All Canada restaurants should go BYOB, says CAQ

October 19 2016

Canada’s restaurants would be given new life if they all let customers bring their own alcohol.

That’s according to the centre-right political party Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), which has championed the ‘bring your own bottle’ (BYOB) approach in a bid to get people eating out more often.

Currently, restaurants willing to let customers consume alcohol whilst dining can choose between two permits. One lets the restaurant sell alcoholic beverages directly to diners, whilst the other sees customers bring their own bottles of wine or beer with them.

François Bonnardel, CAQ’s finance critic and house leader, believes that the province should merge its two-tier permits system into a single permit to give restaurants more freedom and flexibility.

Speaking to CBC.ca, Mr Bonnardel explained why he thought the change would benefit both restaurants and customers.

“The reality is Quebecers have less money in their pockets, so they go to restaurants less often,” he said.

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

The idea is backed by rotisserie chicken giant St-Hubert and restaurant chain Normandin, which is made up of 40 restaurants across seven regions in east Canada.

Profit blow

However, not all restaurant owners are convinced.

Victor Afonso, who owns Tapeo and Restaurant Mesón in Villeray, is one of them. He claims that profit margins are too small already and decreased alcohol sales would deal a devastating blow to his takings.

“It's not a question of being greedy, it's a question of survival," explained Mr Afonso. “I don't think this would benefit any small restaurant.”

It has been claimed that a single all-encompassing permit could benefit restaurants that already operate a BYOB policy though by generating previously untapped sales.

Pizzeria Napoletana in Montreal's Little Italy has been BYOB ever since it opened in 1948. Linda Girolamo, the restaurant’s vice president, said that simplifying the permits into one would give them ‘the best of both worlds’.

“People can bring their favourite wine and if they forget, we can sell them what we have,” she commented, adding that any restaurants concerned about losing money on lost alcohol sales could introduce an ‘uncorking fee’.