Restoration Hardware is betting it can entice you to buy patio sets by helping you enjoy some adult beverages as you lounge around on floor models at its impending store on Berkeley Street in the Back Bay.
The Boston Licensing Board yesterday granted Restoration Hardware permission to buy a beer-and-wine license for the store from the Channel Cafe on Summer Street. The chain hopes to open its extensively renovated store next month.
At a hearing Wednesday, the chain's local attorney, Dennis Quilty, told the board Restoration Hardware will pair beer and wine and "small bites" types of food with outdoor furniture on the store's third floor. Customers "will be able to sit on the furniture that hopefully they will be interested in buying," he said.
Although the store will close at 7 p.m., the board approved a license that will let it keep serving until midnight, for the functions Restoration Hardware hopes to hold from time to time, Quilty said that nationally, the chain is becoming more of a destination than simply a store - some Restoration Hardwares are even adding on hotels.
Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer and member Suzanne Ianella expressed some concern about letting a store have a beer-and-wine license for what isn't really a restaurant when there are so many full-service restaurants that seek one of the city's limited number of licenses.
Ferrer said she was concerned that people who just wanted to sample the crab cakes or whatever it is Restoration Hardware will serve that the store staff might be rude to them once they realized they were just there for the food and not the home furnishings.
"Absolutely not," store manager Ellen Barry assured her. The store will have "dedicated professionals, who will understand how to operate [the license] correctly."
Quilty noted that in its previous incarnation as Louis of Boston, the historic building had a full-service liquor license.
City officials approved the plan. The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay voted to not oppose the proposal (like Mikey, NABB never formally likes anything).