Haley Guild Moore of Town Hall in San Francisco on Bigger Bars and White Rhône Wines

Haley Guild Moore runs the wine programs for the Stock and Bones restaurant group, right in the heart of the tech gulch that has formed in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. (The group includes Town Hall, for which we interviewed her below.) It’s been a mixed blessing, she says: The tech firms bring in people with expendable income, but the companies themselves provide so much in the way of sustenance for their employees that check averages aren’t what they used to be.

Last time we talked we spoke of the challenges of restaurants making it in the new San Francisco.
Yes, I can’t say it’s resolved itself. Wine is more of a challenge to sell than ever before. We’re surrounded by tech companies, and those businesses have so many perks in house, they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, they have full bars with spirits and wine. So when people do come out, they’re not having three courses, they’re not committing to a full bottle of wine.
Liquor sales and cocktails are up. Both here and at Salt House [another Stock and Bones restaurant] the cocktail scene is so big we’re revamping the bar, adding a well and seven extra seats. In the early 2000s beverage programs weren’t such an important part of an opening. We knew what we wanted the floor to feel like, but bars were sort of an afterthought. Now it’s great to see the beverage program be a more central revenue generator.

Your list your biggest new success on the list as a southern Rhône red—Domaine Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Anytime you can sell a Châteauneuf-du-Pape for less than $100, it’s a no-brainer. I think the biggest surprise is that we’re selling white Rhônes, like St. Joseph blancs, which have such incredible richness and texture, and go so well with our food, which has a fair amount of richness. We’re especially selling wines in the $50 to $80 range, the St. Josephs and Crozes-Hermitages.

What other trends are you seeing?
We’re going through more Champagne and sparkling wines than ever before. It feels like people have finally figured out it’s a wine you can actually drink; you don’t have to be celebrating. Our sparkling wine sales have almost doubled in the last year. And it feels like people aren’t afraid of a higher price point for something of quality. We’ve been pouring Laurent-Perrier for $18 a glass. But also, it’s the wine that’s priced most fairly on list, it’s the best value. That’s intentional; I want people to start with it or drink it with their meal. I don’t want people to forget it’s wine.

How have still rosé sales been?
They’ve been great for us. They slowed down a bit as it got colder, but we have two by the glass—$13 and $18—and the sales are split between the two. For us, rosé doesn’t need to be cheap and cheerful. So we might do a Provence rosé and then a Sancerre on higher end. It’s just about making sure they know the difference. So rosé has done well for us—especially at happy hour. We pour a red, a white and a rosé, and the rosé is the number-one seller every night.

Tags  2020 Restaurant Poll  31st Annual Restaurant Poll  Haley Guild Moore  Town Hall  Stock and Bones  SF  San Francisco