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May 19, 2013 04:12 PM

joe beef wine prices discussed in globe and mail

I was reading this article the other day

Owner acknowledges Joe Beef's steeper mark-up on low priced wines:
"if the customer is drinking $35 wine I might even go to three times the retail price, or 3.2 times. I will not reward you for being thrifty at Joe Beef"

Also mentions that he will often discount higher priced wines, and this can be negotiated

Was wondering what others thoughts on this was?

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  1. Very disrespectful to the original Joe Beef, "the sailors' friend".

    1. He has also stated, in other interviews, that he only breaks even on food, and therefore profits come from alcohol sales. So not surprising, and not an unfair policy, IMHO.

      4 Replies
      1. re: cherylmtl

        Obviously, it is his business, and he has a right to do what he wants. But this also means I'd never darken his door.

          1. re: catroast

            Hi catroast, I don't understand why you are responding to me about this. I have no idea of his profit margins or lack thereof.

            1. re: lagatta

              it was a general response. sorry you were confused.

      2. He marks down high-end wine? BS!

        1 Reply
        1. re: kpaxonite

          I think he means on the menu price, not on cost. I can't imagine how one could go about asking for a discount, but it wouldn't surprise me if on occasion he dropped his markup below 2x on expensive bottles.

        2. One can appreciate where he's coming from on this, given the slim margins in the restaurant business. A table buying a bottle marked at $50 on the wine list will leave little room for profit, so perhaps they should pay a heftier markup. However, I don't really like his wording. For most people, especially in Quebec, a $35 bottle isn't even close to thrifty (of course Joe Beef has no bottles below $50 so he must be referring to their purchase price, not menu price). That means at 3.2x markup the customer would spend over $150 after tax and tip for that "thrifty" bottle. I just had a spectacular meal at Liverpool House last week during which we spent little on wine, so it's tough for me to be too critical, but it's frustrating that those with a lot of cash and the gaul to negotiate a marked price might receive a discount.

          I'm glad this Globe article notes the low markups at Vij's in Vancouver. I know it's a different market than Montreal, but my last time there I couldn't help but order a $79 bottle of 2009 Laughing Stock Portfolio that sells for $40 in BC and >$55 in Quebec. Vij delivered the bottle himself and told some personal stories about the vintners, after which he checked back on us several times. This was a table of 4 and the only bottle we ordered in an (always) packed house. I think Fred & Dave are great restauranteurs, but Vij teaches a master's course in hospitality. At JB & LH I always feel like I've been invited to a party with the cool kids, but I'm stuck sitting in the corner with the nerds.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Fintastic

            I understand those slim margins, but a lot of us also have slimmed margins; it simply means I'll either patronise byow places or avail myself of our rich supply of food sources and cook at home.

            He should have mentioned slim margins rather than coming across as rather contemptuous, no?

            1. re: lagatta

              He did very clearly n the previous article I read - I would tend to attribute this tone more to the writer of the article, and his editing of the interview.

            2. re: Fintastic

              I could not agree more with your last sentence. When last at JB it was very busy as usual - sitting near the door I saw the hostess turn some people away while letting others in (none had reservations). I guess they were the 'cool kids'.

              1. re: JedZ

                not only sticking one in a corner, but making you pay for it!

                Normal of course for a restaurant to be a paying proposition, if not it would close very soon, but such an attitude does not encourage patronage after the initiates move on.

            3. one factor in the high pricing also has to do with the SAQ monopoly on booze and high taxation... and a lotta places, successful or not, are going to take a huge hit on that retroactive taxation thing as well.

              but yeah.. what makes a restaurant bill get astronomically out of control is always the booze...

              the markup on cocktails must be insane compared to wine even...