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Dorchester restaurants in hot water over 'cold tea'

Two Vietnamese restaurants on Dorchester Avenue that don't have liquor licenses face possible sanctions after police found patrons drinking beer out of tea cups last month.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, the City Council could vote on a proposal by Councilors Michelle Wu and Steve Murphy to let small restaurants in neighborhoods such as Dorchester legally let their customers bring in their own beer and wine. BYOB is currently illegal in Boston.

That measure, however, would come too late to help Thao Ngoc Restaurant, 1331 Dorchester Ave. and Tri Seafood Restaurant, 1616 Dorchester Ave.

A BPD detective and a licensing-board member both declared themselves "dumbfounded" that detectives caught patrons at Thao Ngoc drinking beer from stainless-steel teapots on Nov. 14, because that was the third time since August the restaurant has been cited.

Restaurant attorney Paul Gardner of Needham apologized, said the restaurant has put up a sign warning against BYOB and pleaded for leniency because the owner is just 28 and has only owned the restaurant since July 1.

Board member Keeanna Saxon, however, said that there's really not much of a learning curve in understanding that restaurants without alcohol licenses aren't supposed to let customers drink alcohol. That the beer was in teapots was "particularly deceptive," she said. She added she was also disturbed by another police citation for having a rear emergency exit blocked.

Tri Seafood attorney Carolyn Conway apologized profusely for that restaurant's second such violation - the same night. In addition to its owners, she came with the customer who snuck in a bottle of beer in his jacket, poured it into tea cups for himself and his dining companion, then brought the bottle outside to his car. The customer testified he waited until the waitress wasn't looking, then poured the beer into teacups. Their teapot actually contained hot tea.

"He understands he put us in a very bad situation," she said.

Conway said her clients have already begun meeting with neighbors about applying one of the new beer and wine licenses set aside for neighborhoods such as Dorchester.

In both cases, BPD Sgt. Det. William Mulvey said that he and another licensing detective performed inspections at the restaurants because of neighborhood complaints to District C-11 about possible alcohol consumption on their premises.

The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.

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Comments

Its not like its a secret or anything.

Where is Super Duper Fun Preventer Detective Mulvey in all this?

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Well, Apollo and that joint that was on Beach Street closed, so it's few and far between now as far as I know.

But seriously, I get it's against the law to sell beer after 2am, but up yours, Fun Police.

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Korea House, Beach St., by the gate, Michelob and soju, 4 am.

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Moon Villa got away with it by selling O'Douls to people who were often already half in the bag and couldn't tell the difference. I consider that one of the most brilliant business ideas ever.

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fraud

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"The problem with living outside the law is that you no longer have its protection." -Truman Capote

I mean, you're asking them surreptitiously to put something other than tea in your teapot for an extra tip... you can't really call foul when the something other than tea you get isn't the illegal thing you want.

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there are laws, and then there are agreements between people

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Lipton, maybe a few cubes. That really would have been living up to the agreement, such as it is.

I have no idea how the cold tea thing started; it was in place by the time I was old enough to be interested in availing myself of it. However, I never went into a restaurant and said, "Henceforth, you shall break the law and risk your license by selling me beer after 2:00 AM. Our code will be that I will ask for 'cold tea.' Let's shake on it."

Nope, the one time I did it before finding out what was going on, I asked for the cold tea, the waiter brought us a teapot of O'Douls, we paid whatever silly amount for it we did and drank it up cheerfully because we'd been in Foley's all night and couldn't have gotten more buzzed without tipping over: everyone was happy and no laws were broken.

Not that I endorse exploiting people just because they are in the unfortunate position of being young & naive, but I have a hard time seeing how anyone over, let's say, twenty five, could believe that any Boston restaurant could stay in business unmolested for generations while flagrantly violating the booze laws to such a degree that travel guides as far back as the '70s mention the restaurant by name and the "secret code." If I remember to do it later, I'll upload a pic of the page.

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In my extensive experience.
I think they saw you coming, biblio.
My group of friends were at Moon Villa almost every weekend during the mid 80's- early 90's. And plenty of weeknights too.
No one ever mentioned getting fake beer.

And trust me we knew.

Hell, sometimes they cut out the tea pitcher and brought us a 6 pack of bud in a paper bag to keep on the bench.

As for how it went on so long? People were looking the other way. Just like when JJ's closed their doors at 2 but the regulars drank till at least 3 and took a sixer home with them.

And Mayor Flynn was there hammered during this on more the one occasion.

Good times.

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anon, I think I found out about the non-alcoholic beer around 1991. Perhaps it was the result of a bust? From the point of view of the restaurant, giving you a six pack in a bag actually provides them with better cover than a teapot-- after all, they can easily claim you transported it in yourself, which would be pretty difficult to argue sans bottle.

My sources in re the O'Douls are pretty good-- I lived above Moon Villa for about 5 months, between places (c. 1992? 93?) and it was a matter of open discussion with some of the long term tenants. The beer deliveries weren't hidden, with cases of O'Douls piled up. I can't remember if it was even on the regular beer list or only served sub rosa. I also worked at a different restaurant with the daughter of a Moon Villa kitchen worker, and she said the same thing

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to say that those operate outside the law aren't worthy of it's protection is ludicrous. that kid you bought your pot from in college, or currently? so, what, you don't like his prices so you should just be able to beat him until you get a better one, or kill him and take his stuff? prostitutes don't deserve to not get beaten, killed, or raped? or there is an addict maybe. i guess because possession of drugs is illegal, fuck em.

the point really is, that entire mentality is absolutely stupid and while there are many laws that should be followed, there are also many that if you don't follow them shouldn't hinder your protection from the law- nor should they remove any implied social agreements and the concept of being a gentleman or lady. sometimes there are silly laws. sometimes we find really simple ways to circumvent them. that doesn't mean that a person isn't a scum bag for taking advantage of you, nor does it mean you deserve whatever comes your way.

i'm sure anybody that disagrees with me will gladly turn in their license and get a bicycle next time they go over the speed limit, which i might remind you, is illegal.

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Look, I think the liquor laws are stupid, and I spent plenty of time sitting in Foley's and Wedgie's after hours-- and even once at the cop club on Pearl Street. The blue laws are counterproductive and a missed opportunity for city income.

But I'm not going to pretend drinking after last call was an act of civil disobedience. I just wanted to have a drink.

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i would advise you read my post again

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The restaurant has a hell of a lot more to lose by that particular legal violation than you, the drinker, do. And unlike your college pot dealer, the restaurant actually has to have the endorsement of the legal system and the protection of law enforcement.

Who the hell insinuated that selling O'Douls was the ethical equivalent of justifying violence? That's a slippery slope of your own devising.

I'm all about the romantic idea of honor among thieves but it's finding an honorable thief is luck, not something I count on.

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An aside from the cold tea controversy, As reported yesterday here, Boston, a municipality with Big Boy Pants and the economic engine of the state, still has to beg for alcohol licenses from the State while basket case cities such as Revere and Quincy may be able to do what they want per the governor's proposal of yesterday.

That's just great. I can see Quincy soon; "Are you a Koch or Phelan guy?" "Why do you need to know that?" "Do you want a license to sell booze? That's Why".

Dot Ave isn't paradise and neither is Blue Hill Avenue, but they do have a lot of people, some of whom may like to get a drink from time to time. A lot of licenses have migrated north to the Seaport from these places at the expense of the locals in favor of the Liberty Wharf crowd.

As we have seen with Uber, the market finally stepped in and drained a lot of money from Ed Tutunjian's and Carol Sawyer Brown's nest eggs, you know, their regulated taxi medallion hoarding.

It is time to do the same with alcohol in the city. Maybe then Boston can be like those places such as Wellfleet, Truro, or Rockport where we can be all treated like grown ups and make adult choices.

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I'm still mildly surprised you can't at least pick up beer and wine at the grocery store.

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You can at some of them, just not all of them. And some supermarkets have a "store within a store" for selling alcohol.

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Roach Brothers downtown is in the process of building out a new liquor store in the basement of the new Millenium Tower. Not sure if they have started selling already, but I think that was the plan.

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*

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Dude your number is way off for off-premise liquor licenses. It had been 3 for a million years for a bit , now it is gradually increasing , see attached old news article.

http://m.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120701/NEWS/107019972

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n/t

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The aforementioned Walgreens on School Street below, but it's still a separate transaction and seems very odd that this is the case in 2015 in a non-Bible Belt state.

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Beer and wine aren't banned from grocery stores. However, since a single owner can own no more than 5 (was 3, will be 7 next year, 9 in 2020), only some locations offer alcohol sales.

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Some grocery stores do have permits to sell beer and wine and even (GASP) hard stuff. But the permit process is just as cumbersome as for restaurants..To site one example the Trader Joe's in Brookline has beer and wine, the TJ's in Back Bay does not, even though the Shaws in the Prudential area has just about any alcohol. A statewide ballot initiative a few years ago to loosen the regs for grocery stores was defeated, partly due to a successful fear campaign sugfesting teens would have ready access if the measure passed.

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I prefer it this way. If you're lucky enough to have one, the local wine/beer shop sells stuff you can't buy at supermarkets. If all supermarkets sold wine/beer then they'd likely put the independent shops out of business and there would go the unique selection, the availability product from smaller brewers, recommendations from knowledgeable employees, etc. Of course most people prefer to buy the usual stuff in bulk at Wegman's, Sam's, Walmart, etc., hence the immense popularity of big box stores, but there are still a few of us holdouts who appreciate something different even if we have to pay a few bucks more.

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I have lived on the west coast, in the south, in the midwest, and in MA. In no place did I struggle to find good craft beer or good wine, despite the gloom-and-doom predictions of the poster. I usually drink fancier beer than I drink wine - the beer is $10-20/six pack/$5-10/bomber stuff and the wine is $10-20/750mL stuff.

In MA I almost always overpay for low- to midrange wine ($8-10 bottles somehow become $15 bottles) and decent craft (I have paid $11 for a sixer of Harpoon) at independent stores. I've found they often gouge on spirits (where we go low- to mid-end but not rotgut, Gordons, Smirnoff, etc). The price differential between a 6 pack and a 24 pack in beer, or a fifth vs handle in spirits, is usually shocking - they realize most people don't have the space to store weeks to months worth of alcohol and gouge accordingly. More cynically, one would note that liquor stores make most of their money from really heavy drinkers, and realize without much competition, they can safely gouge.

The "big box stores" you malign often have a great selection and price - Everett costco does well balancing this, despite a packie-sized liquor store-in-a-store, and the nearby Kappy's is worlds better than most neighborhood stores.

The MA liquor laws are just a gift to the packie lobby. I have lived in places where you can buy great big bottles of vodka at Walgreens. The homeless situation wasn't much different. If you're paying attention, the opioid crisis is causing more problems here than alcohol lately. Have you ever noticed the beggars at traffic lights don't smell of booze but still look strung out these days?

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As someone who grew up in the Midwest, where you can buy alcohol at the GAS STATION, Mass liquor laws are a continual mystery.

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Um... there are plenty of gas stations that sell beer and wine in Mass.

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Akiki Oil
Now with Beer and Wine

as their Facebook ads so eloquently put it (oh, yeah, that would be Hyde Park Avenue in Hyde Park).

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Perhaps this might help you understand Mass a bit....l

Package stores prepare for more competition with supermarkets

An expansion in the number of liquor licenses available to supermarkets is generating new competition for package stores in Massachusetts.

Beginning this year, the maximum number of alcohol licenses that can be held by any retailer in the state rises from three to five. The cap goes up to seven in 2016 and nine in 2020.

The changes, passed by the state Legislature last year, were part of a compromise between the state’s package store association and the supermarket industry.

“It was a battle that I don’t think we could have won, but we don’t know because it never got that far,” said Sharon Sorcenelli, owner of Cedarville Wine & Spirits in Plymouth.

The compromise averted a rematch of the costly 2006 statewide ballot question in which voters rejected wine sales in supermarkets by a 54-to-46-percent margin. Package stores and some law enforcement figures said the expansion would have led to more drunken driving and underage drinking.

The $11.5 million spent by both sides during the campaign was an all-time high for a state ballot question.

Now, package store owners are starting to feel the effects of the compromise.

Marshfield selectmen this week rejected an application from West Bridgewater-based Shaw’s Supermarkets for a beer-and-wine license at its Marshfield store, its first on the South Shore. Currently the chain sells beer and wine at stores in Franklin, Cambridge and Boston’s Prudential Center.

“We are always looking for options on how to improve our operations to meet the needs of our consumers, and these additional licenses are another way we can look to best serve our customers,” Shaw’s spokesman Steve Sylven said.

Marshfield selectmen voted to reject the license after local package store owners objected to the new competition.

Mike Berger, senior editor at the Duxbury-based Griffin Report of Food Marketing, said chains will be looking at “high-volume, high-demographic locations” when applying for licenses.

“I do expect them all to apply for the maximum they can apply for,” Berger said.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market sells beer and wine in its stores at Legacy Place in Dedham, River Street in Cambridge and Hadley.
http://m.patriotledger.com/article/20120213/NEWS/302139802

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"Dot Ave isn't paradise and neither is Blue Hill Avenue, but they do have a lot of people, some of whom may like to get a drink from time to time"

Lucky for them, there is a liquor store on every block of each of those prestigious Avenues...

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Not really. No more than in the Back Bay.

Brix or Lonney Liquors, it is still just booze, just in different packaging.

Between St. Margaret's and Lower Mills I count 6. That is 6 packies just under 3.5 miles. If you throw in Ashmont Market, the two on Morrissey (Next to Shaw's and the one on the corner of Victory). You also have two in Adams Corner, that is not a lot in an area of the city with close to 100,000 people.

There are 4 places to get take out beer, wine and more on Charles Street just between Beacon Street and Charles MGH. 3 more on Cambridge between Charles MGH and the Old West End Church.

That's 7 places for a combined Beacon Hill / West End population of 20,000. Maybe you care to revise your statement? It seems the lushes are in town.

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shows 8 on Blue Hill Ave alone, not counting the ones that don't pay for google search optimization, cuz there are a few I have seen not on that list. Not sure about Dot Ave, but I live near Lower Mills between there and Blue Hill Ave and I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a packie.
6 for 3.5 miles is roughly one every half mile, and there are certainly more than that, maybe just not on that street itself. Basically you cannot meander very far thru Dot or Murderpan without hitting a liquor store, which personally I don't mind. There is certainly no lack of availability for booze when people "occasionally would like an alcohholic beverage" which was my main point to your original comment. The eateries in those areas are mostly trash anyways, can't remember a time where I thought "gee, i'd really love a beer with this fast food garbage, too bad there aren't more licences available here" LOLz

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>"Tomorrow, meanwhile, the City Council could vote on a proposal by Councilors Michelle Wu and Steve Murphy..."

What design for an easy to read/understandable TABLE/CHART of Roll Call Votes would be best?... for Boston City Council, for Cambridge City Council.

Data at
http://www.cityofboston.gov/cityclerk/rollcall/
https://www.google.com/search?q=roll+call+vote+2015+site%3Acambridgema.gov

See also
http://councilmatic.org
http://www.participatorypolitics.org/
http://datamade.us/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10668173

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Who is it who's asking for roll-call votes?

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has ever asked for anything he has posted, ever. the only time he posts something relevant to the discussion is if somebody mentions the minutes of a meeting, by coincidence

that being said, he's just part of the neighborhood at this point.

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Freddie and I used to love going to Chinatown for a couple of scorpion bowls, especially after a long day of listening to Scondras, or some of the other goo-goos. Sometime we wouldn't get there until 3:00 am. What's the big deal? Quite often Princess Cheyenne or Chesty Morgan would drop by to join us in song.

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Princess Cheyenne? Now you are cooking with gas.....

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That odd concoction of alcohol, juice and spit from multiple mouths.

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Dapper had a companion late in his life named Muhammed. He drove him around and took dinner with him in various restaurants.

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I'm glad to see our tax money being used to keep us safe from such things as people drinking alcohol while they are out eating.

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Are you doing something about it? Nothing changes if all people do is complain on message boards.

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