These tips can help you turn your restaurant into a beverage destination.

When restaurants try to think of ways to drive beverage sales, interior design probably isn’t the first item on the list, but the reality is that an impressive wine display can generate huge sales lifts. Dramatic displays can not only help set the atmosphere of the restaurant, they can also attract customer attention and increase wine sales.

Take Cibo Wine Bar, for example. When the Miami venue was designing its massive wine cellar, the only place to go was up, so the brand invested in a floor-to-ceiling display that measures over 40 feet across. Designed by VintageView, the display showcases bottles in a label-out orientation to make selections visible to staff and customers. The display also maintains a 60-degree temperature to ensure guests receive a perfectly chilled beverage.

“At our first venue, the ceilings were very high,” says Nick Di Donato, president and CEO of Liberty Entertainment, which owns Cibo. “If we wanted to go across the whole location, ladders were going to be virtually impossible. We could have created a two-floor system, but we wanted something visually dramatic and functional for this concept.”

With a display this large, ladders would have been cumbersome to move and could create the potential for injuries. Instead, Cibo came up with a solution that was easier, safer, and added even more theatric flair—the wine angel, a sommelier connected to a harness to fly through the air to retrieve bottles of wine. And the biggest benefit of all? It drives sales.

Because the wine display is so unique, it’s a draw for both residents and visitors to Miami who go to Cibo for its reputation as an exciting venue with an amazing wine selection. The display and the wine angel have made the wine bar a destination in South Beach, and customer photos online show just how engaged Cibo’s audience is.

“It does improve our wine sales,” Di Donato says. “It allows people to think about our wine and gives the idea that we take wine seriously. Our wine sales are much higher than they might be [without the display].”

But even restaurants that don’t have room for such a large display can amp up the drama of their wine collections and drive wine sales. Here are a few ways Charles Malek, VintageView CEO, says restaurants can use them to increase wine program profits.

1. Use Glass

Glass can be used to create an upscale aesthetic while showing off wine selections, which can drive sales.

“In conditioned cellars, use some glass,” Malek says. “Even in small amounts, glass viewing areas allow your customers to see the wine list.”

2. Make Storage Visible

Similarly, wine should be visible to potential consumers. While a thorough wine list is an asset, wine sitting in storage hidden from view, it isn’t doing you any favors. Showcasing your collection can create appetite for your products.

“Put at least a portion of the wine storage on display in a main area, clearly visible to customers,” Malek says. “This can be by a hostess stand, in the dining room, above or around the bar, and more. For larger collections, there can always be a secondary storage site out of view for bulk storage.”

3. Face Labels Out

When you have display your wine collection, ensure that the labels face out so that guests can see them.

“Treat wine bottles like top shelf liquor,” Malek says. “Using label-forward wine storage tempts diners, making them thirsty for more wine and more wine knowledge.”

4. Trust Your Designer

 Interior designers come up with fantastic solutions for both design and merchandising. Trust your designer to steer you toward the best solution for your restaurant.

“Let your restaurant designer get creative,” Malek says. “With so many visual tools available in wine storage, these design-focused people can have a lot of fun in building something memorable that speaks to your customers.”

Though a floor-to-ceiling display and harnessed sommelier won’t fit every concept, restaurants can use unique and dramatic wine displays to make themselves wine destinations and drive wine sales.


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