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May 28, 2010 08:18 PM

Restaurant Alba, who is the idiot

Please give me a vote on who is the idiot here. Went a few times to restaurant Alba in Malvern when they were a BYOB, and always had a lovely meal. Went tonight after they decided to have a bar but still allowed BYOB with corkage. Went with four people and four bottles of wine. Paid the corkage as expected, but when asked for red wine glasses were given pretty junky glasses. We noted that other tables had better glassware, as they did, and were told by staff and owner that these were finer more expensive glasses reserved for those who ordered wines from their list, versus those who brought their own wine as permitted. All of a sudden l was a second class patron and felt f----ed on. Who is right here.owner or me?

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  1. You are right. Even if they do have two separate sets of glassware, one for people who BYO and one for people who buy off the list (which is something I've never seen before), for them to actually *tell* you that is unbelievable.

    8 Replies
      1. re: invinotheresverde

        Why tell the customer that? It serves no purpose other than to say "well, we don't think people who BYO are worth nice glassware". It fosters bad feelings on both sides. If they're trying to get people to buy off the list, they should make the corkage fee higher, or just disallow BYO entirely.

        1. re: Buckethead

          We have two tiers of glassware for guests at my work. The better glasses are only for bottles purchased that cost $75 and over. People don't seem to have a problem with it. This doesn't seem much different to me.

          1. re: invinotheresverde

            I don't have a problem with the two sets of glassware, it's the way they related that info to the customer (in the most annoying way possible), which, though I didn't witness it, obviously made Delucacheesemonger feel like s/he was being treated poorly. Making your customers feel like they're being treated poorly is not good for business.

            1. re: Buckethead

              "it's the way they related that info to the customer..."

              What, by telling them the truth? He/she felt he was being treated poorly because he didn't get his way.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                No, because wasn't treated equally. They encouraged BYOB then treated one differently after they made the rules. Why is it 'my way', all l wanted was all to be equal.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  In the OP..." they decided to have a bar but still allowed BYOB with corkage," as well as "versus those who brought their own wine as permitted", note the words "allowed" and "permitted" it has changed to "encouraged?" Please...noone encourages people bringing in a bottle from outside. Oh and then you brought not one, not two, not three but FOUR bottles of your own stuff? What, you could not bring three and order one to be a good customer? Nope, you told them not one bottle on their list was worth ordering.

                  Sorry you were wrong in bringing four bottle of wine for four people to a place that has made a business decision to start selling wine. You should have been a better customer, or should jfood say and equal customer and order a bottle of wine off the wine list like the other customers obviously did. You did not want equality you wanted special.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    You're not equal, though.

                    Those others purchased wine from the restaurant. You did not, you brought in four bottles of wine for four people (which I think is unbelievably tacky, but that's a thread for another post) to a restaurant that sells wine. You didn't even buy a bottle of bubbles or white from them to begin the evening. If you did, I bet they'd have had no problem giving you the better glassware.

      2. meh...this seems like a pretty innocuous way to make the transition from BYOB to bar service. If you like the place then you want it to stay open right? And even with alcohol most restaurants are barely staying afloat. And since alcohol is the only thing that restaurants can sell that has a decent profit margin the owners probably want you to just buy alcohol from them. Not because they're mean greedy people, but because they're trying to stay in business because they like what they do, and you like what they do, and you want a drink with your food, and so hey, why not just buy it from them?
        But it can be awkward going from BYOB to full bar without being all "now you have to buy it from us"
        Sooooo....was your food or service in any other way "second class"?
        No? Then you're not being "f----ed on", you're being subtly, very subtly, hinted to. So take the hint or continue to perform a second class act (bringing your own booze to a place that sells booze) and expect to be second class treatment (at least as far as glasses are concerned, which isn't that big of a deal)
        Good luck!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mary McChugalug

          The wording is a little strong but I have to fully agree with Mary.

          1. re: Mary McChugalug

            First, I've said it before and I'll say it again (and probably again): because of its liquor laws, NJ has an unusual number of BYO's, including several of the best restaurants in the state. Somehow they manage to be successful and profitable without selling alcohol or even charging corkage. I don't buy the argument that alchol is necessary for profitability.

            Second, if the restaurant has decided to permit corkage without any additional restrictions (e.g., only wines not on their list, 2 bottle limit, etc.), I'd say they have an obligation to treat a corkage customer just as well as a customer who's buying a bottle from the restaurant.

            As I understand it, the corkage fee is in part to comp the restaurant for your non-purchase of their offerings and to cover the cost of wine service. That service should be just as good as any other customer's. If their corkage policy is not sufficient to allow that, then the restaurant should either (a) limit corkage, (b) charge a higher fee, or (c) eliminate it completely - all of which is entirely up to them.

            IMO, the OP's party was treated inappropriately. They followed the restaurant's rules and were given inferior service. There's no justification for that, IMO.

          2. What kind of glasses did they use prior to having the bar? If they got the new glasses when they got the liquor license and you had been drinking out of the cheap ones back in the byo-only days, it does seem a little silly to complain. OTOH, a good service policy would make the nicer glasses available to byo guests if they noticed the difference and asked to switch.

            1 Reply
            1. re: babette feasts

              I think this totally makes sense. The nicer glasses are probably a hell of a lot more fragile, and more expensive to replace.Since the restaurant doesn't make as much money off people bringing their own wine, I can see why they would want to use less expensive, more durable glasses.

              They could have perhaps stated it a little differently, but there is nothing wrong with that at all. It's akin to using the better glasses for more expensive wines ordered off their own menu and the regular ones for the less expensive wines.

            2. jfood is not a wine drinker so he is giving his opinion as such.

              Jfood does not understand the vitriol or the "second class citizen" comment at all. You brought wine thereby almost telling the restaurant either their wine list was second class, or you did not want to pay what many have said are way too high mark-up.

              Jfood thinks you are not an idiot but taking this situation waaaay too seriously. You had a good meal, with the wine you wanted and now the glasses are an issue.

              Don;t sweat the small stuff.

              1. IMO, paying corkage fee should make you the "same" as other clients who pay wine from they restaurant's list.