July 21 WEEKENDER: Second Opinion – BYOB to B.C. restaurants

By relaxing liquor laws, Minister Rich Coleman has confirmed what has been obvious for years, he supports fine dining.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Housing Rich Coleman’s latest press release confirms what has been obvious for years – the minister strongly supports frequent fine dining.

His announcement that the provincial government has relaxed liquor laws allowing patrons to bring their own wine to licensed restaurants will be popular among many fine diners and has received the full support of Ian Tostenson, President and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association (BCRFSA).

“The government continues to introduce common-sense solutions such as the Bring Your Own Wine program,” Tostenson said in the press release.

My neighbour, Carlton “Willy” Williams concurs. “Finally, someone in the government is using their head!” Williams said.  “No matter what restaurant I used to go to, they never had Baby Duck, and who can afford to wash down the chicken and rib platter with one of those expensive wines?”

According to the announcement, restaurants will be allowed to charge a corkage fee, no doubt to make up for the loss of the 100 per cent mark-up on the wine they offer on their menus.  The charge doesn’t bother another neighbour of mine, Luigi Peritoni, who has made and consumed his own delicious Sangiovese red for 40 years.

Peritoni looks forward to pulling out of a paper bag a four-litre jug of Vino Luigi.  “Whatever they charge,” Peritoni said, “is still a good deal. My wine … fantastico!”

The change in the law will help both small restaurants and large families.

“Restaurateurs, especially those with limited wine inventories, welcome the option of allowing their guests to bring their own wine,” said Mark von Schellwitz, vice president of Western Canada for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.  Both Williams and Peritoni agree.  “Now I can bring the whole clan,” Williams said, “’cause we can finally all afford to drink.”

“Now we all come,” Peritoni concurred, “everybody: cousins, uncles … and with two bottles – the big ones – we have good times. OK, maybe three bottles.”

Minister Coleman concluded the press release by adding: “By allowing people to bring their own bottle of wine into their favourite dining establishment, we’ve provided restaurant owners with a great opportunity to create a new type of dining experience that will further promote our wonderful restaurants here in British Columbia.”

Both the Williams clan and the Peritoni family are looking forward to the new type of dining experience.  No doubt maitre d’s everywhere are bravely smiling as well in anxious anticipation.  Fantastico.

– Jim Holtz is WEEKENDER columnist and a former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette