One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

January 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

In a previous entry,  I outlined ten steps to improving wine list profitability and also provided statistics on the relatively low percentage of restaurants, surveyed by Winemetrics, following one or more of these practices. Normally, in this section of our newsletter, I feature a restaurant chain or group that is providing their customers with easy access to wine information as well as a diverse selection of wines by region, variety and serving sizes. Essentially, those attributes that will attract the high-value wine consumer.  This week I had hoped to profile Palomino, a 10-unit chain which is part of the Restaurants Unlimited group; it was one of the highest rated upscale-casual American restaurants in our 2010 Chain Restaurant Report.

Naturally, when possible, I attempt to confirm the chain’s web presence, wine list format, pricing etc. prior to publishing a report in Winemetrics’ newsletter. A previous visit in July, 2010 at their Dallas location revealed an extensive wine list with 2 and 4 oz. pours, 6 wines by the half-bottle, 25 wines by the glass and the entire wine list available on the dinner and lunch menu, a fact that could be confirmed on Palomino’s very efficient website.  In the interceding 6 months, the website has been redesigned, still efficient, but there is no wine on the dinner menu or the lunch menu. In fact, there is no mention of wine anywhere on Palomino’s website, except on a Happy Hour menu where two inexpensive wines by the glass are mentioned.

This apparent reversal by Palomino seems inexplicable.  In the age of Opentable.com, where a restaurant’s menu is just a click away from deciding whether a reservation is made, is seems illogical that a restaurant would choose to provide less information, not more, about what they offer potential customers.   

In addition to the statistics quote in Winemetrics’ previous newsletters, here is more relevant restaurant customer behavior information that should be considered prior to a menu or website redesign. (courtesy of DiningGrader.com).

–          89% of consumers say they have researched a restaurant prior to dining there

–          Of those consumers that have researched a restaurant online, 57% indicated that prior to selecting a restaurant, they view the restaurant’s website.

–          Using the Internet to check out menus and other information about a restaurant is most prevalent among consumers aged 25 to 45

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