In case you missed it, The Wall Street Journal published an insightful article about why wine costs so much in restaurants, with interesting inside information about wine markups and why the price of high-end bottles varies by as much as four figures from restaurant to restaurant.
I see the wine conundrum from both sides. Restaurants need to make a profit, and big wine markups keep the chicken breast from costing $32. Diners who would deny restaurateurs the opportunity to make a buck are only hurting themselves in the end.
On the other hand, to pay so much over the restaurant’s cost for an item you can buy in a store, which the restaurant does nothing to improve (as compared to the raw foods it purchases), strikes me as a waste of money far more than does a $15 plate of pasta with forty cents of ingredients.
Those awaiting that sexy Todd English restaurant in the old JB Hudson space next to Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis should take a breath. It ain’t happening anytime soon. The recession and real estate meltdown has businesses reevaluating their growth plans. That’s why the south downtown Lunds remains a fantasy and the North Loop Whole Foods keeps shrinking in square footage while never actually getting built.
Frequently lauded Rick Webb (Ciao Bella, Zelo, Bacio), one of the savviest restaurateurs you could ever hope to know, is, we hear, starting to cut back. Insiders have told us that Webb is in the process of selling his stakes in Zelo and Bacio and will only maintain a consultant’s role in the new Ciao Bella and Webb-inspired steak house to open in Woodbury. Webb will remain lord of the Bloomington Ciao Bella. We’d tell you what Webb says, but the notoriously private restaurateur won’t return our calls.