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Would you go to a restaurant that doesn't serve beer, wine or any alcohol

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butterfl Sep 6, 2010 08:34 PM

I have some friends that are looking into opening a restaurant but they can't get a liquor license of any kind for the location. I told them out right that I didn't think they could survive but I told them I would do some research. Anyone have any thoughts??? The concept was order at the counter American comfort food and they are great cooks!!!!

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  1. b
    burlgurl RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 08:42 PM

    I for one can say that I went to an Indian restaurant without knowing they didn't have an alcohol license...i was pretty disappointed to not have a beer with my food, and would choose another place next time for sure!

    1. p
      Philly Ray RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 08:47 PM

      In Philadelphia, there is a strong BYOB restaurant culture that is the product of Pennsylvania's archaic liquor laws. I don't know if California would permit it, but it sounds like it would be a new concept if they did.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Philly Ray
        monku RE: Philly Ray Sep 6, 2010 08:54 PM

        In the state of California if you don't have a liquor license BYOB is against the law.

        1. re: Philly Ray
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          barryg RE: Philly Ray Sep 6, 2010 08:59 PM

          Yes this is common in Philly and New Jersey and many of the best restaurants do not have liquor licenses. Besides BYOB with no corkage fee, another tactic is to give "complementary" wine as part of a meal. Since the alcohol was not really sold, the license is not necessary.

          But even if you cannot do BYOB or the give away under Cali law, it's not crazy for a casual place to not serve liquor, especially for lunch. It might be a tougher go at dinner.

          I have also been to some spots run by devout Muslims which could be BYOB in theory but alcohol is not permitted by the owners. Again, they are casual restaurants.

        2. Ruth Lafler RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 08:48 PM

          Absolutely! I think for a casual place like that it would be okay. Even better if they offer some sophisticated specialty non-alcoholic beverages.

          1. cookingasshole RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 08:54 PM

            I don't even like going out to breakfast if they don't have liquor

            3 Replies
            1. re: cookingasshole
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              lmnopm RE: cookingasshole Sep 6, 2010 08:56 PM

              There is a place near home that we would frequent more if they had a beer/wine license. We were doing take out but the take out experience was getting pretty bad.

              1. re: cookingasshole
                hyacinthgirl RE: cookingasshole Sep 7, 2010 03:31 PM

                +1

                1. re: cookingasshole
                  mariacarmen RE: cookingasshole Oct 5, 2010 07:36 PM

                  i heart you.

                2. monku RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 08:55 PM

                  Depending on the restaurant (size and volume and other factors) a liquor license can bring a significant profit to the bottom line and be the difference between profit and loss.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: monku
                    coney with everything RE: monku Sep 8, 2010 05:41 AM

                    Yeah, the liquor markup is significant and makes or breaks a lot of restos, IMO.

                    My DH is a fan of beer w/lunch so that is a factor in any decision.

                  2. Euonymous RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 09:01 PM

                    My only concern would be that the location might be bad for a casual restaurant. For this kind of endeavor, I think you need lots of street traffic with people who are willing to pay for food. If they can't get a liquor license I'd be worried about the quality of the neighborhood. Is it OK?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Euonymous
                      monku RE: Euonymous Sep 6, 2010 09:08 PM

                      One reason why they can't get a liquor license is it might be to close to a school or church.

                      Now that I think about it a "order at the counter" American comfort food restaurant would basically only serve beer and wine by the glass. The higher alcohol profits are in mixed drinks and higher mark up bottles of wine.
                      Then it's "order at the counter" and they will save money on labor for servers.

                    2. a
                      Atahualpa RE: butterfl Sep 6, 2010 11:41 PM

                      I regularly dine out in restaurants without licenses. Lack of liquor license would not deter me.

                      1. n
                        nocharge RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 01:30 AM

                        If it's purely a lunch place, it would probably be OK. And there are examples of "gourmet" burger places with a diner-like ambience that have been successful without serving alcohol. However, for a more general restaurant open for dinner, it would probably make for a bit of an uphill battle. Without alcohol, you lose both that beverage revenue and (possibly considerable) food revenue from customers who won't come in since they can't have a beer with their dinner. The restaurant industry is pretty tough -- some say the failure rate for new restaurants is 1 in 4 for the first year and that less than 50 percent make it through 3 years. Given that, it would probably improve your friends' odds of success if they could find a space where they could serve alcohol.

                        BTW, you say your friends are "great cooks." Are they professional cooks working in the restaurant business or just great home cooks?

                        1. MGZ RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 04:46 AM

                          The "order at the counter American comfort food" is more likely to keep me away than the lack of liquor license. The combination, however, leaves the place without any redeeming quality.

                          1. h
                            Harters RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 07:02 AM

                            I know a number of places without an alcohol licence. Some are OK with BYO. Others, usually for religious/cultural reasons, do not permit alcohol on the premises. It's a very competitive market in one particular neighbourhood and I ccan't detect any difference in customer numbers - although the booze and no-booze places probably have a different customer base. I don't drink alcohol so am happy to make my decisions based on food (although my partner does prefer booze to no-booze places)

                            1. t
                              tastesgoodwhatisit RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 07:55 AM

                              I would have no problem going to a restaurant with no alcohol, in general. I've actually visited places that didn't allow alcohol or meat, and had good food. It would depend a bit on the type of restaurant though - if it's more of a get-together with friends kind of thing being able to order a drink would be more tempting.

                              If they don't serve alcohol, then having a variety of interesting non-alcoholic drinks would be a must.

                              In general

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
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                                barryg RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Sep 7, 2010 08:08 AM

                                It's true, I think the profit margin on some of the crazy drinks you can get at Vietnamese restaurants, for example, have profit margins as good as beer and wine.

                                1. re: barryg
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                                  ospreycove RE: barryg Sep 7, 2010 08:13 AM

                                  In general, maintained mark-up on beer/wine is always superior to the MMU of food.

                                  1. re: ospreycove
                                    MGZ RE: ospreycove Sep 7, 2010 08:48 AM

                                    Yeah, and they're talking about coupling that with no wait staff and food you can make at home. The faddish popularity of which peaked a couple years ago and which many can't wait to see disappear altogether. Please, Sir, no more mac-n-cheese . . .

                              2. c
                                cheesemaestro RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 09:17 AM

                                With all due respect to other posters, I would be wary of drawing any conclusions from a poll on CH. People here are from everywhere, while what is most relevant is what local diners will find attractive in the particular place where this restaurant would be located. More information would also be helpful.

                                Where is the location? Big city? Small city? Suburbs? Rural area?

                                Is comfort food something that a lot of people living in the area would want to eat when they go out?

                                What's the competition like? Are there are other places nearby with a similar menu? Are there many other restaurants within a short distance?

                                Why can't the restaurant get a liquor license? In a bad area? In a municipality that is "dry"? Because liquor licenses are already maxed out for the area?

                                I wouldn't dismiss the possibility of the restaurant making a go of things without a liquor license without knowing more. I do agree with others that ordering at the counter is an issue. People may put up with that for lunch, but for dinner, customers generally want table service.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cheesemaestro
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                                  Philly Ray RE: cheesemaestro Sep 7, 2010 10:41 AM

                                  In all fairness, this post started out on the San Francisco board, but it seems that the mods moved it here for some reason.

                                2. monku RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 10:00 AM

                                  It's one thing to be "great cooks" and another to run a profitable restaurant. A big investment of money and time. I
                                  I saw a friend plow through $300,000 in a year trying to make it in the restaurant biz. He had experience, good location, liquor license and it was when the economy was good. His downfall was very low margins and not enough volume of customers.

                                  1. jfood RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 10:09 AM

                                    don't drink, doesn't matter

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jfood
                                      bagelman01 RE: jfood Sep 7, 2010 12:52 PM

                                      seldom drink, doesn't matter

                                      1. re: jfood
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                                        joe777cool RE: jfood Sep 9, 2010 09:42 PM

                                        +1

                                        If the food is good enough, it doesnt matter. Many of the smaller, specifically ethnic places, we visit dont carry any alcohol. SOunds like the place may do a big take-out business, so it really doesnt matter

                                      2. limster RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 11:02 AM

                                        If the food is delicious, it's fine for me.

                                        1. l
                                          lemons RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 11:52 AM

                                          I'm sort of shocked by the original question. Lots of places have no liquor licenses and still manage to turn a profit. It is indeed dependent on many factors. Perhaps my comfort with it is because I grew up in a "dry" county. But I've eaten widely since that time on four continents and in leventy-seven time zones and I can't ever recall that being a factor in our decision.

                                          OTOH, I do recall an adult male with whom I was in college as what I used to call a "change of life student", refusing to go to a late-a.m. party one of our very young instructors was throwing for us as the Christmas break began because he knew she wouldn't serve alcohol and a party wasn't worth the trip if there wasn't alcohol. I was always very fond of him, but I am sorry to say that years later he died of liver disease.

                                          Obsessing about that sort of thing much, folks?

                                          And, yes, I do drink, wine liquor, a little beer, and I enjoy it. I just spent too much time in hospitals not to be aware of potential problems.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: lemons
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                                            LeoLioness RE: lemons Sep 7, 2010 01:36 PM

                                            Alcohol (or lack thereof) have certainly been a part of a decision of whether or not to dine in a restaurant for my group of friends and me. Certain meals for us, be they celebratory or a pick-me-up for one person--require some drinks.

                                            The idea that this makes me next on the liver transplant list is pretty funny.

                                            1. re: LeoLioness
                                              invinotheresverde RE: LeoLioness Sep 10, 2010 07:24 AM

                                              Agreed.

                                              There are some situations, and some cuisines, that "require" alcohol for us and some that don't.

                                              Hole in the wall Vietnamese? No booze. Spicy Indian? Beer, please. Quick salad at lunch? No sauce. Anything Italian? Wine, please. Something casual will probably have me drinking water or iced tea, but anything else and there will most likely be cocktails, etc.
                                              I also don't think this means I need to rush to a 12 step meeting. Many types of alcohol compliment food in a way that no other beverage can.

                                              1. re: invinotheresverde
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                                                Harters RE: invinotheresverde Sep 10, 2010 08:29 AM

                                                "Many types of alcohol compliment food in a way that no other beverage can."

                                                It gets so that I was up to ten meals a day.

                                                1. re: Harters
                                                  invinotheresverde RE: Harters Sep 10, 2010 10:18 AM

                                                  Minus the food. ;)

                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                    h
                                                    Harters RE: invinotheresverde Sep 10, 2010 12:04 PM

                                                    Yeah - I was dieting so I cut out the food. LOL.

                                                    Not a drop in the last 10.5 years though. Not sure I feel any better for it.

                                                    1. re: Harters
                                                      invinotheresverde RE: Harters Sep 10, 2010 12:11 PM

                                                      I've been sober for the past few months (pregnancy) and all I can say is it stinks! ;)

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                        h
                                                        Harters RE: invinotheresverde Sep 10, 2010 02:41 PM

                                                        Trust me - it gets no more enjoyable but you do get used it.

                                          2. j
                                            jeanmarieok RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 11:56 AM

                                            I would select this restaurant for myself, but not for a group. When I dine with friends, we expect to share a bottle of wine, or other drink as part of the socialization.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jeanmarieok
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                                              nocharge RE: jeanmarieok Sep 7, 2010 01:14 PM

                                              Another aspect of dining with a group of friends is that it usually only takes one or two in the group to veto a particular restaurant for whatever reason (no vegetarian options, doesn't serve beer, etc.). So one or two beer drinkers in the group may well steer the entire group away from the restaurant without a liquor license even if half the people in the group would have been OK with eating there.

                                            2. m
                                              Muskrat RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 12:05 PM

                                              As I seldom drink -- and certainly not at inflated bar/restaurant prices -- it makes no difference to me.

                                              If I were paying more attention, I might consider whether the liquor income helps keep the food prices down; but I'd doubt that it does.

                                              1. prunefeet RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 12:10 PM

                                                I'm a drinker but I would absolutely go to a place that didn't serve alcohol.

                                                1. Withnail42 RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 01:33 PM

                                                  I'd go.

                                                  1. s
                                                    smartie RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 02:30 PM

                                                    I'd go but I would want to know up ahead so they had better forewarn customers

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: smartie
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                                                      ospreycove RE: smartie Sep 7, 2010 02:40 PM

                                                      Of all the restaurants that do not serve alcohol, and have a menu of Mac and cheese and other assorted "American Comfort Food",( How I dislike that hackneyed phrase); the ones that seem to be successful are owned and staffed by little pudgy ladies in long dresses with bonnets and braided hair, and men with beards, black pants and hats, purple shirts and drive horse and buggys.

                                                    2. s
                                                      small h RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 05:24 PM

                                                      For lunch, sure. If I could bring my own beer or wine for dinner, sure. If I were just popping in for a quick bite en route to somewhere else and treating the place like a diner or a fast food place, sure. Otherwise, probably not.

                                                      1. Vetter RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 06:06 PM

                                                        I'd eat there happily if the food was good. That said, I thought restaurants lived and died by their booze markups.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: Vetter
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                                                          nocharge RE: Vetter Sep 7, 2010 11:03 PM

                                                          I think it's possibly much, much worse than just missing out on the booze markup. Any issue that would turn off even a relatively small fraction of the potential customers could have a much larger impact on a restaurant's economy than it would seem. Let's consider a very hypothetical and simplistic example of a restaurant that is about to open and could potentially attract a certain number of diners per day. Let's say that the diners fall into six different categories: solo diners, members of parties of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 and assume that the potential diners are evenly divided between the categories.

                                                          Now, say that as it opens, this restaurant turns out to have a weakness -- no alcohol, lack of vegetarian options, or something like that -- that's unacceptable to 20 percent of the potential customers and prevents them from becoming actual customers.

                                                          Also assume that any group of people deciding on where to go out for dinner will always pick a restaurant that is acceptable to every member of the group. That is, unless the group is made up exclusively from the 80 percent of the potential customers that find the weakness acceptable, the entire group will end up dining elsewhere.

                                                          If the people that object to the weakness are randomly distributed among the parties of potential guests, the fraction of solo diners that will end up eating at the restaurant is 0.8, the fraction of parties of two is 0.8^2, the fraction of parties of three is 0.8^3, etc. If we add it up, less than half of the potential customers will end up becoming actual customers just because of the weakness. That's a pretty expensive revenue hit for a weakness that the vast majority of potential customers find acceptable.

                                                          Bottom line: better find a location where you can get a liquor license and make sure you have some decent vegetarian dishes on the menu.

                                                          1. re: nocharge
                                                            limster RE: nocharge Sep 7, 2010 11:22 PM

                                                            The argument for turning off vast majority of potential customers rests on the 80:20 ratio. If that ratio was 1:99, the numbers would be very different. Moreover, if the objectors were against alcohol, rather than against no alcohol, the numbers would also be different. Those numbers and objector types will vary dramatically from place to place depending on cultural/religious makeup. There's too many assumptions than can be realised and thus, I don't think the conclusions are generalisable.

                                                            1. re: limster
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                                                              nocharge RE: limster Sep 7, 2010 11:43 PM

                                                              The example and numbers where obviously completely hypothetical, but the basic point remains and it has nothing specifically to do with either alcohol or religion: If people go out as a group, they typically want to make sure that everyone is onboard with a restaurant decision. So some issue that's unacceptable to just one member of a larger group can have a disproportionate impact on the restaurant's revenue by triggering the entire group to go elsewhere. That's why steakhouses typically will have a fish dish on the menu so that the person in the party who doesn't eat red meat can still go there. Or why the seafood place will have a steak on the menu so that the meat enthusiast in the group will accept going there. It's just common sense in the restaurant business.

                                                              1. re: nocharge
                                                                limster RE: nocharge Sep 8, 2010 12:48 AM

                                                                >>So some issue that's unacceptable to just one member of a larger group can have a disproportionate impact on the restaurant's revenue by triggering the entire group to go elsewhere.

                                                                If 0.00001% made a disproportionate impact, it doesn't matter. If 20% did, it would matter. It depends on the numbers as to whether that is sufficient to make an impact on the restaurant. McDonald's doesn't always sell alcohol, (and have lots of issues that many different groups could raise) yet it does pretty well revenue-wise. In scenarios where the fraction of objectors among potential customers is very low, it may not matter at all.

                                                                The other issue is potential pool of customers. If the pool is large, even if a restaurant would be acceptable only to a small percentage of customers, it can do fine. For example, places that cost >$200 for a meal -- most people can't afford it, and therefore an even small percentage of groups won't go there. But many places like these are quite in demand, because 1% of a very big number is still a fairly big number, and sometime beyond what the restaurant can handle anyway.

                                                                Also, the size of the impact may not be as disproportionate, if groups tend to be homogenous.

                                                                1. re: nocharge
                                                                  q
                                                                  queencru RE: nocharge Sep 8, 2010 04:06 AM

                                                                  I don't think your example really applies, because alcohol drinkers are presumably not drinking alcohol as their only beverage during the day. Yes, there are some people who absolutely won't go to a restaurant unless it serves alcohol, but I'd imagine that those are a very small minority of people. I think of counter service restaurants as more of lunch destinations anyway, so that will wipe out the need for alcohol as many cannot drink during work hours.

                                                                  When were talking about non-American food, plenty of people are going to find that type of food "too exotic" and not want to go there, but a restaurant isn't going to choose to do American-style food just because it doesn't have universal appeal. No restaurant is going to have universal appeal, so there's no reason to try to work toward that goal.

                                                                  1. re: queencru
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                                                                    nocharge RE: queencru Sep 9, 2010 12:12 AM

                                                                    Agree that for a lunch place, alcohol it's not a big issue and I said that in my very first post in this thread. However, if the intended restaurant was a lunch place, would this thread even have been created? Without more information about the proposed venture, we are just going to be arguing about generalities.

                                                                    As for the "very small minority of people" argument, I just argued that a small minority can have a disproportionate effect on revenue due to how groups work.

                                                                    The point is that anything that creates a handicap for a new restaurant is a bad idea if it can be avoided given the cutthroat nature of the restaurant business. So unless proposed location has some magic advantages that would more than make up for the lack of a liquor license, go with a different location.

                                                                    1. re: nocharge
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                                                                      soupkitten RE: nocharge Sep 9, 2010 08:53 AM

                                                                      maybe the op should check out proximity to local AA chapters ;-P

                                                                      1. re: soupkitten
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                                                                        ospreycove RE: soupkitten Sep 9, 2010 09:36 AM

                                                                        Soup..........................Friends of Bill W."

                                                                        1. re: ospreycove
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                                                                          soupkitten RE: ospreycove Sep 9, 2010 09:53 AM

                                                                          oh. . . right. sorry bout that :)

                                                                          srsly though, i was reading industry material that the sf area is currently losing restaurants at almost twice the rates as most all other areas of the country.

                                                                          this would seem to mean 1) proceed with extreme caution 2) if you choose to ignore 1) --well then, you should have a crapload of existing restaurant locations in the area to choose from. many that would probably be zoned for lq license, many that would include lq license in the sale. and maybe even they'll throw in the patio furniture. so again, why the insistence on the one, seemingly undesirable, location? do they already own a retail storefront? do they not know how expensive a to-code restaurant buildout is? why not shop around for a more ideal location? *hint* if it seems like it's all just too much work, you're probably just not ready.

                                                          2. iluvtennis RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 06:24 PM

                                                            If the food is good, I will be there!

                                                            1. g
                                                              glowworm RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                              I would go but I think it would be an uphill battle since you would lose out on alcohol profits. For a fast/casual place I don't think it would be a deal-breaker though. I don't think I've ever thought about ordering alcohol at "Catfish Pad" or "Blue Plate Diner" types of places. But then I don't drink beer and that would likely be the most popular alcohol at a casual comfort food place.

                                                              1. h
                                                                hsk RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 07:02 PM

                                                                Lots of order-at-the-counter places don't have a liquor license. It's not like a table service restaurant where a lot of people (including me) might not come quite so regularly. They should focus on the food and definitely offer takeout and I'm sure they'll do fine.

                                                                1. Veggo RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 07:07 PM

                                                                  Why did they choose a bad location?

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                                    monku RE: Veggo Sep 8, 2010 07:03 PM

                                                                    Who said it was a bad location?

                                                                    1. re: monku
                                                                      Veggo RE: monku Sep 8, 2010 07:24 PM

                                                                      A good location would allow a liquor license. I meant "bad" as in bad for business not to be able to have one.

                                                                  2. s
                                                                    soupkitten RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 09:39 PM

                                                                    yes, i go to halal restaurants on a regular basis. if you insist on booze with every meal you miss out on lots of good food.

                                                                    that said, the boston market chain exists in the s.f. area. if the friends are competing with this well-funded chain, with identical service model and similar menu, no lq. . . they better have their suppliers in order, and be able to trounce the competition on quality (in a way that's immediately obvious to first time, average joe customers)--or else be able & prepared to beat b.m.'s prices by 20%, or so. or both. but let me guess, they have no idea what they're doing.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                                                      susancinsf RE: soupkitten Sep 13, 2010 09:28 PM

                                                                      I've eaten at a Boston Market in the bay area, one that was well-located. I don't think it would be at all difficult to trounce them on quality.

                                                                    2. s
                                                                      sexyLAMBCHOPx RE: butterfl Sep 7, 2010 09:47 PM

                                                                      Absolutely!

                                                                      1. l
                                                                        Lizard RE: butterfl Sep 8, 2010 12:09 AM

                                                                        I see my sentiments have popped up throughout the thread in the comments of others, but that won't stop me from registering them now:

                                                                        1. Of course, I've been to many restaurants (mostly Halal) that do not serve alcohol. If the food is worth it, then foregoing the wine will happen-- we'll just have to go elsewhere for drinks.

                                                                        2. American comfort food? I actually don't know that I'd seek out such a place (in the states). As noted before this is a trend that has seen better days, and without booze, there may not be much going for it. That said, all is trumped if a) the food is excellent and b) they focus on daytime service. (I disagree with the person below who claimed beer is the only drink for comfort food. Wine seems the most logical accompaniment to mac and cheese...)

                                                                        3. Is this how you're doing research? One would think it might be better to look at how restaurants in that area have fared-- and perhaps compare the success of those with and without liquor licenses. I imagine that having liquor would be helpful, if only for the markup...

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Lizard
                                                                          huiray RE: Lizard Sep 8, 2010 02:21 AM

                                                                          My two cents...

                                                                          It's a Western/European cultural fixation on alcohol that is the basis of the question in the first place. Not only halal places are non-alcoholic, many non-Western cuisines are not fixated on having alcohol with a meal.

                                                                          The OP's query related to serving "American Comfort Food" so OK alcohol enters into the equation. Still, it raises issues about why people feel this NEED for alcohol with food in the first place.

                                                                          I for one don't like alcohol or wine with Indian or Asian or Chinese food, for example, and with Japanese food sake would be my alcohol if I really really felt like having alcohol with a meal. It's weird to see people NEEDING Western-style wine with Ma Po tofu or some such, but that's just me, perhaps.

                                                                          So...yes, I'd go to this proposed restaurant if it was serving food I was looking for, lack of alcohol will not be an issue.

                                                                        2. j
                                                                          Janet from Richmond RE: butterfl Sep 8, 2010 07:00 AM

                                                                          Unless it's a breakfast/lunch diner, very casual place I'd want alcohol. Breakfast and lunch is no big deal but when going out for dinner, I expect it.

                                                                          1. s
                                                                            Steve RE: butterfl Sep 8, 2010 07:09 PM

                                                                            The economy is bad. Plenty of folks out there looking for inexpensive eating out, counter service, whatever. A place could thrive without a liquor license, of course. Does Starbucks have a liquor license?

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                                              monku RE: Steve Sep 8, 2010 07:23 PM

                                                                              I think some Starbuck' do have liquor licenses, or that was on the drawing board.

                                                                              1. re: Steve
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                                                                                nocharge RE: Steve Sep 9, 2010 12:55 AM

                                                                                How often have you had dinner at Starbucks? But yes, there are lots of restaurant concepts that don't rely on alcohol sales, including many fast-food chains that rely on high volumes and low prices. Does that mean that opening a restaurant serving dinners in a tough competitive environment without serving alcohol is a good idea? Not that obvious. However, here's an idea that might resolve this discussion once and for all: Why doesn't the "I would consider going there, so go ahead and quit your daytime job and invest your life's savings" crowd get together and put up financing for the whole venture?

                                                                                1. re: nocharge
                                                                                  h
                                                                                  Harters RE: nocharge Sep 9, 2010 03:40 AM

                                                                                  By co-incidence, the "invest your life savings" debate has been current in my community. A large business closed and there have been several plans for development. The latest saw a lot of vocal opposition, mainly from residents close by and other traders - but had good support from elsewhere in the community. The opponents of the scheme all say that "something" has to be done about the site - my response has been much as nocharge's

                                                                              2. viperlush RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 06:41 AM

                                                                                I expect to eat at a restaurant to eat and drink at a bar. Not to say I don't drink at a restaurant or eat at bars, but as long as they meet my expectations I am happy.

                                                                                1. b
                                                                                  beachmouse RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 08:35 AM

                                                                                  Maybe it's just because I'm in the South, but a lot of smallish BBQ/Southern comfort food restaurants down here don't serve alcohol. Same goes for a number of the long-established Asian take-out/hole in the wall restaurants around here.

                                                                                  So if you can target the bugdet lunch crowd and soccer Moms who want to pick up something healthier than McDonalds to take home toward the end of a harried day, then I could see it working.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: beachmouse
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                                                                                    mpjmph RE: beachmouse Sep 9, 2010 11:15 AM

                                                                                    That is more or less my experience as well, but I'm also in the South. I can think of a few counter service places that have a limited selection of beer by the bottle, and one that also has a handful of cheap cocktails, but it's pretty normal around here for counter service/take out places to not have alcohol sales.

                                                                                    1. re: beachmouse
                                                                                      iluvtennis RE: beachmouse Sep 9, 2010 02:06 PM

                                                                                      Agreed. My brother owns a bbq restaurant in the south, and he doesn't serve alcohol. They do a huge lunch business and have a smaller but steady evening crowd. It is an order at the counter place , and the restaurant is definitely profitable as is. I guess it depends a lot on the demographics of the area you're in and of course, whether your food is really good or not.

                                                                                    2. junescook RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 09:09 AM

                                                                                      We do drink and generally have drinks or wine before dinner at home. But I'd rather not drive after drinking at all, so if we go out to dinner I don't mind skipping the drinks and saving a few bucks, maybe splurge on something else.

                                                                                      1. Soop RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 09:17 AM

                                                                                        umm, depends. I often like wine with a meal. But if it served light lunches (sandwiches etc) then I'd do without.

                                                                                        1. c
                                                                                          ConOrama RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 11:18 AM

                                                                                          I feel like my concern really wouldnt be whether or not anyone would patronize a restaurant that did not have a liquor license, but more the issue of whether its possible for a restaurant to survive economically without the revenue from the liquor 'markups'.

                                                                                          1. Bill Hunt RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 09:23 PM

                                                                                            If they did not allow BYOW, then I would probably decline.

                                                                                            To us, wine is part of all meals.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                              huiray RE: Bill Hunt Oct 5, 2010 02:40 PM

                                                                                              I would find it very odd to have wine with properly prepared Ma Po Tofu, or Penang Assam Laksa, or many other dishes in those and other cuisines.

                                                                                            2. The Professor RE: butterfl Sep 9, 2010 10:10 PM

                                                                                              If the food is great, I could care less if they don't serve alcohol. I very much LIKE wine or beer with a meal, but it certainly wouldn't be a deal breaker for me if it wasn't available.
                                                                                              It's just not a big deal.

                                                                                              1. tracylee RE: butterfl Sep 10, 2010 04:05 AM

                                                                                                For my Dad, having a pre-order dinner martooni is a make-or-break deal, so if we're going somewhere new, I usually research that ahead of time. I like wine with lunch or dinner, unless I'm grabbing a quick lunch while working.

                                                                                                If it was convenient to where I work and had great lunch food, I'd stop by then.

                                                                                                1. ScubaSteve RE: butterfl Sep 10, 2010 11:28 AM

                                                                                                  i go to many such restaurants but they're mostly hole-in-the-wall ethnic places. there were a few traditional places near me that didn't have booze but their town allowed BYOB so they suceeded, kinda.

                                                                                                  1. f
                                                                                                    FrankD RE: butterfl Sep 10, 2010 07:14 PM

                                                                                                    There's a small diner restaurant in my town. They serve "Canadian comfort food" - egg breakfasts, burgers, club sandwiches, pork chops, etc. They might have a beer and wine license - I''m not really sure, because I have never, in twenty years, seen anyone with a bottle in front of them.

                                                                                                    This place has been there for years, and is now only open from 7 am to 3 pm, so clearly they're succeeding. They might do take out, but it can't be a large part of their business, because I've never seen anyone walking out with a big bag (coffee and/or toast, yes, but not a bacon & egg breakfast).

                                                                                                    So, 1) I will definitely visit an unlicensed restaurant, 2) I don't think it's mandatory to have a license to succeed, and 3) your friends would probably do well to close early and save on staff costs, because after 8 pm, most people are looking for either alcohol or fast food.

                                                                                                    1. v
                                                                                                      valerie RE: butterfl Sep 10, 2010 07:37 PM

                                                                                                      I rarely drink so I'd go. To me alcohol is wasted calories and I'd much rather have good food.

                                                                                                      1. t
                                                                                                        tastesgoodwhatisit RE: butterfl Sep 11, 2010 02:04 AM

                                                                                                        One thing to keep in mind, in general, is that opening a new restaurant is very risky, and has a high failure rate. Opening a new restaurant in a recession is even more risky. Being a great cook helps, but having good business sense, a concept that fits in price and style in the area you are opening in, a good location, good marketing and so on will also make or break the business. 60% of new restaurants close within three years (25% within one year), and you need to be able to manage for about a year without turning much of a profit.

                                                                                                        If they are thinking of opening a restaurant and their research method is along the lines of getting friends to make queries on message boards, I wouldn't hold out much hope for their business going very far.

                                                                                                        1. Kajikit RE: butterfl Sep 11, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                                                                          Sure I would... but I don't drink in the first place. A restaurant without any form of alcohol license (even BYO) is going to have a real tough time staying open.

                                                                                                          It would probably give them an edge if they had a really nice range of non-alcoholic drinks for people to choose from... people who can't have their wine with dinner might be placated by a nice refreshing fruity combo.

                                                                                                          1. susans RE: butterfl Sep 12, 2010 04:23 PM

                                                                                                            I choose a restaurant because the food is good and the place is clean. Everything else is extra. People eat in places that have no alcohol all the time.

                                                                                                            1. Soop RE: butterfl Sep 13, 2010 07:50 AM

                                                                                                              Went out on sunday and spent £13 on half a bottle of wine O___o

                                                                                                              It was good though.

                                                                                                              1. melpy RE: butterfl Sep 13, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                In PA most places don't serve and especially the idea of American comfort food and order at a counter would be typical no booze. Some of the more upscale restaurants without liquor license are BYOB. It just takes a little planning. I guess it depends on the area but I don't think they would lose business over it where I live AT ALL. (there are people here who won't go to places that serve alcohol on principle too though)

                                                                                                                1. w
                                                                                                                  wayne keyser RE: butterfl Sep 16, 2010 09:23 PM

                                                                                                                  I often do. Their McChicken is amazing.

                                                                                                                  1. p
                                                                                                                    PollyG RE: butterfl Sep 17, 2010 06:38 AM

                                                                                                                    They definitely need to understand the law vis-a-vis BYOB, but one of the challenges to a liquorless establishment is profit margin.

                                                                                                                    We're generally non-drinkers when we dine out (I have food intolerances which seem to get far worse if I have any amount of alcohol) so it wouldn't be a big deal for us. Depending upon the type of cuisine, they could even contact some of the local religious institutions and promote themselves as an alcohol-free destination.

                                                                                                                    1. Soop RE: butterfl Sep 17, 2010 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                      Perhaps the major concern is:

                                                                                                                      people that go to a licensed restaurant can choose not to drink.

                                                                                                                      1. BobB RE: butterfl Sep 17, 2010 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                        For lunch, yes. For dinner, absolutely not unless they're BYOB.

                                                                                                                        1. mariacarmen RE: butterfl Oct 5, 2010 07:43 PM

                                                                                                                          I'd go if it was a place that has something different/better than other places i go to with the same type of food that do serve wine. There's a Mayan food restaurant in my city that doesn't serve alcohol and I'll go back again and again because I haven't found that type of food elsewhere, and it's really done well here (altho a new Mayan place recently opened that I just haven't tried yet, nor do i know if they serve booze.)

                                                                                                                          1. alliegator RE: butterfl Nov 22, 2010 12:44 PM

                                                                                                                            I almost never do. Or did. Until I moved to Texas, where I could gripe on almost every topic except for the fact that you can take your own beer almost everywhere. Having a few beers in my oversized hobo purse almost feels like a natural thing.
                                                                                                                            But if their food is exceptional and you could take away (sounds like you no prob), I believe it would be fine. I will go anywhere for take away if the food is of good quality and delicious.

                                                                                                                            1. mamachef RE: butterfl Nov 22, 2010 03:44 PM

                                                                                                                              I never really thought about it, but with the concept they're going with, I don't see why no alcohol wouldn't work. I would surely patronize a resto that didn't serve booze; it's not a requirement for me as part of an enjoyable meal, although I'd draw the line at upscale dining that didn't at least have a wine list. (Not that I really think such a place exists.)
                                                                                                                              When I was in Turkey, we had to decide beforehand, because the restaurants there are very categorized: meat restaurants, fish restaurants, mom-style cooking restaurants - and if you go momstyle, you're not getting any alcohol; if you go for fish, you'll get Raki and not much else because that's how they do it there. I remember my stepdad choosing a momstyle, and settling in and saying, "I'd like to have a beer," and I said, "well, you should've said so beforehand...."

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                gaffk RE: mamachef Nov 22, 2010 03:58 PM

                                                                                                                                I'm from Pennsylvania, the land of the antiquated liquor laws. Here we seek out places without liquor licences. Go to Uzbekistan and bring your own vodka. Go to many fine dining restaurants and bring your own wine. Go for Tacconelli's pizza and bring a cooler of beer.

                                                                                                                              2. b
                                                                                                                                badvegan RE: butterfl Jan 11, 2011 11:21 PM

                                                                                                                                After reading the posts i found that this restaurant is to be located in San Francisco. Depending on location i believe that not having liquor might be a major factor in building a regular customer base.

                                                                                                                                I personally make no money from my bar (and most restaurants really do not once costs are figured) my liquor cost is usually between 28% and 34% which though a little high is not bad really. Having only 88 seats i pull the manager behind the bar on weekends and have expo make mixed drinks during the weekday so i am virtually out no labor (my servers pour thier own beer, wine, and margaritas which is 83% of my sales.) To me the big costs are to running the extra ice machine, the refrigerator for the kegs, the cold plate freezer for chilled draft glasses, and the daily labor and electricity required to maintain both the bar and the margarita machine (im in Texas so frozen margaritas are a big seller year round.)

                                                                                                                                Add to all of the the problems with making sure that my servers are liscensed by the Texas ABC (which here is every 3 years) and also the problems with dram shop laws and insurance.

                                                                                                                                I can guarantee that alcohol and a bar in general is a pain in the butt, and will not make you much money, however with the exception of my patio and fish tank it is probably the thing that people say they like about my restaurant the most.

                                                                                                                                Sometimes i wonder why i even bother with food...... oh yeah its how i pay the electric bill.

                                                                                                                                1. c
                                                                                                                                  cosworthh55 RE: butterfl May 17, 2014 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                  i am opening a music club with live music, food, and non alcoholic beverages,non smoking club,i think people are ready for this type of atmoshere for fun and will do great without the alcholic drinks just have great food and great receipes for the non alcoholic beverages like summer drinks to cool off, sports drinks to go with games , winter drinks to warm you up there are 100s of receipes on line! any one else have a thought on this i will like to know!!!!!

                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: cosworthh55
                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                    Janet from Richmond RE: cosworthh55 May 19, 2014 05:31 AM

                                                                                                                                    I think without alcohol, you will be doomed. Where are you located?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                      MGZ RE: Janet from Richmond May 20, 2014 05:17 AM

                                                                                                                                      Without alcohol, we all will be doomed.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                        Harters RE: MGZ May 20, 2014 05:29 AM

                                                                                                                                        You're right, MGZ. I havnt drunk alcohol for 15 years and certainly feel doomed.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                                          MGZ RE: Harters May 20, 2014 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                          The feelings of doom are the worst in the first 15 hours. Or was that dread? It really doesn't matter. Besides, you were probably already doomed 16 years ago. Now you're just aware of it.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                            Harters RE: MGZ May 20, 2014 06:27 AM

                                                                                                                                            Actually, I think the worst feeling of doom was in the previous 15 hours - the time when I'd decided on the course of action and knew how little fun I expected it to be.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: cosworthh55
                                                                                                                                      pinehurst RE: cosworthh55 May 20, 2014 05:37 AM

                                                                                                                                      Agreed. In music clubs and venues that show sporting events, most people want to drink...copiously.

                                                                                                                                    3. jrvedivici RE: butterfl May 20, 2014 07:00 AM

                                                                                                                                      Well since this thread is 3 & 1/2 years old and someone brought it back to life, I wanna know what did your friends so and how did it work out?

                                                                                                                                      1. LMAshton RE: butterfl May 21, 2014 01:59 AM

                                                                                                                                        Yep, I'd go. I don't drink alcohol, neither does the husband, and there are plenty more people like us.

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