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EATER: Restaurants Are Selling Their Trophy Bottles to Make it Through the Pandemic

Rare-wine sales are providing a quick injection of cash for struggling restaurants.

As restaurants continue to strategize new ways to stay afloat while state-ordered dining room closures and shelter-in-place protocols threaten the survival of the industry, some restaurateurs are resorting to desperate measures to secure quick injections of cash.

According to an article in EATER, some restaurants have started selling off their collections of rare wine, providing some much-needed cash for restaurants and a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for collectors.

In New Orleans, cocktail bar Cure is auctioning off its most highly allocated spirits via Instagram. In Washington, D.C., Jack Rose Dining Saloon is liquidating much of its whiskey library, which was the most extensive in the country. Countless restaurants and bars are scrambling to transform into retail operations to sell off their wine lists. And at fine dining restaurants, cellars full of scarce, “once-in-a-lifetime” bottles represent big investments that operators now need to recoup as quickly as possible.

As valuable as these sales have been for some restaurants — Las Gatos, California’s Manresa has raised more than $40,000 from rare wine sales — it underlines just how dire the coronavirus crisis is for the restaurant industry, particularly for dine-in establishments that cannot survive on a pivot to takeout and delivery alone.

... such a model isn’t sustainable for ongoing cash inflow: once these bottles are gone, they’re gone. Manresa will likely not have another wine sale for a very long time, if ever. “We still have so many amazing wines we’ll be able to have in the dining room when we reopen,” he says. “But it was really difficult to have certain wines walk out the door.”

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