Back Bay might have to brace for more booze

The Boston Licensing Board has long acquiesced to a Back Bay neighborhood group's request to only approve new liquor licenses in the neighborhood after an existing license holder shuts down or moves out.

No more, board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer said today.

"That's certainly not a practice I endorse," she said at a hearing on catering company's request to buy a Fairfield Street restaurant's liquor license for the affairs it hosts at the Boston Public Library main branch in Copley Square.

"A lot of people will be happy to hear that," replied Dennis Quilty, the dean of Boston licensing lawyers, who was before the board representing the Catered Affair, which now has to apply for one-day permits every time somebody hires it to hold a wedding or other event in the library.

Ferrer's comments came after Quilty said the company was planning to spend $412,500 for the liquor license now held by the Saratoga Restaurant on Fairfield Street. He said the Catered Affair had agreed to spend so much because of the board's longstanding policy - put into place before the governor appointed Ferrer to the board - to go along with the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay's opposition to any increase in the total number of liquor licenses in the Back Bay. The association has long said the Back Bay has enough places at which people can get lubricated.

One byproduct of that policy has been to make Back Bay liquor licenses the most expensive in the city, because of the limited number. In 2010, NABB formally opposed the then proposed Deux Ave restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue because the request went before the licensing board before Louis, which held the liquor license Deux Ave would buy, had actually moved out of the neighborhood.

The board requires applicants to meet with neighborhood groups first, but is under no legal authority to go along what those groups recommend.

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Comments

its just sickening how

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its just sickening how NIMBYism is.. if they keep this up eventually these neighborhoods will just be lots of "For Lease" signs and empty store fronts because no one will want to try to open a business if they have to put up with this crap trying to open a business.

Sh*t folks, stop with the NIMBYisms...

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$412,500

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And there is your explanation why most of the new places opening in Boston are either chains or part of an established restaurant group. If you want to open a new place and you are just starting out, forget Boston.

If Back Bay had enough liquor

If Back Bay had enough liquor licenses, then there would be no money in seeking new ones, and thus little demand for them. Since there appears to be huge demand for new ones, Back Bay clearly doesn't have enough.

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Agreed

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I often hear this same attitude in other parts of the city. "Oh, we have enough bars/restaurants already."

I always want to ask them: Who appointed you czar of bars?

Increases prices too

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Want to know why a flipping bud light costs $5.50-5.75 in this city? Don't get me started about micro drafts. Or the lack of happy hour deals. Or the food prices at anything that isn't cheap takeout.

Lack of options and the huge expenses of liquor licenses drive up prices.

Happy hours

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Can't blame the city or the licensing board for the lack thereof. It's a state regulation that goes back to the days of Mike Dukakis.