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New online tool helps US restaurants to sell fine wines

New York-based Coast App has launched the website Takeout COVID to help restaurants sell inventory sat in fridges, cellars and bars and provide access to rare and expensive wine lists that would otherwise be reserved for in-house diners.

Launched in March 2020, Takeout COVID is a map-based tool that allows users to search by city and ‘order food, cocktails, wine, and beer for delivery or take-out and keep your local favourites in business’.

The open-sourced website allows premises, ranging from restaurant groups to individual wineries, to submit opening hours and contact information, as well as links to menus and up-to-date wine lists.

‘While everything is in flux, if social distancing is going to be the new normal for weeks or even months, we’re hoping to provide a tool that helps “keep the lights on” for the industry as a whole,’ said the new tool’s development team in a press release.

Rohit Prakash, CEO and co-founder of Takeout COVID, told Decanter.com that the website was initially started to ‘help restaurants sell off their wine cellars during this crisis’.

He said that the group saw an opportunity to help restaurants and other food and wine businesses ‘with a “deskless” workforce’.

He added, ‘A lot of the restaurants [now] on our platform were struggling to generate cash flow, and we noticed that they were opening up their wine lists at a discount as a way to support themselves.

‘People can buy collectible bottles that you wouldn’t find anywhere else, and at the same time support their favorite local restaurant. Our only goal for this is to see the same restaurants and bars still operating whenever the crisis is over.’

Several high-profile restaurants are listed on the site, including Michelin three-starred SingleThread Farm in Sonoma County, which has teamed up with local vineyards to offer a ‘Support Sonoma Wine Package’ of four local wines.

In New York, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, which has two Michelin stars, links through to an online wine list where customers can currently purchase 21 wines, including:

  • Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux 2009 for $200;
  • Albert Bichot, Domaine Long-Depaquit, 1er Cru Vaucoupin, Chablis 2017 for $150;
  • Krug Brut 2004 for $500;
  • Pierre Gimonnet, ‘Cuvée Fleuron’, 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs, Brut 2008 for $140.

There are currently 23 cities indexed on the Takeout COVID site, with plans to roll-out more, including New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Napa and Sonoma, Austin, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Philadelphia, San Diego and Atlanta. There are also two cities in Canada – Ottowa and Toronto – now listed, alongside a filter system enabling the identification of specific establishments offering; food, wine, beer, cocktails, meal kits and delivery.

Separately, several top restaurants in the US have also been selling fine wines to private customers to help boost revenue.

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