Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
May 13, 2010 07:44 AM

Which US states and Canadian provinces have Quebec-style BYOB-only restaurants?

From a liquor-consumption standpoint, there are three categories of restaurants here in Quebec.

1. Restaurants without a permit. No alcoholic beverages may be consumed at these establishments.

2. Restaurants with a permit to sell alcoholic beverages, aka licensed restaurants. These establishments purchase alcoholic beverages and sell them by the glass, carafe or bottle. With one tiny exception, they are not allowed to offer corkage (i.e. no BYOB).

3. Restaurants with a permit to serve alcoholic beverages, aka BYOs. These establishments cannot sell alcoholic beverages but can serve wine (and, if the restaurant so chooses, beer, sake and cider, though not spirits) that patrons bring. And while they aren't forbidden from charging a corkage fee, next to none do. BYOs are hugely popular here. There are hundreds in Montreal, including some with excellent food and fairly posh decors.

A translator friend is working on the program for a conference to be held in Montreal this summer. In it, she finds the claim that BYOBs are a "concept unique au Qu├ębec" (a concept unique to Quebec), which she suspects is untrue.

I know that Massachusetts allows BYOB at unlicensed restaurants. And Ontario opened the door to BYOB a few years ago (not exactly clear on the details, however). So there's her answer, I guess. But I'm also left wondering whether any jurisdiction other than Quebec has a separate licensing category for BYOBs or if that truly is a concept unique to this province. Does anybody know?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. New Jersey has many BYOB restaurants. They do not sell wine or other liquor, but will serve it if you bring your own. I believe it is because there is a fixed number of liquor licenses available, so a new restaurant is more or less out of luck unless 'someone dies". I don't recall ever seeing corkage charged at such places.

    Actually just found this on gov't website: Unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it, customers of an unlicensed restaurant may be permitted by the ownership of the restaurant to bring and consume only wine and beer. The restaurant can supply glasses, ice, etc., but may not impose a cover, corkage or service charge. Also, under no circumstances may spirituous liquor be permitted. There may be no advertising whatsoever of the fact that wine or beer may be permitted. Additionally, the owner may not permit wine or beer to be consumed during hours in which the sale of these products is prohibited by licensees in that municipality, nor allow consumption of beer or wine by persons under the age of 21 years or by persons who are actually or apparently drunk or intoxicated. (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-27).

    1 Reply
    1. re: DGresh

      Yes, definitely NJ - and some of the best restaurants in the state are BYO. I've eaten at many, and have never been charged corkage, nor would I expect to at a purely BYO restaurant; I assume the food price takes any related wine service costs into account.

    2. New York City has BYOB restaurants, restaurants that serve beer and wine but no hard liquor, and restaurants that serve alcohol but also allow you to bring your own wine and pay a corkage fee. Here's a list of some of the BYOB places. if you're interested.

      P.S. Thanks for your helpful posts on the Quebec board. I just spent a few days in Montreal, and I ate very well.

      1. Minnesota...

        All three exist, with one exception to what you outlined...Establishments that are licensed to sell have the option whether or not they wish to permit BYO.

        If you go to the West Coast Wine Network (, there is a Sticky thread on one of the boards (either Travel or General) where people have posted BYO lawas of nearly every U.S. state. Don't know about Canadian provinces.

        1. I am going to a Turkish restaurant in South Fl tonight which is BYO

          1. I remember a lovely supper at a byob Asian restaurant in Boston eons ago - I'd have been considered "underage" according to current US law. We just went out and bought some wine. Not up on current Massachusetts rules.