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Although Top Chef/Volt‘s Bryan Voltaggio might be a high-profile voice in the effort to get Maryland to lift its restrictions on corkage practices at restaurants, the association representing Maryland restaurants has come down against the legislative push, after conducting a survey of its members on whether to allow customers to bring their own wine into licensed restaurants.
According to a statement from the Restaurant Association of Maryland, which said a majority of its members, 63 percent, oppose corkage:
While there is currently little consumer demand for the practice, we believe that the publicity surrounding such a law change would encourage more customers to bring their own bottles. Our member restaurants fear that, as a result, the law change will decrease wine and beverage sales, create confusion about serving control and regulatory compliance, create potential customer relations issues for restaurants that choose to continue prohibiting the practice despite a law change, and lead to future law changes allowing customers to bring in other alcoholic beverages. Moreover, restaurants pay expensive liquor license fees and many believe that Wine Corkage will diminish the value of liquor licenses.
Back in November, Voltaggio outlined his case for legislative reform on corkage in a letter to RAM:
We are at a disadvantage to both restaurants without a liquor license and those in other jurisdictions like Washington, DC and Pennsylvania where corkage is legal. Our best customers are forced out of state on their most special occasions if they want to drink a particular bottle of wine because we cannot lawfully allow them to bring it onto our premises. We know many patrons that already drive outside Maryland for their birthdays, anniversaries, etc., robbing our state and industry of valuable income while undermining the relationship we have come to build with them. These very customers tend to be some of our best, and we would very much like to accommodate them.
Stay tuned. This could be the year corkage restrictions are lifted in Maryland.
Photo by Flickr user Theo Geo using a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license