From the REPublic: David vs Goliath

March 22, 2012 · 3 comments

We all know this scenario. In fact, this exact same story played out in my territory a year or two back. Wine Buyer from a previous restaurant (that had only a beer/wine license) called me, all excited to be able to work with me again in his new position at a large, swanky place (with a full liquor license) opening later that month. We discussed a sizable opening order as he was quite familiar with my offerings… but before the ship date, he confirmed only a quarter of what we had discussed. The rest of the budget had been eaten up in the owner’s recent meeting with The Big Boys. I love a good cocktail, but a full liquor license often means a wide open door for SWS and the likes which can make my job a little trickier.

Republic posts are reader-submitted.

Dear Wine Buyer,

I see the stress on your face and it makes me sad. You are a loyal and a fun to work with customer who wants to pioneer good wine in a sea of glog. You understand how our city doesn’t promote wine as much as it should instead of the cocktail mania that is everywhere.

I am happy you are moving on to a new, bigger restaurant that will bring you a better opportunity to create a beverage program that rocks. We need better wine lists that have wine with soul and not something to fill a price point. Our city needs more talented and brave beverage directors that want to tell a story that compliments the food they offer and shows off how fun wine can be from around the world. You are exactly what this city needs!

To see you compromise and get stressed by your owner worries me. The fact that your owner is listening to the big corporate distributors is trouble enough. But to let them bribe the owner with $10k to “assist the opening of the restaurant” is awful. The fact they control the entire liquor selection AND 25% of the wine list for an entire year is outrageous. I feel your pain. The lack of creative control is unfair and the corruption has to end. These big distributors do not have to fight for placements like I do. They sell you quote wine that they are not afraid to sell to the supermarket down the street. They do not provide the over the top service that I do. Maybe they can provide crap wine you can make a profit on but your cash flow will die if you adhere to their drops. The new business wont be regarded as a destination of excellence in this city. It will just be another half assed idea. Greed is not good if quality is compromised.

Don’t give up. Make the 25% the wines you really don’t need. Power through and really put a shining light on the wines with soul that YOU have selected that you can be proud of.

Your trusted sales rep and moral compass,

the little guy

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