but still personal guest experience.