Beer and wine in a coffee shop

Discussion in 'Restaurant Reviews' started by Martindale, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. Martindale

    Martindale

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    I am not sure if we are a coffee shop or restaurant. People order at the till and we deliver to tables. We focus a lot on our La Marzocco Strada and it is a big part of our business. We do have a limited dinner menu with lasagna, fish and chips, shepherd's pie etc. We are extremely busy so after 26 years of debating whether we should offer craft beers and wine so customers could have that option especially in the evening we finally went through the big hassle and expense of obtaining a liquor licence. So far it is kind of a disaster....hardly any liquor sales. So anyone contemplating doing the same I would not recommend it. I would like to hear what other coffee shop/bistro owners have experienced and perhaps a few suggestions.
     
  2. halb

    halb

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    Well, if you are not sure if you are a coffee shop or restaurant how do you think your customers feel? What do you promote your business as and what attracts your customers- coffee or food?

    How well do you think beer and wine would sell at Starbucks or Duncan Donuts?

    Perhaps a change in focus to a sit-down restaurant serving Italian food- espresso goes well with it as does wine. Craft beers go well with pub fare like burgers and you already have shepherds pie.

    If you think that's a lot of work remember that we make a big part of our profit off alcohol. If you have a liqueur license you want to encourage customers to come in and drink. Beer and wine goes with food, not coffee.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  3. Martindale

    Martindale

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  4. Martindale

    Martindale

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    Just learning how this site works. I think it could be really helpful to discuss restaurant stuff with others in the biz. So throwing out our experience with the liquor thing. I could send a link to our media so other restaurants could look at our operation and see if they are similar. We are doing everything we can to promote the fact that we have beer and wine available with signage and table tents. We are successful with what we do so not prepared to change our whole operation to try to sell more liquor. I just thought that a lot of people are like me....I won't go somewhere for dinner if I can't have a beer with my fish and chips, lasagna, clubhouse sandwich, whatever. So far the whole $1000. application fee, floor plan submission, "serve it right" course for our staff, inventory, form filling, risk of $7500. fine if someone serves a government plant who looks 30, is just a huge pain in the butt. If I had read or heard about this experience from others it would have saved me a lot of money and time.
     
  5. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    You stated you were extremely busy so wondering why the need for such a huge re-write of your business model?
    Did y'all float the idea of the lesser BYOB license at all?
    The initial question was re beer and wine but you keep using the word liquor (in my state there is a big difference so which did you buy?).
    Since you are asking if this was just a few regulars wanting to enjoy a couple of nice beverages with dinner I would go with the lesser change as a courtesy until there was enough interest to make the bigger leap.

    mimi
     
  6. halb

    halb

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    You are missing my point. No offense, but just from reading the first few sentences of your original post I would not be inclined to think that yours is the place to have dinner. You promote your business as a coffee shop, you have a very limited food menu on the side, customers order upfront then sit down. Really, what differentiates you from Duncan Donuts?

    If you want to be successful at selling beer and wine you are going to have to attract the kind of customers that will purchase it with food, not snacks and lose the coffee shop image.

    Just a thought, but did you ever ask your customers if they would be interested in beer or wine before you decided to apply for the license?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
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  7. Iceman

    Iceman

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    BYOB works really well in restaurants ... not places like "coffee shops" that do their business selling drinks. I would bet that opening up to selling beer/wine could become very profitable. The biggest consideration you should look into is the licensing. Local governments don't just pass out licenses like welcome cards. Then ... if you can get licensed ... how much business would B/W have to bring in to make it economically viable. Those licenses ain'te cheap.

    A "Beer and Wine" Starbucks would go to the moon. The only problem I could see would be location size.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  8. halb

    halb

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    He already has the license. His complaint is that for him it was a waste of money and time. His customers aren't interested in beer or wine.
     
  9. Iceman

    Iceman

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    I was just making generalized conversation. ... My thoughts on the original topic.
     
  10. Martindale

    Martindale

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    BYOB is not an option here in British Columbia. We just have beer and wine...no mixed drinks. We will soldier on with the idea of giving customers the option of a beer or wine with dinner and lots of people do come in for a meal in the evening. It is an easy thing to carry on with since there is no waste and no labour involved. I will update later on with how things are going. We are only into it for a couple months now.
     
  11. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    If they aren't drinking beer and wine what are they drinking ?????? If they're looking at you as a coffee shop that serves food then maybe they want to enjoy an expresso during or after their meal. Like you said, it may have cost you some money but there isn't any labor cost involved. If it were me I would just say screw the liquor and move on. You have a successful business without the liquor sales......Be happy and move on........ChefBillyB
     
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  12. Martindale

    Martindale

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    Not going to give up just yet. We do go through 650 pounds of coffee a month but coffee sales drop off in the evening. I am always trying new things so don't regret trying this. We do sell a whole lot of food perhaps because we work on volume and low prices for example fish and chips, lasagna, shepherd's pie for 9 bucks (what is that in U.S. 7 bucks?) and since we don't go around with waitresses no tips to speak of so customers find it a real bargain. We are Granville's Coffee if you would like to Google us.
     
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  13. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Looking at your establishment it looks like a quirky kinda coffee shop. I say that because the pictures make it like I could stop in for a coffee sit and talk, read the paper and use the wifi without ordering food. That being said you also offer a good size Breakfast menu with great prices. I think in many ways people could be looking at your place as being more of a family friendly and feel. That being said a lot of people don't drink a lot in family dining places. We have a Denny's in town that has a bar. You don't see may people ordering a beer or wine with their meal. I just don't think they see it as a place that they would have a drink during a meal.

    Your prices are great! Not knowing what your beer and wine prices are it could be people don't want to pay $5 for a beer when the Fish & Chips are $9. The price of fresh battered Halibut or Cod is about $16 on the Oregon and Washington Coast. It could also be as high as $18 in Seattle.

    I'm just down the road from you 11 hours South. I see where you are and I could see why you sell a lot of coffee. I got a chill just seeing how far up North you are. I also see the forrest fires are getting a bit close to town lately. We are getting your smoke down here with a North wind blowing smoke this way. Stay safe it's a bad fire year.

    I was also thinking because of you being in such a small town if your local people who always saw you as a coffee shop can't see you as a place to have a beer. I don't go to Starbucks for my Beer and wine either......Take care, I hope it all works out.....ChefBillyB
     
  14. Martindale

    Martindale

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    I did read somewhere that Starbucks were going to try serving craft beer at select locations....since it isn't all over the place yet probably bombed. Anyway ChefBilly B thanks a lot for chatting. You know what I would like from this site is an exchange of ideas good and bad. If someone asks for an opinion it doesn't mean that they don't know what they are doing. I started this place 26 years ago and have learned one hell of a lot over the years and am still learning. Probably my biggest weakness is being very reluctant to raise prices. If I am making a good living I just leave things as they are. But over time you just keep eating increases in wages, food cost, hydro, supplies, gas etc. and finally you have to just do it. I know my life would be far easier if I charged 12 bucks for a full breakfast rather that 8.50. We get our coffee from a local craft roaster so it ain't cheap stuff and our coffee is still only 1.65...whereas most independent coffee shops charge around 2.25. BUT I am happy...so there you go.
     
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  15. iridium12

    iridium12

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    First off - nice place you got there (from what I can see from the web).

    I will agree with most of what has been said above, the whole "customers seeing you as a coffee shop" - which definitely is a part of the "problem" imho.

    Just out of curiosity - are you allowed to serve spirits?
    Because if you are - one idea would be to put some seasonal cocktails on the menu (nothing too fancy for which you'd need a mixologist for), but some basic fun & quirky recipes that would go down well with your regular crowd.

    One of the things I have found - while many people consider drinking wine and beer as "drinking" - ironically many people don't seem to think of cocktails in the same way
    Plus - there is a lot of coffee themed / based cocktails
     
  16. Martindale

    Martindale

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    Yes we are allowed to serve spirits. However, we try to keep things reasonably uncomplicated since we are so busy just trying to keep up with what we do now with all the milkshakes, smoothies,frappuccinos,, fish and chips...it is kind of a zoo in which all staff have to know everything. Beer and wine is very, very uncomplicated. Your idea of coffee based drinks like Irish Coffee, Spanish Coffee and other such creations is a good one and we may try that. I think this site is a good one because you can read of other restaurants experiences with certain ideas before actually going down the road yourself. It would be great if restaurants who don't compete directly (such as ones that are hundreds of miles apart) could sit down and compare their operations side by side. What works and what doesn't? For my operation that operates on high volume and low prices we may just be chasing our tails and stepping over dollars to pick up nickles. The sales we have come with a great deal of stress just trying to keep up. I travel all over the place and constantly check out other coffee shops and try to analyze what they do. They aren't as busy but perhaps their cash flow allows them to achieve the same profit without the constant barrage. For us a 10% increase would still have our prices very low. Is someone not going to have their favourite eggs benny because it is 9.50 with no tip (counter service and we don't have the tip option on our debit machines) instead of 8.50. 10% would be a huge increase to our bottom line. As a business person I think I am strong at promotions, staff relations and all that but probably a business consultant would call me an idiot because I am scared to move out of the low price, high volume niche that I have carved.
     
  17. halb

    halb

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    Looks like you have a really nice place! But do you read your reviews? People come to you for breakfast, some lunch. Hardly any mention of dinner. There has to be a reason for that.

    What goes against you is that you have menu boards, stand in line to order, no wait staff and no on-line menu. I suspect your menu is more breakfast and lunch orientated but unfortunately I can only get a glimpse from the pictures.

    The big plus however is that you have the atmosphere of a nice family casual dining restaurant.

    So my advice is to 86 the menu boards, print up menus and hire maybe two servers. Then introduce a dinner menu. I would take the advice of iridium12 and also introduce some seasonal cocktails which would appeal to the lunch crowd, maybe even include a glass of wine with certain dinner entrees. Burger or fish & chips you get a beer for $2.00.

    Know that I'm not suggesting any of this just to sell alcohol. From what I see it should be your next step to better define your image as a restaurant and away from a place to just have coffee and a quick meal. But like I said above, liquor is a huge money maker that I wouldn't pass off as long as you have the ability to sell it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
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  18. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    It's real easy for anyone to come in and say raise your prices. I think you know you business and also know why you can't raise your prices. Your town has a population of 12,000 people. I bet you have a lot of repeat business and say hello to everyone as they walk through the door. You mentioned in a post that you were making a good living at todays menu pricing. There's nothing wrong with making a good living. You asked if someone would complain about the Benny going up 10%. I think in a small town with small town wages it just may make a difference.......

    I also think with offering all the Expresso drinks along with milkshakes, smoothies, soft drinks and whatever else, would make the liquor just another part of the drink selection.
     
  19. halb

    halb

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    Nobody was suggesting that he raise his prices. Matter of fact it would be just the opposite if he were able to make an additional profit off liquor sales. Certainly bringing in a dinner crowd and maybe more for lunch would help the bottom line also. All in all it would more than offset the cost of a couple of servers. Looks like a win/win to me.
     
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  20. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I read somewhere (has been awhile back tho) that Starbucks had opened a lobby bar (beer wine and liquor) in a brand spankin' new luxury hotel (Chi-Town?) and despite the awesome happy hour prices it bombed.
    This hotel was of the fancy high-rise breed and the biz may have picked up ...I will have to look into it again and report back.

    Back OT... you ask for opinions on CT and you get opinions lol.
    Sometimes not exactly what you want to hear but the longtime posters here... have been there, seen it and have all the t-shirts to prove it.
    I like your website (finally a biz you don't have to have a FB acct to access ;-) and was particularly pleased with a link educating normies on the +++ on spending their $$$ locally.

    Have you actually sat down and crunched the numbers re hiring a couple of waitstaff?
    Your biz model as it stands at this time sounds a bit chaotic and that will...over time...translate into dollars and cents.

    Good luck...
    mimi