Board rejects Starbucks in City Point

No Starbucks east of Dorchester Street

NECN reports the Boston Licensing Board this morning set the border of Starbucks Nation at Dorchester Street when it sided with residents - and the mayor - and rejected a food-serving license for a Starbucks at L Street and East Broadway.

The board agreed with residents who argued yesterday there's no public need for another coffee place at an intersection that already has five within a block. Starbucks has a number of outlets in the Seaport area and on West Broadway.

The vote is another setback for building owner Michael Norton, who signed a deal with Starbucks for the space after the licensing board rejected his request for a liquor license for the Italian restaurant he wanted to put in there.



Free tagging: 


don't worry

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This is like the British defeated the Revolutionaries at the battle of bunker hill but later lost the bigger war.

The SoBo Revolution will not be stopped. It can not be stopped!!

"Here we go SoBo Here we go!!"

I can't wait

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For 5 years down the road when your living in Wellesley.


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I will be in SoBo for a long time and will continue leading the SoBo Revolution.

I will not cut and run!!


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Can't say I love the whole "SoBo" thing, but respect the fact that you plan on staying for longer than 3-5 years and actually contribute to the neighborhood unlike a good chunk of the yuppies there.

In 5 years, the Seaport high

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In 5 years, the Seaport high-rises will bring tens of thousands of high-paying jobs to your neighborhood. You'll have 3-5k new luxury apartments in the neighborhood. The people moving in will not have time to wait 20 minutes at cranbury cafe for an egg sandwich.

Enjoy the dunkin donuts protection mayor Walsh bestowed on you. It's nothing compared to what the 50mil in tax breaks he gave to GE will do to Southie by 2018.

That's a good reference.

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"Here we go Southie" was one of the chants used to terrorize black students when a mob of several thousand formed around South Boston High School in the 1970s after a black student stabbed a white student.

I'm sure that's how he meant

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I'm sure that's how he meant it. soBo Yuppy knows the ignominous history of Southie as well as anyone. Hard not to be proud, huh?

History of SoBo

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I know the history of SoBo and that is why i moved here.

I wanted to take the my anti-racism, anti-bigot and pro-progressive fight right to the front line!

So a new generations can proudly say..."SoBo your my hometown!"

But I don't think you REALLY

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But I don't think you REALLY know the history. You weren't around then and probably don't know the real details. Do you know that ALL parents were not happy about sending their 6 year old across town on a bus when there were schools in the neighborhood that they could walk to? Not just SB parents. Did you know that SB kids got spit on and rocks thrown at them in other parts of Boston? I don't think that made much news but it happened. There are so many details that you just don't hear about. Oh and I am a woman who happens to be a proud "townie" and I am married to a black woman that grew up in Roxbury. We both agree that the decision to experiment with poor black and white people back then was wrong. When you take something from people that don't have much to begin with then of course there will be anger, resentment and hostility. We don't need people that didn't experience it at all to keep it going.

Ugg! Me too. I live 3

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Ugg! Me too. I live 3 blocks away, and of the supposed 5 coffee shops in the area, I have never stepped foot in a single one more than once. If people in Southie are so staunchly for local businesses, maybe they should learn how to run a successful one?

Several Starbucks in the

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Several Starbucks in the seaport district, some of them in kiosk in hotel lobby's, they seem to be in every square inch of Boston, Dunkin donuts announced they will start delivering coffee and donuts, can you imagine if Starbucks will start delivering coffee in Boston, just think of all the office building deliveries throughout the day.

Its not so much that people

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Its not so much that people are dying for a starbucks as much as any reliable business that can draw people and give them a place to sit and leisurely enjoy a coffee, not stay at home to make coffee, because you're not likely to get one of the three seats at cranberry's. Believe me, ku de ta and even the three competing nail salons on that block would see alot more business if people could plan to go out and find a place to sit.

and next week

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"townies complain about developers using first floor for parking instead of retail"


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This was about the Starbucks inSouthie not Chatlestown.

Found one

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There's a whole big world outside of Boston. You should check it out sometime.

Except that you should know

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Except that you should know how lingo is used if you want to insult people.

Welcome to New England, transplant. If Massachusetts were a country we would have 9th smartest kids in the world. If you moved here from another part of the country, there's a good chance you came from a place that just doesn't measure up in the many ways that matter.

"Townies" are just what the rest of the country calls "average", and then you realize that the rest of the country has people below average.

This "townie" wanted it. A

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This "townie" wanted it. A few of my new neighbors didn't. It's not always what it seems. Open your mind and don't put people in a box.


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is more of a state of mind than an actual status.

There's plenty of people who are through-and-through raised in a city or neighborhood who I wouldn't call townies. Townie connotes a special level of closed-mindedness, short-sightedness, insularity, and selfishness.

and that goes the same for

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and that goes the same for people new to SB. I see all those things you describe in a few of my new neighbors. So what is their excuse??? Being so worldly and all? Stop harping on a few bad apples. Most of the townies that you are talking about are elderly that miss a time when people held the door open for one another or carried your groceries if you were having a hard time. Most of my new neighbors are terrific but some are jerks. Same shit different side of the track.

Probably because there's no

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Probably because there's no cafe where neighbors can linger anf get to know each other. Every bar has the tv on all the time and every cafelike sidewalk or cranberry has no place to sit for much longer than the time it takes to scarf down a bagel. The neighborhood has a very us v. Them feel, even when it's old southie against another from old southie or two "yuppies." There's just no public space to mingle. Going to church or having your kids on the same little league team only encompasses a small percent of the neighborhood.

What are Michael Norton's options?

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Can he appeal or sue? If I were him I'd be pissed at the City. Can't get a Liquor license, can't build a Starbucks. One assumes that are conforming uses that people would find offensive and don't require a license from the City

At this point

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He should just show up at the next Licensing Board meeting and say:

"Fine, you fucking tell me what I should put in there."

The question came up at the community meeting

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Somebody who, I think, supported the Starbucks specifically asked the opponents what they wanted.

Not a nail salon, not a bank, not a pizza place. Basically, they want the Italian restaurant Norton tried to put in.

The neighborhood probably

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The neighborhood probably forced him to include the ground floor retail in the first place.

Honestly, I can't imagine being a small business entrepreneur and consider trying to make a go of it in a neighborhood that subjects business owners to the whims of 65 "locals" (including competitors who just moved her last year from Quincy.)

Probably the reason that the main commercial drag in Southie has so many vacant buildings and everyone heads out of town on the weekend.

We all got screwed. How nice

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We all got screwed. How nice it would be to grab a decent coffee to drink while grocery shopping and running an errand at the rite aid. That Bagel Company across the street is always empty, Starbucks or no Starbucks, for good reason. Getting an egg Sandwich at Cranberry Cafe takes longer than if you went to Stop n Shop, bought eggs, went home and made it yourself. The coffee there is also not my taste. Try and go in to Maggie Moos without the desperation coming off the guy behind the counter as he tries to make you eat one of his lousy cookies, as if everyone wants 300 extra sugar calories with a coffee. I'm still not sure if Bailey's has closed, because they were never open in the first place.

Public Restrooms

Startbucks/DD has become one of the few places where the public can find a restroom. Until the city starts providing public restrooms they should approve every Starbucks/DD application for this reason alone.

Not to mention free wifi.

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Not to mention free wifi. With the library closed, where do people go for wifi if they need it?


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you can never have enough nail salons, barber shops, Metro PCS stores, check cashing places, or pawn shops as far as I know. Then again I've never really lived in a nice neighborhood. What's it like?


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The one on Centre St JP left a couple of years ago. We must be movin' on up!

must be?

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you realize a 800 sq ft condo in a multi-family home is like half a million dollars in your neighborhood right?


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I can tell you my place is certainly not worth that much.

Hyperbole, much?

800 sq ft condos in Southie

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800 sq ft condos in Southie start at $500k , and it's only going to go up and up and up in price , that is why there is so much development going on in Southie. It is no longer the back bay where people want to buy real estate these days ( it was back in the 1980s when the back bay was a hot market for real estate) many of the back bay real estate is old stock buildings with old style decor, people want fresh built new from the ground up , and there is a lot of it in Southie.

Don't forget packies for

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Don't forget packies for expired bottles of soda, off brand potato chips and lotto tickets!

He could by one.

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He tried to procure one of the homerule petition liquor licenses, you know the ones that have a very minimal cost associated with them. He has other licenses at other locations so he knows how to procure one and he has the wherewithal to purchase one from the open market. So if he wants an Italian restaurant he could have one there but he just didn't want to pay for the license. The fact that ppl are saying the city denied the location a liquor license is absurd, they just did not grant him the free one because there are very few if not none left.

Good point

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Minor point to go with it: There are two kinds of those home-rule liquor licenses: The restricted ones that can only be given in certain neighborhoods and "Main Street" districts and have to be given back to the city if the owner closes up shop and 10 unrestricted licenses that can be granted anywhere in the city and which becomes an asset the owner can sell or get a loan against. Norton went for one of those.

Sure he could buy one...only

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Sure he could buy one...only costs $300k or so? The egregious cost of a license is a major issue and the city/state is responsible for it.

I suppose that people complaining about lack of affordable housing in Boston could just plunk down $1.5M for a place in Millennium Tower too.

The $300K would be a worthwhile investment

He doesn't want to pay it, but considering the revenue from the restaurant compared to a coffee shop, I suspect he'd make more money with the former. That $300,000 amortized over ten years would easily be covered by added revenue. A license to sell liquor in the restaurant industry is a license to print money. He needs to suck it up and realize that there is no reason for his business to have a $300,000 advantage over any other restaurant.

A license to print money?

I think my take on the economics of running a restaurant in Boston is a little different from yours.

The receipts generated by the drinks you can serve with a full liquor license certainly contribute an inordinate amount to the razor-thin margins on which most restaurants in high-priced Boston neighborhoods survive. Getting a full license is often a contingency for many investors: "Fail to get the license, and we're out."

But financing that $300K up front is a major burden for first-time operators, a big drag on their drive to breaking even. That said, the transferable kind of license is one of the few assets that can be sold for cash if a restaurant fails, making it rather more valuable than just about anything else that owners put into a restaurant.

Thus, full licenses tend to be crucial to a restaurant's ability to eventually turn a profit, especially in neighborhoods like Back Bay. It's no license to print money, but an ugly, exorbitant upfront cost necessitated by the arbitrary license scarcity forced on the Boston market.

It's an obvious reason why so many of our talented young independent chefs are choosing the suburbs to open up restaurants rather than in Boston, and why shitty national chains with deep pockets are filling up neighborhoods like the Seaport instead. The cap is an absurd fossil from the days when Brahmins tried to hold onto their last fading control over Boston politics from the State House, and it's a pox on our local restaurant industry.

We are on the same page

My comment was meant to contrast a restaurant without the license. Sure, up front he needs to find a way to get that money, whether it be through investors or revenue generated by the units above the space. As you point out, the license is what makes the restaurant feasible, but if it succeeds and he doesn't need to sell the license, long term he will make a lot more money than the even more slim margin from coffee.

He wouldn't be making the

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He wouldn't be making the money on coffee if Starbucks went in, he'd be making money on rent. That's a much more predictable cash flow than running a restaurant and a lot less risky. So the margins of Starbucks aren't really relevant other than what he might be able to charge in rent.

Why doesnt the neighborhood

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Why doesnt the neighborhood pitch in and buy the license, since they wanted that restaurant so much? When does the neighborhood do anything to make the neighborhood what it "should be"? All the entitled whining about what every business owner should do for you while they try and make their living is getting old. Though, I understand that old Southie resents other people's success even (or especially) if that person is also from Southie.

So glad I'm moving in July.

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So glad I'm moving in July. So tired of this Southie BS. There isn't one decent coffee shop anywhere at City Point where you can just sit and read.

not a resident

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It's too bad you can't make a neighborhood work for you, transplant.

This is one of the nicest parts of the country, feel free to move back to the part that you left to find jobs, history, and education before you came here to complain about not having your fast food coffee.

A lot of towns, even the nice suburbs, try to maintain local businesses at the expense of chains. This is nothing new, and it happens a lot in this part of the country.

It's only nice because of all

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It's only nice because of all the new businesses moving to the seaport and bringing jobs. Irrational whining over double parking, which south bostonites love in every other situation, is not what makes Boston nice. All the people you despise make it nice. Lucky for us, we mostly work in the financial district where there's 3 starbucks per city block, yes still quite a few indy cafes.

Get over it.

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It's a Starbucks. If you immigrants want Starbucks coffee go to one on the other Starbucks in the neighborhood. The incessant whining from you drama queens is getting to be too much.

Arm sore?

From throwing rocks at school buses? I'm sick of old Southie queens whining about "outsiders". You sound like you are reading from the Jimmy Kelly / John Ciccone pamphlet of wit and wisdom.

Some people would rather

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Some people would rather maintain interesting local businesses than try to allow yet another chain in, whether they are the existing ones or new ones. You don't have to make thinly veiled insults or insinuate things about people.

The transplants from the part of the countries with chains on every block can choose other neighborhoods during their 3 year stay in the city before moving back to the suburbs.

"Interesting" businesses

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"Interesting" businesses where no one likes to go? Like Maggie Moos? That guy made no friends in the neighborhood by being one of the loudest voices to choose for the rest of us where to buy coffee. He may not like "transplants" from the South End, even though he's a transplant from Quincy, and you may not like transplants with better jobs than you, but you don't own the entire peninsula, only you're own dillapidated tripple decker.

It's funny you think the

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It's funny you think the people who support Starbucks in this location are the ones whining. We're not the ones who lodged bogus complaints about double parking in order to keep a legitimate businessman from getting a reasonable use out of his space.

If you don't like the noise coming from your new neighbors, I'm sure there's a cashout option that puts you on the Riviera by June. Enjoy.

I'm glad you think hurting

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I'm glad you think hurting Michael Norton's business interests and the business interests of every other shop on Broadway that is not a substandard coffee shop is somehow a noble cause, because people who like different coffee than chain dunkin' donuts coffee somehow don't belong in YOUR (exclusively your) neighborhood. Every business on Broadway with the exception of a few newcomers (like the outsiders who opened Paramount) feel like some museum of off brand foods and drinks.

Thank God for government!

Otherwise, what possible mechanism would there be to determine whether or not the neighborhood needs and can support another coffee shop?


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Marty saved us from ourselves again. Long live our fearless leader.


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All the newbies have to get off their lazy, privileged asses and register to vote. No politician is going to take anything you do or say seriously as long as you can't vote. Voting is unlike other things you pay someone else to do for you like taking care of your kids, walking your dogs, shoveling your sidewalk and delivering your groceries.

Thanks for the civics lesson

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How exactly could voting have done anything in this situation? You're positive all those anti-starbucks people were active voters?


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Same ones whining, criticizing and complaining on social media, but God forbid they actually get involved and attend a community meeting to voice their concerns! They say there are more important issues. Really? What are you doing about them?!

This is how zoning boards

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This is how zoning boards work all over this region. They have to decide when to grant residential exceptions or approve certain businesses. It's nothing unusual, and its how many local towns have retained their character.

I've never been to a Starbucks

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but I think this is an asinine decision by the licensing board.

The liquor license should have been approved in the first place. The arbitrary liquor license laws make it next to impossible to get new locally-owned restaurants in the city, unless you want to be forced to locate it where it may not match your business plan.

Why on earth would you turn down a food license for any coffee shop? Is it zoned for a commercial business such as a coffee shop? If so, approve it!

Too many coffee shops? The board should have no say in the matter. That's for the market to decide.

The neighborhood doesn't want it? The people who show up at licensing board meetings are usually there to oppose something. 65 people opposed it? What about the other 30,000 people in the neighborhood who wanted it or don't care one way or another, but had better things to do than attend a licensing board meeting? If it weren't for Adam, how would we know about it until after the fact?

Too many Starbucks? The Seaport and Broadway Station are nowhere near City Point. Definitely not walking distance. Hop on the #9? Hop on the #7? Good luck finding a seat. There are no buses that even go to the Seaport besides the #7, which only runs down Summer Street.

Oh, they want people to get in a car and drive to the nearest Starbucks and double-park there. Ah, I get it.

And Mayor Walsh lobbied against the Starbucks? Further proof that he is completely out of touch. One term, indeed.


"Too many coffee shops? The

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"Too many coffee shops? The board should have no say in the matter. That's for the market to decide."

This is nothing new. Most cities have boards to try to make sure each neighborhood has a reasonably decent mix of businesses.

Why not Andrew?

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Sure its rough around the edges but T and highway access are leaps and bounds above the rest of Southie.

It aint gonna be shitty forever.

Couldn't be happier

The last thing i want to do after sitting in traffic coming up L st from the tunnel (surrounded by suburanites cutting thru mind you) is to dodge even more swinging double parked car doors at the biggest intersection in City Point.

Starbucks would of been great

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Starbucks would of been great there. Dunkin Donuts got approval to open on L Street and there are many locations in Southie. At least Starbucks is a place you can meet a friend for coffee and have a conversation.
Maybe a Peets Coffee or Cafe Nero will be interested in the space.

Actual study done?

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If none of the competitors were able to present a study of what another coffee shop would have done to their business, then why did anything they had to say get noted with any credence?

I run Business A, a dry cleaners. I am the only dry cleaner in 1 mile. Another dry cleaner wants to open on the next block. I go complain about how it's going to "detract from my business". Well, no shit. I'm the only dry cleaners within a mile. Of course it's going to "detract from my business". And maybe they have economies of scale because they send the dry cleaning out to a central facility because they're a regional/national chain with resources. So, they can charge less than me. That might even put me out of business. But these are the risks of doing business! Using the licensing laws as protectionism is nanny state bullshit.

So now, let's say there are Businesses A through G, all dry cleaners. Business H arrives. Now, 7 businesses and their loyal patrons go shout about how Business H would be "one too many dry cleaners" in our neighborhood. It'll pull from all their businesses. The most fragile of which might die because they've been barely holding on among 7 and won't survive being 1 of 8 (even though that's not actually how market is directly shared among competing businesses).

Then you could do the study. You could ask if the A-G neighborhood is at "peak dry cleaners". Is that part of Southie at "peak coffee"? I doubt it. I bet people get Starbucks at the other end of their commute, or leave the neighborhood to sit at a Starbucks or other cafe, or go without, or just go home and brew some coffee with Starbucks beans they bought while they were out, and so on. But if you're company A-G, then why would you say anything other than "they're going to make me go out of business; you have to stop them from opening!" if given the choice?

PS - I don't want to hear one name from that meeting ever come up in the context of "where are my kids going to get a summer job?" or anything else. Because right now, you have a vacant store front. Starbucks was bringing jobs to fill that storefront and you told them to shove off.

Salad Place

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I bet a Sweetgreens or Tossed would excel in this location

Then open one!

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I'm sure a lot of things could do well there, but I don't have any interest in opening a business there. Starbucks did.


Didn't one article say this has been vacant for a few years now???