Late-night pizza place with a heart of gold gets in trouble over rowdy, drunken, slobby customers

A Theater District pizza place that stays open after the bars shut down on weekend nights faces possible penalties after fed-up police said they were tired of cleaning up the human, cardboard and cheesy messes left behind by its customers.

The Boston Licensing Board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take against New York Pizza on Tremont Street for a Dec. 1 incident involving up to 200 people on the sidewalk that ended with a particularly obnoxious customer pepper-sprayed and under arrest - and the street covered in pizza boxes, paper plates and slices of pizza.

A police officer and sergeant told the board that after the bars closed that night, they found "a large, unruly intoxicated crowd" clogging up the sidewalk on both sides between Boylston and Stuart, pizza-chomping customers in cars blocking a left-turn lane on Tremont and about 10 or 15 customers locked inside the small take-out place - where a worker would unlock the door, let one out and then let somebody else in.

In the line, anxious would-be eaters grew increasingly restive and police had to break up several scuffles and arguments. One man told by police to leave the scene refused and instead tried to plow his way through the mob, which led to a confrontation in which he wound up pepper sprayed after allegeldy attacking an officer. Police said they had trouble just getting to New York Pizza's front door to try to talk to owner Stephen Axiotis that night and demand he do something about the problem.

Police told the board they had given Axiotis several warning in the past about post-bar-closing issues and that they had made suggestions to him, including hiring a staffer to direct people outside into a single line, rather than letting them mass up in an impenetrable human clot on the sidewalk.

Axiotis's lawyer, Thomas Finnerty, Jr., pleaded for mercy from the board for what he said were issues beyond the control of Axiotis, whom he described as a kind-hearted business owner doing his part to reduce drunk driving in a district rife with bars that all get out at the same exact time. New York Pizza, he declared, was "a haven and a beacon in an area where you can get something to eat, a chance to sober up before you drive somewhere else. ... It's the only place (in the area late at night) to get something to eat without alcohol. He's here to serve the community."

Finnerty said that since the incident, Axiotis has hired an outdoor security person and that he has somebody who lives in the building to clean up trash. Police told the board things have improved considerably since.

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Comments

200 people? Has Boston PD actually been there?

I used to go to NY Pizza all the time, and I'd go with a bunch of buddies from a sports group. To give you an idea of how tiny it is: 10 of us would come in, and we'd make it "crowded."

There are VERY few tables, they're tiny, and the total open floorspace is smaller than some people's living rooms.

Claiming that there were 200 people in the place is patently absurd - and how the hell is a pizza place responsible for people who got drunk elsewhere coming in and making a mess?

And the sidewalk in front of

And the sidewalk in front of the shop is not exactly the Commonwealth Ave promenade. 200 people in front of that place would shut down that block of Tremont. I don't doubt it can be a pain in the ass sometimes, I was just there around that time on Saturday night, and I certainly don't envy the cops having to hang out and stop some of the neanderthals from trying to assert their physical dominance over everyone. How about just issuing some citations every time it happens, if that's happening so often?

So what if they block the left-turn lane?

At that hour there is obviously much more demand for that part of the street from pedestrians than from drivers (who is driving at 3 am anyway?). Let the crowd stay there if they need to. The three or four cars per hour that need to turn left can do so from the center lane.

The only people who live around here are Emerson College students, some of whom are probably patrons of the pizza joint.

Only the litter seems to be an actual problem that needs attention -- to solve that, install some more trash bins.

Because Ron....

When the drunk that drives in that lane and kills someone, who get sued?

The driver?
The police (city) for not enforcing a known trouble spot?
The pizza place for not listening to recommondations on how to organize the sidewalk?

Much, much, much diferrent scene than Church St, Ron

First, Tremont is a major thoroughfare and has volume and speeds that are much higher than on Church St.

I doubt many people that use it on a weekend night are that familiar with it and most would never learn to expect pedestrians near NY pizza.

Honestly, there are drunks in the street all along Tremont from Gov't Center - it's like Night of the Living Dead. And many cars simply don't get down to a safe speed until forced to.

Second, the clientele. these aren't film aficionados politely queued for a night of quiet film appreciation. These are hammered yeah-dudes and their obnoxiously drunk shrieking Snookis.

It's not a pretty sight. you should take Adam up on his offer for a chaperoned trip and see for yourself.

As we UMass alumni call it

it's club sidewalk. The real solution is to allow flexible closing times, promote a different type of night life loc'al, and for god sakes, allow more places to be open to thin out the "herd".

But that might cause noise, noise, noise, and we know that's totally unacceptable.

IMAGE(http://www.animationconnection.com/inc/image.php?file=/images/graphics/1235228547-Noise.jpg&w=200&h=200)

Close, but not quite

Allowing more places to be open to thin out "the herd" is simply distributing a problem over a much wider area. The illusion of solving the problem is achieved, but having less of a problem spread out over a wider area only gets you points in as far as having made a "good start." The real solution to the problem is to lessen the number of people "herding" by eliminating one (or more) of the reasons that "the herd" forms to begin with.

At 2 am, your only options for getting home are driving (potentially while intoxicated or otherwise impaired - driving tired is almost as bad as driving drunk), hiring a taxi (expensive, probably even more so than normal due to the fact that heavily intoxicated individuals at last call are a captive audience), walking/riding a bicycle home (potentially not an option due to road and area conditions, distances and state of inebriation. On the other hand, riding a bicycle is probably a good way to sober up?) ... or ... waiting three hours for mass transit to start running again.

Mind you, the key word in that last choice isn't "hours," it's "wait." It'd be no different whether last call was 1, 3, or even 4 am - when you dump a bunch of people in varying states of sobriety out on the street, it's already going to be a mess, and reducing the total number of options available for going anywhere is only going to further complicate matters. Abstractly, if you can find a place to wait out the time between last call and the T re-opening, it isn't such a bad idea, and that is almost certainly contributing to the number of people crowding around what few establishments are available in the city open between 2 and 5.

So, what we must do is allow the T, in whole or in part, to remain open through the night. Even limited service (bus service only, one train per hour or per 90 minutes, et cetera) would represent worlds of improvement over the current state of affairs.

Not quite either

I also agree with you that the MBTA needs to keep its mains open, at the very least Friday & Saturday (I believe DC’s Metro does this, and it’s much better down there because people can get home). UBER has been a god send to deal with the shitty taxi service in this city, but it’s pricey and not always worth it.

But, allowing later closing times and opening up more late night options does thin out herds, and causes less problems ITLR.

A lot of problems are caused by the 1-2am closing times, because people end up overdrinking trying to get their drinks in before last call. Anyone at a watering hole already knows that, seeing the wicked rush to the bar at last call. Further, especially with younger people, there’s always the playing “catch up” game where they pregame and go out later, then try to “catch up” and beat the ticking clock before last call, fearing they won’t get enough before the clock runs out. That ends up causing overdrinking because it takes a bit for how you feel to catch up with how much you consumed, and it’s like falling off a cliff.

The last part is you always end up with more problems with crowds, period. Crowded bars, crowded sidewalks and booze don’t mix because the lizard brain takes over and people feel they can slink away into that crowd. Further, when SHTF it’s much, much harder to get thing under control. It’s why the police crackdown so hard during the playoff around here, and even as I don’t like them cordoning off whole sections of the city, it works. People are kept from forming anonymous mobs, and they slink back home. The theater district has some of the worst last call problems in the city, and it’s directly related to 2000 overdrunk people, packed into a few establishments, hitting the streets at the same exact time.

Raise hell in Allston, that's different!

My, my, my. If people complain in Allston, they are a bunch of provincial prohibitionists who don't understand that Boston needs late night "activity" to make us a world class city. The New York Pizza episode shows what happens when all bars close at 2AM.

And let's not forget this:

http://www.universalhub.com/crime/20130208-little-...

Next time some proprietor whines everyone else closes at 2AM should be reminded 1AM is what they bought.

Suburbanite logic doesn't work in cities

The reason why some call you a bunch of "provincial prohibitionists" is because you do not understand the difference between a city and a suburban town.

You cannot roll up the sidewalks in a city. You cannot send everyone home to bed. You cannot impose a curfew.

If you scare all the law abiding citizens off the street, then who will be left? That's not a good situation. That's how things go from bad to worse. Safety in a city requires that other people be around. The police can't be everywhere, they depend on the eyes and ears of citizens. Is that a guarantee of safety? No, of course not: nothing is guaranteed. But it's the way civic society works. Where would you rather be at 2 a.m? Walking down busy Brighton Ave or deserted Blue Hill Ave where there are no bars. I know where I'd rather be.

Rolling back closing times to 1 a.m. just causes the same problems, earlier. The better solution is eliminate closing times and attack the real problems head-on. Need more police funding? Raise money from taxing alcohol. Noise a problem? Go after establishments which are noisy and use the power of the licensing board to get them to shape up. Allow more late night food so people don't go crazy for one place. Cut out the tension of the 2 a.m. closing and you cut out the problems.

Reveal yourself, anon. After all these decades, why do you still think the suburbs have the answers to city issues?

And now for something completely different

I think the T should avoid funding large parking lots at stations that are inside town centers.

Two reasons: train stations inside towns are the traditional (19th century) way of developing neighborhoods outside of the city. And you don't have to be in a city to have urbanity. Most old towns were developed as walkable neighborhoods around a train station -- at least until many were gutted for parking lots.

The second reason is more practical: park-n-ride lots cause a lot of traffic in a short span of time, which can easily flood small town streets. It's better to have the park-n-ride lot where the railroad line crosses a highway that can handle the influx.

So in summary: one size does not fit all.

(and to further clarify: I'm opposed to having taxpayer money used by the T to bring harm on communities by plopping down large cookie-cutter parking lots or garages without consideration of the context).

Well, the Greenbush line was

Well, the Greenbush line was built mostly with park-and-rides in the middle of nowhere. The train passes by the former station locations in town centers without stopping.

And ridership is low, especially off-peak, so they cut weekend service. A great use of limited resources building the thing.

Meanwhile, established commuter rail lines managed to squeeze parking into the town centers. Look at the NYC suburbs -- few highwayside park-and-rides, but plenty of healthy suburban downtowns that have train parking but aren't parking lot wastelands, and plenty of ridership even off-peak and reverse-peak.

Well

the smarter thing to do there is promote density. People should want to live close to those stations, and development should create dense villages around it. It make sense both from a taxpayer standpoint, and an economic standpoint.

We really shouldn't be worrying about people who want to use public transit, but don’t want to live near it. They cost everyone a whole hell of a lot more then they offer us, just so they can live in the middle of the woods somewhere.

We really can’t afford to provide public transit options for people who also want to live rural lifestyles, because the costs are high and the system spread too thin. But getting those commuter hubs built up into dense, vibrant communities means that those rural folk might not even need to come into the city core anymore for work, and can get work there instead.

The DC metro area is a prime example of that, with very dense economic centers being allowed to grow along its spokes that in turn generate economic activity further from the city cores. Boston and the surrounding towns need to get better at that, but it means less park and ride and more plans for building long term, dense resident and buissness areas around those transportation hubs.

If we want the most bang for our buck, and the ebst economy possible, we got to think denser and start building.