The owner of McDonald's franchises at Harvard and Comm Ave. and on Western Avenue wants to start opening his outlets at 5 a.m. - and to extend the Western Ave. closing time to 3 a.m. He says he's already taken steps to deal with an increasing problem with methadone patients hanging out at the Harvard Ave. location.
At a Boston Licensing Board hearing today, the Allston Civic Association opposed the hour extensions. Association President Paul Berkeley said that with some outlets seeking later hours at night and others seeking earlier hours in the morning, members are "fearful we're just going to become a 24-hour community."
The mayor's office says it could live with a 6 a.m. opening time - and 1 a.m. closing for Western Avenue - but added they would prefer to see no action on Western Avenue until after residents move into the new Charlesview complex next door and give their opinions.
The board decides tomorrow what to do.
Bob King, who owns the two franchises, says he already has people knocking on the doors of both places seeking coffee and breakfast items before they open at 7 a.m. He said 5 a.m. on Harvard Avenue would serve people waiting for the first trolley of the day - which board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer noted leaves BC at 5:01 a.m. - while the earlier hours on Western Avenue would help local residents driving off to their jobs, especially now that McDonald's has become better known for its coffee, rather than just for its breakfast items.
King and his attorney, Joshua Krefetz, acknowledged growing complaints about methadone patients from the Brighton Marine Health Center congregating in the Harvard Avenue McDonald's, but said they can't just broom them because they're not actually breaking any laws. Board member Milton Wright, a retired district-court judge, agreed and added the real answer is to give the patients a center where they could safely hang out between the time they are given their methadone and the time they have to report back for counseling.
Still, King said he has worked with the health center on a new policy under which any patients who do cause trouble at the restaurant would be booted from treatment. He said the center did just that for two patients who did get into a fight inside the McDonald's a few weeks ago and that word has gotten out among local methadone users.
Krefetz added he doubts methadone patients would start crowding the McDonald's at 5 a.m. "Nobody is getting up at 5 a.m. to get high and go to McDonald's," he said. "They'd rather sleep."
Board member Suzanne Ianella questioned the need to open that McDonald's at 5 a.m., saying a neighboring Tedeschis may already sell an Egg McMuffin-like breakfast substance at that hour.
"I don't know, but I wouldn't eat it," Krefetz retorted.