Azama Grill on Harvard Avenue today sought city permission to extend its closing time to 3 a.m., citing the dietary needs of the area's growing Muslim population in general and Muslim cab drivers in particular.
"There are no other halal establishments in the Allston/Brighton area," restaurant lawyer Stephen Greenbaum told the Boston Licensing Board, referring to the kosher-like dietary laws devout Muslims follow.
But board Chairman Daniel Pokaski was having none of it, asking what would stop somebody from coming in next week and demanding a late-night license because "the Italians want to come in and they want a slice of pizza?"
Pokaski said residents of Allston/Brighton "deserve the quiet enjoyment of their home" and that he would be disinclined to approve 3 a.m. when the board holds a vote on the issue at a meeting tomorrow. "It just opens up a Pandora's box." Fellow board member Suzanne Ianella did not comment. The third member, Michael Connolly, was not present.
The Allston Board of Trade supported the later hours, saying if nothing else, Azama's Middle Eastern fare represented a healthy alternative to the greasy stuff now available late at night in Allston.
But City Councillor Mark Ciommo and District D-14 police opposed a 3 a.m. closing - with D-14 citing two recent murders at the intersection of Harvard and Brighton avenues.
Greenbaum said it's unfair to penalize his client because of the deaths. "Both were bar related and have nothing to do with my client. This is not the kind of establishment where people would be hanging around. ... It's literally nothing but a takeout establishment." He added Azama, which already has a bouncer, would be willing to hire a late-night police detail.
But Allston Civic Association President Paul Berkeley said he is tired of the "slippery slope" of later hours and the fact that there are already too many people in the area late at night. Over the past ten years, "there's probably one murder a year, and it always happens in the same location," he said, adding the group wants fewer cabs in the area, not more. "We actually have a huge problem with taxi drivers parking on our streets all night long."