Montreal

CAQ proposes making all restaurants BYOB

The Coalition Avenir Québec says allowing all restaurants to become BYOB — bring your own bottle — could breathe new life into the industry.

Customers would be allowed to purchase alcohol on site or bring their own

The CAQ's proposal is not sitting well with some restaurateurs. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

The Coalition Avenir Québec says allowing all restaurants to become BYOB — bring your own bottle — could breathe new life into the industry.

Right now, restaurants wanting to sell alcohol have to choose between two permits: one allows them to sell alcohol on site, while the other lets customers bring their own bottles of wine or beer.

François Bonnardel, the CAQ's finance critic, says the province should simplify their permits. He wants to see one flexible permit which allows both sales on site and for customers to BYOB.

He says the change will benefit both consumers and restaurants.

"The reality is Quebecers have less money in their pockets, so they go to restaurants less often," said Bonnardel.

"By reducing the cost of their restaurant bills, we will give them a reason to go out more often." 

Good for chains, bad for small restos?

The CAQ says the idea has been backed by rotisserie chicken giant St-Hubert and the restaurant chain Normandin.

Victor Afonso owns Tapeo and Restaurant Mesón in Villeray. He doesn't think the new kind of permit would benefit all restaurants. (courtesy Victor Afonso)
But not all restaurateurs are sold on the idea. Victor Afonso owns Tapeo and Restaurant Mesón in Villeray. He says that profit margins are too small already and the decrease in alcohol sales would be hard to swallow.

"It's not a question of being greedy, it's a question of survival," said Afonso. 

"I don't think this would benefit any small restaurant."

For restaurants already operating as BYOBs the change could bring in new sales.

Linda Girolamo is the vice president of Pizzeria Napoletana in Montreal's Little Italy. Her family has owned the business for almost 40 years and it has always been BYOB.

"It's the best of both worlds," said Girolamo. "People can bring their favourite wine and if they forget, we can sell them what we have."

Girolamo says regular restaurants could create an "uncorking fee" for customers who choose to bring their own alcohol. She says that would help make up for any loss in alcohol sales.   

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