Licensing board says enough's enough: Pulls liquor license from unopened Downtown Crossing restaurant

45 Province's empty restaurant

The Boston Licensing Board voted yesterday to cancel the liquor license for a still unopened restaurant at the 45 Province luxury high-rise project.

45 Province spent $225,000 for a liquor license in 2008 in anticipation of finding somebody to operate the three-story restaurant it was including in its development. But with the economy fading, the restaurant operator with whom the developers had been negotiating couldn't get financing.

At a hearing Tuesday, the developers pleaded with the board for 90 more days to try to find somebody, saying that with the economy and Downtown Crossing both showing signs of recovery, they were beginning to get more inquiries into the space. They said they were even willing to reduce rents in an attempt to get a restaurant going, in part because condo buyers had been promised private access to the restaurant. Without a liquor license, finding somebody to open a restaurant there would prove even more difficult, they said.

However, liquor-license owners are supposed to use it or lose it - they are not allowed to just sit on licenses and, in fact, face hearings if police notice their establishments are closed.

Board member Michael Connolly seemed willing to grant an extension, because the winter after Christmas is a rough time for the restaurant business, but board members Nicole Murati Ferrer and Suzanne Ianella questioned the fairness of letting 45 Province continue to not use the license when there were other restaurants across the city that could use the license right away. The number of liquor licenses in Boston is limited by state law and the board currently has no free licenses to grant.

45 Province can appeal the board's decision to the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and, after that, file a suit in Suffolk Superior Court, so the board's vote doesn't mean it will immediately offer the license to somebody else.

In a separate vote, the board agreed to give the owners of the shuttered Nonna's Market on North Street in the North End 90 days to find an investor and re-open their shop, which has a beer and wine license, in another location. Unlike 45 Province, Nonna's had been open for business until last month.



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Just awful

Once again, somebody who just wants to sell liquor and not cause any trouble gets screwed by this awful state.

Boston's one of the best cities in the world...why can't we just affiliate with a state that has a frickin' clue? Why are we still a part of awful Massachusetts?

Voting is closed. 31

This is outrageous. Were the

By on

This is outrageous. Were the members of the licensing commission angry because they weren't getting enough action out of their little scam? The whole damned thing stinks like shit. Who is benefiting from this nonsense? This is not about New England Puritanism or whatever. Someone must be getting actual cash for propping this flim-flam up against all reason.


Voting is closed. 24

Didja actually read the story?

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The entire problem is that these people WERE NOT selling liquor! This is a liquor license held in limbo by these morons who have been trying to open a restaurant in Downtown Crossing for three years, but who haven't been able to pull their heads out of their asses long enough to accomplish that.

Pulling their liquor license means that this liquor license can go to a restaurant that is actually open and has customers instead of being stuck with these idiots who will more than likely never be able to find a restaurant owner dumb enough to get in bed with them.

I'm shocked that you need to have this explained to you.

Voting is closed. 9

No, the point is ...

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... that there is no reason at all that whether some restaurant across town can sell liquor should depend on whether there is a restaurant at 45 Province selling liquor.

Voting is closed. 19

Precisely. Any sane state

Precisely. Any sane state allows any qualified business to pay a fee, prove they have undergone training and whatever other licensing requirements, and then hey presto: full license.

Troublemaking places should be revoked, of course, but it should be dead easy to get the initial license. Artificially restricting the supply in this way makes no sense whatever and furthermore leads to these quarter million dollar prices that automatically narrow just what sort of place can even afford to have a license; oftentimes it's more valuable than the (existing) business itself. Thus the end of little mom and pop corner bars around the city.

Voting is closed. 9

yes but unfortunately until

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yes but unfortunately until the state/legislature changes the law to issue more liquor licenses, then we have to hope the licensing board continues doing what they just did -- take away licenses from people who are not using them so that others can put them to use!

Voting is closed. 9

bringing in the grease bringing in the grease

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i miss the little neighborhood bars get a pizza and a pitcher of draft watch the ballgame on a sunday afternoon chew the fat with the beer ball teams or a game of darts. but now you have to water the drinks and deal with the low lifes to pay the mortgage on your license and grease some palms. like taxis they make money off the poor suckers that rent them. in philly they have one store for booze another for a six pack of beer. if you want a case 24 cans another store just for that and dry towns thrown in the mix. so you know thier are a lot of people selling under the table. these booze laws are just set up for curuption from top to bottom. just ask prisoner xxxx former senator.

Voting is closed. 8

But until that happens...

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Why should these numbnuts get to sit on a liquor license they're not using?

Voting is closed. 29

Because now what happens?

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No restaurant is going to want to open up in 45 Province since they won't have a waiting liquor license while the Licensing Board now has a spare just sitting around waiting for a project they "like" shows up to buy it off of them.

I mean, I know everyone wants one supposedly, but it doesn't sound like the Board is ready to give it away tomorrow...and they've disabled 45 Province's ability to not only bring in a restaurant, but also condo owners (since private restaurant access was one of their selling points).

Voting is closed. 12

They should have just left the the Littlest Bar

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They should have just left the Littleist Bar, which had more customers per square foot at all times than probably any other place in the country. And the smoked mackerel, plain or heated in a sealed bag in the dishwasher, was five star.

Voting is closed. 27


By on

but that's not the case here. they aren't hoarding the license. In any case the system here insures that lquor licenses cost six figures and makes it more difficult for an independant restaurant or bar to exist. That explains why every other establishment in Boston is a corporate enterprise or is backed by a so-called celebrity chef.

In other words, its another reason why Boston is losing any creative edge it once had and is becoming a giant mall.

Voting is closed. 25

Mormon type group?

Um, do you remember who signed the legislation removing the Sunday liquor ban blue law?

That said, it wouldn't be a problem if Boston decided to join the real world and simply issued licenses based on the owner and premises meeting minimum criteria. That is the rule that we should have.

Voting is closed. 10

Licensing board says enough's enough:

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I have been a bartender for the better part of the last 28 years.

The Licensing Board should attend to the rapid proliferation of Happy Hours, banned in MA in '83, the tolerance of people leaving bars on Boylston St. with drinks and clothing stores offering wine when they don't even have licenses.

The 45 Province St. was adequately served by the Littlest Bar and the adjacent Kennedy's. If 45 Province so wanted a bar they should have gotten a commitment from an operator rather than assuming that the development would attract an operator.

Yeah, it stinks but 45 Province forced the Board's hand. 3 years of an unused license?

Right now Boston proper is more than well served by existing establishments.

I write as a bartender.

Voting is closed. 9

Thank PeeWee Dukakis

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for that infringement, too.

@#$%ing Nanny Stater.

Voting is closed. 32

Actually that law, though

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Actually that law, though passed during Dukakis's term, was not drafted by his office. (The US military banned happy hours at base facilities/officers' clubs that same year - I remember the big "last happy hour" events).

Oh, and you probably remember that Mass got a lot of grief from the republicans for that law - but do you remember what the Reagan administration said we should do instead of banning happy hours? They were in favor of nationwide laws which would make bar and restaurant owners legally liable for any injury or damages to or by drunk patrons. Hows that for nanny-state mentality!

Voting is closed. 30