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Feb 1, 2010 08:32 PM

BYOB restaurants of New Mexico [ moved from Southwest board]

The Department of Rules & Regulations, Alcohol & Gaming Division, The State of New Mexico, Office of the Director, Santa Fe, has confirmed that licensed restaurants are permitted to have patrons bring their own wine to their restaurant. Since 1981, the department has been wrongly informing the public, restaurant owners, and the instructor of NM mandatory alcohol beverage server certification classes that it is an offense for all restaurants to allow patrons to BYOB. The rule only states that unlicensed restaurants are not permitted to have patrons drink their own wine on premise. Since this written rule has just been shown to the department's director, it's very likely that all licensed restaurants will disagree. That's because not one licensed restaurant has read the rules for operating a licensed rtestaurant. They have clearly been told by the department that only wines they purchased for their place of business can be in the restaurant. And that inspectors can look for wine labels in the restaurant not having a receipt of purchase, resulting in an offense.
The question is, what have restaurant owners in New Mexico been thinking? What's more, aren't lawyers - if retained - by restaurant owners applying for a license to sell wine reading the licensing rules of New Mexico? The fact is, they are filed in a reference code binder on a shelf for the public to read in the main library of Santa Fe. They are also available at the front desk of the Rules & Regulation Department, One can also read the rules and regulations on the internet. The rules & regulations are probably in main libraries of cities and reference libraries of universities of New Mexico.
David Pachman

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  1. If the question is: "what have restaurant owners in New Mexico been thinking?"
    I've got an idea...
    Maybe " Hmmm, I can allow customers to bring in their own wine and only pay a $20 corkage fee, not tip the waitstaff, and I don't get to sell them wine I bought, to have available for my customers to purchase, at 300% markup???"
    In most restarants I have worked in, the food on the menu either breaks even or even loses money! It's the wine and spirits, and their markup, that keeps most places afloat.
    Why would restaurant owners volunteer to get hosed by customers, bringing their own booze, and not buying the highest margin products that are sold?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Salt_ofthe_Earth

      Patrons bring wine to restaurants; they do not bring booze. The letters BYOB is shorthand for bring your own bottle. Sometimes you may see BYOW, a reference to wine.
      You should understand that the repeal of Prohibition in the U.S.was to permit wine to also be produced and sold to the public for enjoyment. Our lawmakers did not make a law that you - the restaurant owner - in the future had to be licensed. Today, you still have a choice. I suspect that you are confused about the premise to BYOB. I suggest that you read about BYOB in other states, travel, and talk with well traveled, knowing, wine enthusiast restaurant patrons who bring their own wine to restaurants. They are not taking away profits from anybody. They are not BYOB every night of the week, nor is every restaurant seeking diners who have top wine collections, special bottles, unusual bottlings. Though, it is very important for you to understand that restaurants have been allowing even no corkage fee to patrons on select nights around the country for over the past five years. The idea is to have more tables filled, giving all diners a good feeling of dining in a room that is not empty. Restaurants that are doing this are operated by very savvy owners who are also sophisticated. It's all about having BYOB patrons become regulars. Restaurant owners do not have much to say about tipping, so I'd suggest that they have a written (suggested) policy for BYOB tipping. You may want to read on the internet ( Food & Wine magazine, Wall St. Journal) what wine journalists recommend on this subject. When restaurants in New Mexico begin to serve exciting, exceptional cuisine, then a corkage fee of ten dollars may be acceptable. After all, if restaurants inventoried fewer wine selections for ordinary cuisine,employed chefs with a sure hand, and marked up wines with an intelligent approach to menu prices, they would be much better patronized, and recognized - everyday.

      1. re: davidesign

        Can you direct me to source of your information? I would like to be able to reference the source.

        1. re: davidesign

          David, your post is very subjective. You may want to speak for yourself, instead of trying to be the voice of restaurateurs everywhere. It boils down to money. If an owner believes he can make more money offering BYOB, he will do it. If he doesn't believe he can, he won't. I recently moved out of a state that allowed BYOB. Almost no restaurants offered it, as, like Salt mentioned above, food profits are slim. The most money is made through alcohol and wine sales. Also, lots of people try to take advantage of BYOB policies.

          BYOB is a priviledge, not a right, and there is some decorum involved. You don't bring in a crappy bottle, nor do you bring in something already on the restaurant's wine list. If your waiter services your wine properly, you leave extra gratuity. You do not bring in ten bottles for four people, and buying something off the list is always a polite gesture. You don't ask to have corkage waived.

          Are you implying that owners who don't offer BYOB are unsavvy and unsophiticated? And who are you to dictate that a ten dollar corkage may be acceptable, but only depending on "exciting, exceptional cuisine"? I'm interested in your qualifications to be speaking for the entire state.

      2. This information is not quite accurate. Although BYOB is not prohibitted by law, the AGD continues to tell restaurateurs that BYOB is not permitted.

        I don't know where you got your information. AGD has not changed any
        laws regarding these issues. BYOB is still not permitted. Licensees
        are required to obtain their products from a licensed New Mexico
        wholesaler and must be able to provide invoices for all alcohol on their
        premises. How would they be able to comply if patrons brought their

        Why would licensees want to allow this practice? It would make it much
        more difficult for licensees to cut off people who are becoming
        intoxicated or who are allowing minors to drink. The licensee would
        remain liable for any violations of State law.

        Liquor is a controlled substance and just because a practice is not
        specifically disallowed should not be construed to mean that it is
        legal. If it is not allowed in law, be safe and don't do it.

        Gary Tomada, Director
        Alcohol and Gaming Division