JP Whole Foods to seek permission for a patio

The grocery store goes before the Boston Licensing Board next Wednesday for permission to sell prepared food for consumption on the premises - including on a 16-seat outdoor patio it wants to operate in nice weather between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Licensing board hearings start at 10 a.m. in the board's 8th floor hearing room at City Hall.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Comments

Because this is Boston, of course

There are actually two issues. One is they need a license to act as a restaurant, basically. Those hearings are usually very routine - the applicant shows up, explains what sort of food they'll serve and what hours they're requesting. And then, unless they're asking for permission to stay open until, say, 2 a.m., they get their license.

The other is because Boston, for whatever reasons, makes you justify a patio even if, as in this case, it's entirely on private property. I suspect it has to do with possible noise for neighbors, but don't really know.

Kind of like

Kind of like that dumbass rule that you're not allowed to order drinks on a patio unless you also order food. Even if said patio is completely fenced in and only accessible by walking through the restaurant.

I wish somebody in the media

would actually take the time to investigate and report on how much time and effort, and how much of the taxpayer's money, is being wasted by the Boston Licensing Board, the Inspectional Services Division, et al, with their unecessary application processes, hearings, etc. etc.. Especially when they take the word of neighborhood groups who have no legal standing as gospel.

Then perhaps the public will truly understand the concept of needless government bureauracy, and how bad it's really gotten.

Having to apply for a permit to open a patio is bad enough, but now the "asthetic police" make you go to ISD just to put in a satelite dish on your private property.

Leave the neighborhood groups out

No, really. They're not the problem, and to be honest, I'm glad neighborhood groups exist, they keep these businesses and City Hall somewhat honest, and people who get annoyed with them and think we should let businesses do whatever the hell they want forget that's how we got Charles River Park (oh, sorry, the West End Apartments).

The real problems are a) State laws (from restricting the number of liquor licenses in Boston to banning liquor service without food) and b) bureaucratic bungling between City Hall and 1010 Mass. Ave.

Every single frickin' week now, restaurant/bar owners have to show up before the licensing board to explain why they have expired inspection/health permits on their walls. Invariably, the problem is they applied well before their old permits expired, but then ISD, for whatever reasons, never sent them a new license.

And I've lost count of the number of applicants (invariably, owners of small start-up places who can't afford to hire Dennis Quilty, if they even know he exists) who get in trouble because they go down to ISD and get all the required permits there and then ask "anything else?" and are told "nope, all set" - only to learn when a cop shows up for a routine inspection that, oops, they needed a food-serving license from the licensing board at City Hall. It's really amazing that ISD has such a block when it comes to stuff like this.

They'd be more effective if

They'd be more effective if they could actually fire the incompetents. I know of one individual who was fired from ISD twice for negligence and incompetence who was able to successfully sue TWICE to get his job back.

He then held up my building permit (for no reason other than he is a lazy douche) and cost me ~$15,000 for the delay.

Yeah

If we stopped doing all that, maybe we'd have enough government money left to license all of those pesky bikes. And we could stop worrying about "asthetics"--I mean, who cares what Boston actually looks like? Having six satellite dishes clustered like fungi on the front of every building is awwwwesome.

It's just another way to

It's just another way to grease palms at City Hall and let the NIMBYs get some protesting in. There has to be an opportunity to claim this is gentrification and that a big corporation is just trying to steal business away from neighborhood restaurants..

No patio is being added.

Whole Foods is asking for permission to put chairs and tables outside its store on the existing concrete patio under the existing front overhang. This is where people sit all the time anyway, so it would be nice to have real chairs there!

The best news about this

is that Whole Foods has gone ahead and filed its application with the City, even though the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council tried to block them. There is overwhelming support across JP for the addition of seating at the store and I hope the Licensing Board approves the application.

And that's why you should get on the council

People - like the ones above - complain all the time about these neighborhood groups but forget that they are made up of your neighbors. If you want these groups to be more permissive - sign up. However, don't be surprised that once you hear some of the history of why they take certain positions you begin to agree with them. There have been some notoriously bad experiences which is why many of these initiatives are opposed - although you'll also probably realize that 95% of the stuff gets passed as a matter of course and it's only when the neighborhood is opposed to something that it ends up in the paper.

My favorite example is the new Joe's on Newbury - the neighborhood group opposed the initial architecture - it was terrible. Joe's came back with a new proposal - the nighborhood still opposed but it got passed and in my honest opinion it's a success on most fronts (except that I believe there have been noise complaints when they leave the sliders open too late - I think they make them close the sliders at 10 pm now - a reasonable compromise for everyone).

This is how the system should work. Nobody got 100% but in the end I think the city got the best balance for the buck.

'Zactly

These groups have no official standing.

But...

The ones that have a track record of being reasonable, inclusive, committed to open and transparent process, and stable over the long term, tend to get listened to.

Compare the well-established neighborhood groups in, say, the North End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay, which have, IIRC, about one or two longstanding neighborhood groups each, with the South End, where the neighborhood groups have continued to splinter and fragment like the church in Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegone. The more broadly representative neighborhood groups have an awful lot more claim to legitimately speaking for the neighborhood, and therefore a lot more clout than the fragmented ones who can't agree with each other over anything.