The SOMM Journal

April / May 2017

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78 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2017 { wine list economics } WINE DIRECTORS MAKE GUESTS HAPPY. Wine directors also make restaurants money. At the intersection of happiness and profitability lies the wine list, and it's not so much docu- ment as covenant, the promise of deliciousness for the diner and profits for the partners. In first of this two-part series on wine list development ("It's All in the Mix," The Somm Journal, December-January 2016-17), wine directors shared their strategies for balancing economics with customer value perception. Here we dive deeper into back- office tactics that shore up profitability and guarantee that at the end of the night, everyone goes home happy. FOCUS ON COSTS. "There are people who have been running programs who have no idea how their costs are calculated. Which is stunning to me," says David Glancy, MS, founder and CEO of San Francisco Wine School. He offers a class in Wine Program Management that brings directors up to speed in five days flat. Glancy shares that the national average wine cost for white tablecloth restaurants is 36%, but that figure varies by market. In rural areas you might get away with 40%, but in metro regions you might need to target, say, 29% to offset higher rent, wage and benefit expenses. Cost targets var y up and down a list, too. "Our by-the-glass program offers the highest ROI, with a specific cost percent - age in mind: 25%," says Juan Gomez, MS, of The Breakers in Palm Beach. That figure helps him offset higher cost percent- ages for bottles. To keep overall costs down, Glancy advises taking advantage of end-of-month discounting, vintage closeouts, pallet buys and family plans, especially for popular items. No storage? No problem. Commit to a pallet but take it in three-case deliveries. Hospitality groups can also win better pricing by adding a core set of wines across all lists. Savings can be passed to the customer, winning loyalty. Shawn Westhoven, Beverage Director at the nine-property Newport Restaurant Group in Rhode Island, likes this approach. "We always try to get people to say, 'Wow, I can't believe I'm seeing this wine at less than at a really casual place. How do they do that?'" he says. "We do it because we buy a hundred cases of it and we get the best price." Nitty-Gritty Advice MAKING MONEY AND MAKING GUESTS HAPPY ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE by Meg Houston Maker At Commander's Palace in New Orleans, "Wine Guy" Daniel Davis says, "Hospitality and service is the essence of what we do—and we're very, very lucky to get paid to do it." PHOTO: CHRIS GRANGER

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