As owners of Noteworthy Wines, we LOVE bistro restaurants and bistro foods.
Over the last 2 years, we’ve done our best to position our supplier products with any licensee, but we’ve discovered a recurring theme: those most likely to support us are bistro restaurants and owners.
For those who aren’t immersed in this business on a day-in-day-out basis, we believe that there are three basic types of restaurants and licensees in this business:
- Large chain-type locations
- Bistro restaurants
- ‘Mom and Pop’ diners
Chain restaurants include those in hotels and major venues. They are almost always looking for generic, low-priced product that they can either white-label (ie. put their own label or brand on it) or high-priced volume items that are well recognized by the average consumer. These places tend to sell lots of wine, but the margins are so thin that we haven’t started approaching them yet as our suppliers don’t have the volume available or are not able to cut prices to the bone.
‘Mom and Pop’ diners represent the classic ‘greasy spoon’ restaurant where most people don’t go to get a glass of wine, but instead go for breakfast or brunch. If they do go for dinner, odds are, the choice of wine is ‘red’ and ‘white’, with both coming from the largest original serving size possible, such as a 20 litre box of wine. What I find interesting about these types of food venues is that they could sell a LOT more wine if they invested in something just a little better than plonk.
In busier cities like Toronto, gentrification is pushing many of these places to do exactly as prescribed above: add a little flavour, style and quality to the mix of routine wines. It may include a couple of craft beers or one or two wines that are ‘elite’ wines for discerning customers.
Enter the BISTRO. From what we’ve seen, bistro owners are true risk takers because they neither have the financial backing of a large chain, nor do they have the brand recognition of the local ‘watering hole’ that people have been loyal to for decades. In many ways, they are on their own and they need every opportunity they can get to differentiate themselves and pull people in.
This is why these bistro owners tend to be our best clients.
And that’s why we are sending a message to all of you that they need every bit of support from their local community that they can get! In fact, recent research shows that diners are shifting away from bistros in favour of mass, chain foods. This is hard to avoid as more consumers buy their dinners closer to home … or possibly even from the grocery store!
In London, a large group of bistro-style locations are entering another round of ‘London-licious’, a food-driven, value-oriented bonanza for locals and tourists in the middle of winter. Many restaurants that carry our wines, including Abruzzi, Aroma, Fellini Koolini’s, Marienbad’s and the Waltzing Weasel all have specials on January 24 to February 9, 2014. Please join them.
You can also see a list of all of the restaurants that carry Noteworthy Wines. Obviously, we’d love to see this list grow quickly in the New Year and you can always help by asking your favourite restaurant to stock wine from our suppliers!
Finally, starting in 2014, we’re going to start a series of articles related to local bistro owners, profiling their restaurants, the owners and what they are doing to bring you the best. The best way to stay up to date on these articles is to subscribe to our newsletter.
Bill & Lisa Wittur
A London Ontario Licensed Wine Agency