“We didn’t have the money to buy a liquor license,” remembers Kevin D’Egidio, co-chef and co-owner of Helm, a restaurant in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. In Philadelphia, liquor licenses can cost as much as $170,000, not including the cost of the product that needs to be ordered to support a beverage program. Kevin and his team could either save up the money needed to secure a full liquor license, which could take a while, or open Helm with a BYOB license, allowing guests to bring in their own wine, beer or spirit.
D’Egidio and his business partner, Mike Griffiths, decided to open Helm in March of this year with a BYOB license so that they could get into the kitchen sooner. “We just wanted to cook,” he says. Since they’ve opened, they have racked up accolades and been included on “best of” lists in the city.
For new, independent restaurants, having a full, unrestricted liquor license is beneficial because beverage programs tend to have higher profit margins than food. Beverage programs also create another way for guests to connect with a restaurant through signature cocktails, beer, and wine, which are all chosen to complement the food menu.
At BYOB restaurants, the staff has to do extra work to create a bridge between what a guest has brought and what’s on the menu for the night. Here are a few ways that the team at Helm helps guide their guests and how the kitchen makes BYOB work for them. [Read more…]