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Cooper’s Hawk will let wine club members earn points at Ruth’s Chris

The upscale steak chain will waive the corkage fee for members who bring their Cooper’s Hawk wine with them, through the end of April.
Photograph courtesy of Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is encouraging its wine club members to take their wines to a different concept: Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

The two brands this week announced a unique partnership that will allow the members of the Cooper’s Hawk wine club to earn points for eating at Ruth’s—which will let those members drink their Cooper’s Hawk wine inside their restaurants without the corkage fee.

Ruth’s loses the potential drink business from those visits over the next six weeks but gains access to a loyal group of potential customers. Cooper’s Hawk’s wine club has 375,000 members and is believed to be the biggest of its kind in the country.

For Cooper’s Hawk, the partnership is the latest in its effort to give those members more benefits beyond rewards and a monthly bottle of wine.

“Not everyone only eats at Cooper’s Hawk all the time,” Founder and CEO Tim McEnery said in an interview with Restaurant Business. “A lot of people think we’re a little bit crazy, inviting guests to go to another restaurant. But we think it’s a special, unique opportunity for our guests.”

Cooper’s Hawk wine club members can make reservations for a visit to Ruth’s from the chain’s website using their Cooper’s Hawk wine club member number. In addition to the waived corkage fee for using their wine, members receive 100 wine-club points.

The partnership is a unique one between two theoretical competitors, though Ruth’s is more upscale, with more than double Cooper’s check average.

Ruth’s is an established, high-end steak chain with more than 150 total locations. Cooper’s is a fast-growing polished casual chain and winery that expects to finish 2019 with 41 restaurants.

“Combining the outstanding flavors of our acclaimed steaks with the distinguished reputation of Cooper’s Hawk wine, this makes an absolutely flawless pairing,” Abdiel Aleman, vice president of culinary development for Ruth’s Chris Steak House, said in a statement.

Cooper’s routinely holds events and travel benefits for its wine club members and has been working more recently to give them more benefits. For instance, the company now allows wine club members pay for their dinner with a simple signature.

“With the wine club member at the center of our universe, we want to create some unique opportunities for them to share and enjoy their wines,” McEnery said.

“Ruth’s is just one of the iconic restaurant companies in the country,” he added. “It’s a wonderful experience and wonderful people, and a lot of our guests probably don’t go there very often. This is an incentive.”

Also, he added, “We’re friends with the guy at Ruth’s Chris. So it was an easy starting point.”

McEnery promised additional benefits for the company’s wine club members in the near future. He also said the chain could do more partnerships with “aspirational” restaurants and have identified potential partnerships.

“We envision more collaborations with aspirational restaurant brands,” McEnery said.

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