It's time to cast off the decades-old "Prohibition frenzy" and anti-Irish bigotry that's turning Boston into the staid preserve of large national and regional restaurant chains clustered in just one small part of the city, City Councilor Ayanna Pressley says.
The City Council tomorrow considers a request from the at-large councilor for a hearing on ways to convince the legislature to increase the number of liquor licenses that can be doled out in Boston.
In her formal hearing request, Pressley says it's time for Boston to stop paying for 1930s-era "Prohibition frenzy about alcohol and a power struggle between Yankee legislators and Irish-dominated local governments."
Pressley says the current high price of liquor licenses on the open market makes it next to impossible for budding dining entrepreneurs to "bring innovation to the cultural, arts, and culinary arenas."
She adds: "In certain communities in Boston, particularly in communities of color, the high cost of liquor licenses also makes it more difficult to develop the range of neighborhood entertainment and dining offerings necessary to attract and retain young professionals and families."
All of Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury and Mattapan will soon be without a single bar as owners close up and sell their licenses to pricey waterfront and Back Bay establishments - with owners making up to $300,000 for their licenses. Once the Boston Licensing Board grants most of its licenses, holders are free to sell them - subject to board approval. A few licenses do have restrictions forbidding their resale.
Unfortunately for Pressley, the last person to make a similar case was state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who is now serving a 3 1/2-year federal sentence for extortion for offering to sell one of the licenses she convinced the legislature to give Boston.