Allston neighborhood group would rather have abandoned gas station than pizza place that serves beer and wine

Abandoned stationProposed pizza place.

The Allston Civic Association narrowly voted to oppose plans for an upscale pizza place at what is now an abandoned Citgo station on Western Avenue because family restaurants shouldn't serve beer or wine, the Crimson reports.

Harvard, which owns the 182 Western Ave. property, wants to lease it to Stone Hearth Pizza, which has restaurants in Cambridge, Belmont and Needham.

But proving they don't hate everything, the association did approve plans by promoter Don Law to turn Harpers Ferry into the Brighton Music Hall, Eric Gittleman reports.

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Comments

This is a terrible decision

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This is a terrible decision and is exactly the wrong move. Stone Hearth is a really nice place, I go to the Cambridge one frequently. It is in no way a light night drinking place. This would be a great addition for an area that is always clamoring for nice businesses. Harvard actually does its job for once and offers up a solid, local chain and gets shot down over what has to be the ignorance of some (clearly not all) neighbors. Also, something the article does not mention is that Stone Hearth is renowned for its extensive gluten-free menu, which is a godsend for people with Celiac Disease who want to enjoy a nice pizza or Italian meal.

What!?

If family restaurants shouldn't serve beer and wine, please tell the members of the Allston Civic Association to avoid all Fridays, Uno's, Applebee's and 99 restaurants. Oh, and those places usually have full alcohol licenses.

Well, it's the food I would avoid at those places, but their stance is completely ridiculous and reminds me of the temperance movement.

Sigh.... Boston

Was just in Raleigh visiting friends, and pretty much every place that serves food had beer and wine, even the local sub or pizza shop. And you know what, the world wasn't falling apart. Maybe we just have too many college students or something, but it's always amazing how prudish we can sometimes be. (Then again, I'm sure the politics of liquor licenses has a large play in this as well...)

ridiculous...

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I'm floored by these results - the eight people who voted this down should be ashamed of themselves. They've either willfully acted against the best interests of their own community, or in complete ignorance.

Are the names of the ACA members listed somewhere online? How about an official voting record? I'd like to know who these people are, and find out where they all fall on this. It defies logic.

If I lived in Allston, I'd be

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If I lived in Allston, I'd be voting to outlaw alcohol and universities.

That would make for a fun place to live

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Hardly any restaurants could survive without the margins from liquor sales, and all the entertainment venues would shut down. But that's fine, if you don't care about having interesting things to do in your neighborhood then just go live in the suburbs and eat at Chili's/Friday's/Applebee's and entertain yourself with awful movies at the multiplex or five hours of crappy TV every night.

That might sound just fine to some people, but recognize that others are willing to put up with some obnoxious kids in exchange for the cool restaurants and live music venues that wouldn't exist without them.

beyond nimbyism...

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Time and time again, this group votes along some bizarre fantasy idea that they can restore Allston into some prudish 1950s suburb that it never was...I'm certain their intentions are good, but don't they realize how much their decisions are actually hurting the neighborhood?

These People are the Worst

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'family restaurants shouldn't serve beer or wine' Seriously? What day and age are we living in? Do these boneheads realize you could get a beer at Fuddruckers? Did they have the same objections to Regina going into the old Sports Depot?

Does the Allston Civic Association hate everything? To be honest with you I don't even know who these dullards are. Try Googling them and finding a current website, it's next to impossible. So even as a resident you can't raise a concern or have a voice, since you can never A. Find them B. Determine when and where they meet. These people are bunch of clowns.

I'm not even saying Allston-Brighton should be turned into a party zone for students. So I'm not some ignorant 29 year-old. But I'm smart enough to realize the benefits of a well established pizza joint or a roast beef shop allowed to stay open to 2am, unlike the moes that sit on this association.

"So even as a resident you

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"So even as a resident you can't raise a concern or have a voice, since you can never A. Find them B. Determine when and where they meet."

This is a very valid point. I believe the city of Boston needs to take action on this. The Allston Civic Association makes it very difficult for members of the community to take part in the meetings.

ACA regular meeting time

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As I'm to understand, the ACA meets the third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM in the Honan library.

Now...how you become a voting member of the Association is anyone's guess. From what I've heard before, you basically have to kiss Paul Berkeley's assring...oh, and vote however he wants you to vote.

Berkeley sounds like a beaut

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http://www.krefetzlaw.com/50610BostonBulletin.html

Only ACA members can vote on proposals at ACA meetings. Berkeley said that he does not allow people to join at the meetings in order to prevent those who come before them from stacking the meeting with friends.

Krefetz, whose office is located in Allston and lives in Brighton, said he has tried to get Berkeley to explain to him how one goes about joining the ACA but has not been satisfied with the answer.

“He told me to email him and then practically ran from the room,” Krefetz said.

just so ridiculous....

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They really have no right to complain about western ave now.

NIMBY

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NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY

jerks.

It's pretty ironic that

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It's pretty ironic that Today's Buy With Me is for Stone Hearth Pizza. Who knew that group deals could be made with such an uncouth company.

Insane

Okay, I have major issues with the folks who want to tell me that I'm in the wrong for disliking drunk, screaming college students parading up and down my small residential street at 2 AM. (These folks usually tell me I should have thought of that before I moved in, when in fact my family lived there long before it became part of the "student ghetto.")

BUT - I've also lived here long enough to remember that "Allston Village" has become a lively neighborhood nothing like it was when I was growing up. Specifically, the wealth of restaurants of so many types, and the live music clubs, definitely bring much that is good to the area.

Western Avenue is desperately in need of some fresh business development, after Harvard killed off most of what had been there, and something that encourages a bit of nightlife seems like a big plus. That whole area has never had much in the way of street life - how could a Stone Hearth Pizza not be a good thing? What the HELL are those lame-assed NIMBYists on the Allston Civic Association thinking?

"something that encourages a

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"something that encourages a bit of nightlife"...

That's the thing... this place would close at 10pm on Fri/Sat, and 9pm on weeknights. So even those who are frightened to death of extra "nightlife" have absolutely nothing to worry about.

This is exactly the kind of business we need around here. This anti-neighborhood decision by those who are supposedly looking out for our best interests is maddening.

My point exactly

Yes, my point exactly. While I could do with a few fewer of the ridiculous number of bars in Allston Village area, I don't want the sidewalks to roll up after sunset. Business neighborhoods are SAFER if there's more foot traffic and activity.

I have attended someof the

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I have attended someof the Allston Civic Association meetings and they are some of rudest and most self centered people I have ever met. It is 20 people who spend their time complaining and trying to make the lives of business owners and citizens of the community(who are mainly students) much more difficult.

This organization doesn't respresent our community,and something needs to change. We need to get people to show up to these meetings and vote based on the interest of the community.

Stone Hearth should be able to open their establishment in Allston! This is just one example of the numerous businesses that they refuse to support.

ACA blows it...big time

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Where in the flying fuck do these people go out to eat? They shouldn't be welcome there any more. I'm sure those places probably also serve alcohol. They probably also serve students from time to time. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If the rest of us aren't allowed to have a decent Italian/Pizza joint because they serve beer, then those people who voted no shouldn't be allowed to patron the places that serve beer that already do exist.

That goes for supermarkets and liquor stores, too. I'm sure the rest of us don't want to hear the noise in their neighborhood when they get drunk at home and beat their wives and/or kids.

Protecting the Brotherly Organizations

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AKA quasi-legal "bars" run by the fraternal orgainizations.

Seems to be a big thing in MA generally: run a "bar" in a "dry" area, then get all your buddies to shoot down any other type of establishment based on temperance movement rhetoric. Sound good in public, but protect your watering hole while keeping membership strictly controlled, ya know!

how does one get on the ACA?

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are they elected, because they DO NOT speak for me or my interests.

Here's what you can do......

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I just spoke to our city councilman, Mark Ciommo, and he gave me a list of people to contact if you're against this absurd vote. I'm urging everyone to email the Mayor, the President of the Allston Brighton Civic Association, and fax the licensing board (nope, they don't share their email address).

Mayors office: Dan Roan, [email protected]

President of Allston Brighton Civic Association: Paul Berkeley, [email protected]

Assistant to Mark Ciommo: Jason Wright: [email protected],

Licensing board: fax to 635-4742

Thanks,
Amie

emailed all three!

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thanks for the info. I have contacted all three.

Stone Hearth Pizza is unobtrusively in Porter Square

and causes exactly zero problems for the surrounding neighborhood. Perhaps the Allston Civic Association should visit Porter Square before taking ignorant votes like this?

Also, do they realize that Stone Hearth is now in *Belmont* which was dry for decades?

I can't see what that guy was

I can't see what that guy was arguing for, since you have to pay to read the full article.

But I'm not happy about the plans to redesign Mass Ave in East Arlington. They're taking away an outbound travel lane to make a landscaped median. This will seriously screw up traffic, especially for bus commuters, since buses can't use alternate routes and a late bus leads to cascading delays up and down the line.

The road is wide enough for two general-use lanes, a bike lane, and parking in each direction, plus left turn lanes at intersections and big parking lot entrances.

For other recent examples of road narrowings seriously messing things up, see Mass Ave through MIT, and Prospect Street in Central Square. A similar project is in the works for JFK Street in Harvard Square.

Not directly

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But the Boston Licensing Board won't issue a liquor license without input from a given neighborhood's civic association - and recommendations from the mayor's office to the licensing board on all license requests are typically based on votes at association meetings. That doesn't mean the licensing board has to agree, however - the board agreed to let the Harvard Ave. McDonald's stay open until 2 a.m over the strenuous objections of the ACA (whose vote was taken at a meeting at which McDonald's supporters were shouted down, including the lawyer whose site was linked to above).

The real problem isn't the ACA

The way I see it, the problem isn't the ACA. Anybody can form a small group of people to vote against something. The problem seems to be the Licensing board's regard for the ACA. If the board sees the ACA for what it really is - a small, tight group of anti-anything people - then they should pretty much ignore any input from the ACA.

The ACA reminds me of the Friends of the Fells who are unwilling to accept mountain bikes at the Fells.

I don't understand what the

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I don't understand what the ACA is. It isn't a governmental board, correct? So, it really has no influence on license decisions. If it is a governmental organization it is subject to the open meeting law.

It seems hard to believe a non-governmental organization gets to approve or reject liquor licenses, or business hours.

Representative government?

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Things like this are usually run past the neighborhood associations. The neighborhood association doesn't have absolute say though.

If no one seems to understand

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Start your own revolution and cut out the middle man.
-Billy Bragg

Upset? Change it!

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To change this please join the ACA! The rules for joining are a bit unclear, but doable. One way is to attend 3 meetings in a row, sign in, and then you can become a voting member on your third meeting.

As someone said, meetings are at 6:30 on the 3rd Wednesday of a month at the library in Allston. However, yesterday's meeting started at 6pm - the way I find out is from joining this group:
http://groups.google.com/group/AllstonBrighton2006... which usually sends out the agenda (with starting time) a few days before the meeting.

As one of the 6 member minority voting in support of the Stone Hearth Pizza yesterday, if you think your neighborhood association should be better representing your interests and opinions: get involved!

Police have always opposed new liquor licences in A.B.

At every hearing I've gone to, the police have always opposed new liquor licenses.

There could be many reasons why this place was not supported, not all necessarily above board. However it's impossible to ignore how much police time and attention is devoted to drunks of one kind or another in this neighborhood.

These boards and councils from what I have seen do not believe that a liquor license is necessary to run a restaurant. I'm not sure I agree with them.

But as long as our standards of behavior are so low, and we live in a dense neighborhood where one problem apartment can keep 17 others awake til 4:30 every Thursday, then this board will always have an excuse to limit supply.

Drunks in that neighborhood?

However it's impossible to ignore how much police time and attention is devoted to drunks of one kind or another in this neighborhood.

Really? Drunks in that neighborhood? At Western Avenue and North Harvard Street? That's very surprising - I follow the police reports on Allston pretty closely, and I just don't recall seeing reports of arrests for underage drinking, disorderly houses, or anything of that type in that part of Allston.

That's right!

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And we don't want to START seeing anything of that type in that part of Allston either!! And it ALL starts with the family restaurants! Got it?!

/sarcasm

Allston beer and Whine

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If you don't like the way the ACA operates, SHOW UP AND JOIN.
It would only take about 8 people who are reasonable about such things to join and attend meetings and swing the vote on matters like this.

FYI the ACA does not have final say on this, The Licensing Board does. You can still show up at their hearing and voice your opinion if you like,

When it comes before the licensing board, I'll post

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They usually post their agendas the week before, so I'll post something when I see it show up. The main problem with licensing-board hearings is they start at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays; not everybody can make those, obviously.

HAHA The start times on these

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HAHA The start times on these are too funny. 6pm on Wednesday? 10am on Wednesday? Hilarious. Heck even an elementry school PTA meeting doesn't start until 7pm. By the time you leave work and deal with the 57 and get home it's already 7.

Ah, yes, that old canard

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Because I don't have other things to do at 6 PM on a Wednesday (btw, I was still at work yesterday at 6 PM). Because it's so easy to figure out what time the meeting is starting ("normal" time according to the papers is 6:30 PM, but it turns out the meeting started at 6 yesterday because of how many agenda items there were...which you'd only know by keeping track of the e-mail list and reading the 40 word unformatted email announcement of the agenda).

THEN, I've gotta go to 3 of them (in a row?) just to even get a vote (that rule is written in what bylaws exactly?), because evidently that's the only way to keep "outsiders" from voting.

THEN, I've gotta argue why a restaurant that sells alcohol is better than a derelict ex-gas station, in every single possible way, against people who act as if Stone Hearth Pizza is a gateway drug to nightclubs and the dreaded obnoxious college student?

Well...at least I've got a month to think about jumping into THAT sack of insanity just to keep morons from steering the ship...and then 2-3 more months after that before I can do anything about it.

This may very well be the

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This may very well be the issue that breaks the ACA's back. After the McDonald's debacle they were already on thin ice, and this latest bone-headed move has more than a few people I know riled up enough to do something about it. I think they're going to see a sudden increase in new membership in about 4 months time.

To paraphrase Yngwie: They've unleashed the f'in fury.

The problem with Stone Hearth

From what I read the ACA was concerned that when you let a new liquor license in, then you have set a precedent for the area that will allow future applicants to go further.

And this is bad why?

That area could benefit from at least 5 more restaurants with licenses. Wouldn't you rather it looked like Inman Square instead of what it does now?

How is that a problem with Stone Hearth?

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That sounds like more of a problem with logic.

When you let in a new liquor license for Stone Hearth to serve beer and wine with pasta and pizza family dinners...then you know what that leads to? NOTHING AT ALL unless you choose to let it.

The first bar/nightclub/strip joint that asks for a liquor license approval to go in next door gets denied. Simple as that. Family restaurants aren't gateway drugs.

Grow up and be the parents of your situation. If my brother got a lollipop so I say, well, I haven't been *that* bad, can I have a lollipop? My mom would say no and I'd say why not, he got one! She'd say (and this is key, here, people): You are not him.

Boom. Slippery slope DENIED.

The idea that you'd deny any particular restaurant before you, who is trying to improve your neighborhood...for the sins of Allston Village?...for the sins of future bars to come?...for the sins of your past mistakes in approving liquor licenses?...for absolutely nothing to do with them? It's absolutely absurd.

ACA

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Did any of the three hooka joints have problems opening up or face opposition from the ACA?

Hookah bars?

Why do you ask? None of them has a liquor license, and none of them seems to be a nexus of bad behavior.

Yep and continue to

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They do and in fact, Nile Lounge has been refused a liquor license by the ACA just because the city health department is shutting down smoking establishments like cigar bars and hookah bars. One member of ACA said that Nile was only asking for a liquor license as a hedge against the city's phasing-out of indoor smoking establishments.

Of course, to which I say, have you ever been to a hookah bar that doesn't serve drinks too? And I also say, so what if they want to stay in business after the hookahs have to be put away in 9 years?

Again, I guess it's better to have an unoccupied hole than a business that hasn't caused any trouble since it moved in.

So if you're of the mind that "if we say yes to one, we can't say no later" and you also think that a hookah bar is an example of how this kind of slippery slope leads away from pizza restaurants... then this is a prime example of where they seem to be able to say No (for some other entirely specious reasoning)...and thus it's not a slippery slope.

Then the ACA would have voted away the neighborhood character

Doesn't work that way. One of the determining factors when somebody comes for a variance is the present "character of the neighborhood" (that area does not have bars.)

If the ACA approved this they would have effectively altered the existing zoning plan and changed the character of the neighborhood, and the next applicant for a variance could not be denied as a matter of introducing alcohol to a neighborhood not zoned for alcohol. In addition, the residents would lose that arrow in their quiver if they ever had to sue the licensing board or zba over another variance.

The solution is to rewrite the zoning for the neighborhood to include the kinds of restaurants you want, not turn the whole thing over to the variance process, because then it's really out of your control.

neighborhood character

I knew you all would get hung up on that. If you have ever gone to one of these meetings you will see the lawyer for the applicant present data about how whatever they want to build is not a big deal because some surrounding geographic area (aka neighborhood) already has high rises, or bars, or dogs or what-have-you.

I'm not against this restaurant, but I think the people on the ACA deserve some consideration for erring on the side of caution when it comes to new alcohol licenses.

No they don't.

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Look, it's not that hard:

New bar, serving booze and snacks, open until 2 a.m. = No, fuck off.

New restaurant, serving food and offering beer or wine (and those only to people eating food), open until 10 or 11 p.m. = Welcome, neighbor!

The ACA can take their slippery slope argument and shove it up their collective ass.

Hey, Painter's right

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I mean, this state wouldn't be where it is if it didn't err on the side of caution. Do you realize how many covens there would be if folks in Salem didn't make sure their town fathers "deserved some consideration" every time they listened to a child call a woman a witch. Do you realize how many of us would be newts if they listened to reason instead of just burning those women just to be safe? Or how about our great nation? If Sen. McCarthy didn't stand up to those filthy red filmmakers, writers and en-till-eck-tu-alls, we'd all be reading Pravda and building MiGs right now. God, get it through your thick skulls people -- they're doing it for your own good. Pizza and beer are THE DEVIL!!!

Neighborhood Character

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In the rest of the world, this is called a shit hole. Only in Boston does living in a shit hole considered an important thing to preserve because change is too scary! Scary! Scary!

Alcohol zones?

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I don't think such a beastie exists. Zoning laws do restrict where you can put restaurants in general and takeout in particular.

But booze is up to the licensing board, which can and does take neighborhood character and concerns into consideration, but it's hardly the same sort of rigid legal requirements you get into with zoning - which is how you can have a licensing board that decides a McDonald's can only open until 11 p.m. and then lets a Kelly's right across the street open until 2 a.m. (and then, after the McDonald's complains and threatens to shut down, changes its mind).

Character of that neighborhoood? We're talking about a large oddball intersection with not much there, once you move the apartment complex, which Harvard wants to do. The proposed location sits between Harvard's giant Field of Nothingness and a 7-Eleven. It's not like they're talking about replacing Bicycle Bill's or sticking it right next to the library.

With all due respect,

this neighborhood needs some character. This strech of Western Ave. has kind of been a dump over the last 25 years. A nice place like Stone Hearth Pizza would really be a positive addition to the neighborhood in my opinion.

Plus this really isn't a "college" neighborhood either.

This Allston Civic Association is really just a bunch of people who work hard for Consalvo, and Consalvo backs up whatever they want because in reality, they are the only people who are active in Allston politics. That's the impression I get anyway.

I do like the bus stop pub though.

What are you talking about?

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"...that area does not have bars..."

No bars, just a pub, a hotel bar, and oh yeah, another pub.

Actually, what it doesn't have is a family sit-down restaurant (unless you count the aforementioned hotel lobby place). Talk about changing the character of the neighborhood.

Joyful Garden

To be fair, my understanding is that Joyful Garden is very much a "family sit-down restaurant," quite popular with large family groups. It's also supposed to serve unexpectedly good Cantonese food, although it's far enough out of my own neck of the woods that I haven't been there myself.

it's an abandoned gas station

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it's an abandoned gas station across the street from a housing project. some character. also the bus stop is a bar and is a block away.

I understand that you guys are so mad at Harvard that you don't even want them to be able to rent their own land but you're cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Abandoned?

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I don't think the site was "abandoned". Harvard bought it, then closed the gas station.

The police tend to oppose all new liquor license because they feel they have enough to deal with already. Harvard Ave/Comm Ave and various house parties, not to mention street fights, keep them busy. Once the license is there, it can be transferred to another owner. It is very hard to get rid of it, no matter how bad.

All you folks screaming about the ACA, try and get a NEW license in any of the surrounding towns - Newton, Brookline, Watertown or Cambridge. Suburbs are WAY more difficult, with far less reason, than Boston.

Harvard turned huge swaths of the neighborhood into vacant lots and buildings, with no thought. The neighborhood should take its time.

And by the way, the area is NOT majority student.

Really?

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"Harvard turned huge swaths of the neighborhood into vacant lots and buildings, with no thought. The neighborhood should take its time."

And thereby KEEP it a huge swath of vacant lots and buildings? Yeah, that's better. That's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better. Good thinking!

Big difference between beer-wine and full liquor license

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As a retired Detective who once handled liquor and licensing issues, it should be noted that there's a big difference between a wine and malt license and an all-alcohol (or full) liquor license. Obviously the wine and malt license sought here is far more restrictive. While that license alone should help curtail the barrooom atmosphere, the license board can also set strict restrictions like no wine/malt after 10 pm, no neons or other wine/malt advertising etc. Lastly, violations of the license, even minor ones, can easily lead to suspension and revocation. I have no dog in this fight, but have seen licenses done correctly, to the point where former opponents begin to enjoy patronizing a place.

remember this one?

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http://www.universalhub.com/2010/mcdonalds-says-it...

same group, similar problems with facing the realities of life today. a guy named harry asked at this meeting what would happen if he went into McD's at 1am with his kids and got knifed...

at the kelley's ACA meeting they didnt vote on kelleys closing hours because it was "too important", but they did vote against the Unique Chinese restaurant's closing hours. I guess they weren't as important.

at another recent meeting one of the old guys said "they dont even have drug stores here (in Allston) anymore!" wow. if you really want a good time, listen to harry talk about how "were trying to save the neighborhood" when reviewing the internal color scheme of the 100% green Eco Pizzeria, whose closing hours they also turned down.

Its hard to sit through sometimes, but for those of us who are trying to help this group accept change and actually help allston develop, we could really use your help - so....

3rd wednesday of every month at honan library 6pm. 3x and you can vote. its worth it.

and...

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and, not *all* the folks at these meetings agree with the nonsense.

with just a little bit more participation these votes will start going very, very differently...the votes are on the order of 8-to-6 so its not a huge amount of commitment needed to start changing things...