Ask Adam: Do Restaurants Make Money on Bottomless Brunch?

Got a question? Email [email protected].

How do restaurants make money on boozy bottomless brunches? My friends and I go pretty often, and we definitely drink our fair share!

Whether it’s boozy brunch or dinner service, restaurants have insanely tight margins. It’s tough to turn a profit at any time. Everything must be managed perfectly: food and drink costs, labor, operating licenses, and, of course, rent.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

Boozy bottomless brunches are, essentially, a promotion. Before a restaurant decides to offer it, they have to run the numbers to make sure they can afford it.

Some restaurants are known for their brunch and therefore don’t have to offer a promotion to get you in the door. (You know the ones I’m talking about. They usually have a two-hour wait for their famous pancakes, biscuits, or some other sort of brunch dish.) For those that don’t have famous pancakes, bottomless boozy brunch is a great way to get you to show up.

Restaurants that offer this promotion look for very cheap bubbly to put into drinks like Mimosas — we’re talking $2 or $3 a bottle, wholesale, at most — plus cheap beers and well spirits to put into Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers, and Greyhounds. They then charge you a bit more than you’d normally pay for eggs Benedict and hope the higher food prices minus the loss they take on the cheap booze net them in the black by the time you leave. This is why many places also set a time limit on how long you can sit at your table before politely asking you to go.

Sure, there are always restaurants that don’t manage their cash flow correctly and therefore could be losing money on you. It’s safe to assume for the most part, though, if you’re sitting there enjoying a bottomless boozy brunch, the restaurant has done its profit-and-loss calculations correctly and is still making at least a small amount of profit. So drink up.