Russians would much rather drink liquor with food, lawyer says

The Boston Licensing Board today approved a request from the Russian Benevolent Society, 14-20 Linden St. in Allston, to serve dinner seven days a week.

The society, originally set up as a private club, had been open to the public Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. The board's amendment to its license means it will be open the other four days of the week as well.

Paul Berkeley, president of the Allston Civic Association, said his group was concerned that the society was slowly morphing into a nightclub or bar in the middle of a residential area.

Society attorney Richard Vetstein denied that, however, saying the society had no desire to change a license restriction that requires that liquor be served only with food.

In fact, pairing liquor with food is "a Russian ethnic tradition," he said. "They don't drink straight (liquor), contrary to popular belief."

In addition to the new hours, the society wants to convert an existing garage in the building into a dining room to handle private parties of up to 30 people.

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Paul Berkeley antic #343

...morphing into a nightclub or bar in the middle of a residential area.

Is he calling the hobos sleeping in the railyard behind the place part of the "residential" area...or does he think the motorists stuck in place at the Allston tolls on the Pike in the morning counts as residency? That particular area is BARELY residential and I wouldn't call it the middle of anything in particular.

Exactly!

PB and the ACA are a whole other story, as we all know... but exactly: that building is the crappy end to a crappy street that could use some legitimate business activity/human presence. I think these folks have been a quiet presence for many years, and I get the feeling they want to be left alone and do their thing; I have toured the building for work (4 years ago, during the day when empty) and it was surreal, like a hidden corner of Moscow, including a steam room scene and a huge capacity. I remember being confused as to what I was seeing, like I was on a Hollywood set for a mobster's hangout (and I say that based on the somewhat garish look, not the customers (who weren't there).

Some apartment buildings across the street

Though, the residents there are creating their own problems by dumping trash on the sidewalk.

Cambridge Street is a sewer, especially around the pike. Can't say it's a particularly quiet area, it's often a traffic jam.

There's a certain constituency at the ACA meetings which opposes any and all things that might bring people into the area. You might say, it seems as if they don't want to live in a city. When they win a vote, Paul has to write up their complaints. He actually did a favor for the Russian restaurant by suggesting that they split their request into three parts. The first one (additional days) did receive support, but the other two relating to alcohol did not.

Ahem

"They don't drink straight (liquor), contrary to popular belief."
When I was visiting Russia, I saw a lot of vodka drinking straight up. They also like to smoke while drinking, so maybe that should be allowed also.

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