MINNEAPOLIS - A nice night out can go from zero to pricey depending on how many drinks you have with dinner.
It's no secret that restaurants mark up their wine, but the question is how much? And, if you knew, would it change your dining habits? A pair of local restaurateurs are betting that it will.
"It always bothers me when I go out to a restaurant, because I do have that insider information, and I do know how much those bottles cost, so that huge markup is a stinger for me and it almost feels like the better bottle of wine you buy in a restaurant the more you get stung. It's like you're being penalized,” says Mike Rakun.
"I think the industry standard of the three times markup has been there for so long, it's actually sometimes four times markup, that it's just what people expect. They don't understand that the restaurant paid $25 for that bottle and they're getting charged $75 or $100," Gardiner said.
Four times markup? That’s a gut punch to the wallet. The two saw an opportunity to educate customers and hopefully win some over.
"We call it 'Have Mercy.' Have Mercy on your wallet, that’s our wine list," Gardiner said.
A cute play on words … but what does it really mean to you? Essentially, they’re selling wine at retail prices. A little markup for them, a lot less markup for you.
It also means you’ll find the same bottles of wine on their list at 50 percent less or more than other restaurants in town. The duo says the concept is already proving to be a winner. They’ve noticed sales of wine increase since they started the program.
"There’s been plenty of people that walk in the door and say, 'I wasn’t even going to have a glass of wine, but I saw your wine list and we got two bottles,'" Gardiner said.
But, it almost feels a bit taboo to talk about an industry practice, especially one dealing with price.
"I don't really care, do you?" Rakun asks.
"Nope," Gardiner replies.
Well, there you go.