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Feb 15, 2009 02:42 AM

Corkage fee at byob?

One local place, which I won't name yet, caught my eye by having a corkage fee when they have no liquor. Has anyone heard of a byo with a corkage fee before?

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  1. most places that allow byo have corkage fees. the server is opening your bottle, you are using their glasses and not purchasing an item that adds to the restaurant's bottom line.

    you should be more surprised if you find a place that doesn't charge a corkage fee.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      I agree. You are taking up valuable space in their business; the lease they pay is the same whether you byo or not. They open the bottle, pour it, provide the glasses and then clean them. Instead of buying a non-alcohol drink you are bringing something, depriving them of income. They are in business to make money. So please name them; I'll be certain to go there if I deem them otherwise worthy.

    2. Perfectly reasonable. They are allowing the customer to enjoythemselves at the table without the legal ability to serve liquor. It's usually a win-win. The customers enjoys the wine they brought and the restaurant earns just return for the service and the server's tip is increased because of added service and higher bill.

      1. Lots of posts already on the board about this.

        It's perfectly normal.

        1. Quite common and the fee is usually very modest. Places, with liq., licences, that usually charge a large corkage fee, I've seen some as high as $25.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cstr

            as high as $25? I take it you havent been to NYC. SF, LA or MIA lately!?LOL

            1. re: nkeane

              It's standard and modest in my experience for restos that don't have their own booze. I have not seen a corkage fee, nor would I BYOB to a place with a liquor license. THAT's the money maker. Seems tacky to me UNLESS it's a VERY special wine for a VERY special occasion. In which case you should discuss it thoroughly with the management when you make your reservation. And spend boatloads of money on other things.

              1. re: nkeane

                Yah, I've seen some corkages at $3., on the low end, I usually don't bother to BYO in places that have a licence, that's where the fee's escalate. I haven't even looked while in NYC etc. Guess I should look and amuse myself.

                1. re: cstr

                  sorry, I was infering that $25 is extremely low in the cities I cited!

                  I have also seen menus that say "corkage $1000 per 750ml bottle". You have to have some sense of humor to get what they are saying!

                  worst manners regarding a corkage fee I have ever seen: couple asked if they could have their bottle of Pinot Noir opened......AT A WINE BAR.......IN OREGON(otherwise known as one of the great pinot growing areas in the world.) which had something like 40 pinots on their list. Then they of course got angry when they were declined. Takes all kinds.........

            2. For all who believe a corkage fee is reasonable in a BYOB......I am not against the practice, however, I believe (seal) is from New Jersey.......and BYOBs traditionally have never charged a fee before. While there are many BYOBs in the state, personally I never go to BYOBs I find they charge the same for the food as a full service restaurant....and rarely have more than a few ounces of red wine, so the attraction to save a few dollars is not my concern....for those who enjoy BYOBs and find they can enjoy their better wines with their meals......I am happy for you....but it's just not for me......I prefer whiskey, vodka and beer.

              7 Replies
              1. re: fourunder

                But you can bring your whiskey, vodka, or beer to a BYOB too, no? I've never brought hard liquor but I've certainly brought beer and hard cider to BYOB places.

                1. re: BobB

                  We've brought our own tequila to numerous Mexican places.

                  1. re: BobB


                    In the State of New Jersey, BYOBs are classified as any restaurant, with the owner's permission, that allows you to bring in your own alcoholic beverages limited to beer and wine only .. Hard liquor and cordials are not permissible by statute. This is not to say I and others have never practiced bringing in a bottle of vodka or any other hard liquor for our consumption pleasure, before, during or after just are not supposed to. . It's up to the location, whether or not, to let you enjoy them on their premises. Most owners will not object and look the other way, but it has been known to happen. I am also aware that many BYOBs try to circumvent the liquor laws, license purchase and provide beer and wine to their special customers....and are known to provide an after dinner cordial with coffee. It used to be any restaurant could be a BYOB by owners decision even if you were a luncheonette or diner, but there are now some towns that require food establishments to register and pay a license fee for the privilege to be a doubt another way for the local government to penalize the reatauranteur and squeeze money from the public. There is a legal loophole in New Jersey to sell wine without a liquor license for any food establishment. ..... To do so, the establishment must purchase and sell wine only from a licensed winery within the State of New Jersey only, which numbers around 30 from my recollection. Even though Anheuser-Busch has a very prominent brewery in Newark, beer does not receive the same exemption status.

                    The State of New Jersey administrates the liquor laws through The Division of Alcohol Beverage Control.,.. but it's up top the local municipalities police department to enforce any infractions

                    In this attached thread from a while back, liquor laws in the State of New Jersey were explained in some details...and with some reference to the idiosyncracies of our state's policies with regard to liquor laws, the origin of liquor licenses and why they are so expensive to own and difficult to purchase


                  2. re: fourunder

                    This is not a matter of tradition. It is illegal to charge a corkage fee in the Garden State. "The restaurant can supply glasses, ice, etc., but may not impose a cover, corkage or service charge." Source:

                    1. re: WillisWasabi

                      Sorry to disagree, but it is not illegal to charge a corkage fee in New Jersey....provided if you have a Consumption license that is in good standing.

                      What you cite only applies to BYOBs and true, it's coded by statute....but many places have tried to sneak in the cover under the guise of other services....even that dump in Cape May called 410 Bank Street.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Ok which one of my fellow Jersey knuckleheads left the back door on the Jersey board opened? Look what happened, Seal got out and wandered over hear to post, I've told you peeps we gotta stick together , keep an eye out for each other!

                        Nice explanation Four, to simplify it my understanding has been in NJ, you can only profit from the sale -or-consumption of booze if you have a license. Thus, no license no corkage fee, otherwise you are profiting from the consumption of the alcohol in your premises.

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          Very true....I would further add that some BYOBs try to skirt the issue by having Wine Tasting Dinners for X dollar amount for food samples are free. I usually rat these places out and bring it to the attention of ABC enforcement when I see them advertised....who has explained to me these organized events are not permissible. It's also illegal to mention the fact and advertise you are a BYOB. A few years back on, there was someone from a wine club who worked for a wind distributor who promoted these events strictly at BYOs and I told him he should be ashamed of himself for not doing these events at licensed establishments. He was okay with selling his product to license holders,,,,but he was too ignorant to support the very same with these dinner events.