City Councilors Ayanna Pressley (at large) and Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown) both say they love the idea of increasing the number of restaurants that can serve alcohol in Boston, but both are saying they have major concerns about a proposal by Councilors Michelle Wu and Steve Murphy to let smaller eateries offer BYOB service.
Pressley came at the proposal from lower end of the economic spectrum, saying she's concerned the measure could create BYOB-only districts in places such as Mattapan, Roxbury and Hyde Park, when the real answer is to increase the number of full liquor licenses available in those neighborhoods. Pressley was the main backer of a successful effort to increase the number of liquor licenses in certain Boston neighborhoods - although she really wanted to end the cap on licenses altogether.
At a council meeting yesterday, Pressley said she's also concerned about the potential impact on waitstaff: Since customers would bring their own bottles, servers might not see much in the way of the sort of tips that servers at restaurants with liquor licenses would see.
Linehan echoed Pressley's concern, but also approached the issue from the rentier perspective. He said he's worried about the impact on restaurants in his district - and in places such as Allston/Brighton - that have "enormous" six-figure investments in liquor licenses with prices artificially pushed skyward by state limits on their numbers. He said he's worried those investments could evaporate if competitors could let just any customer walk in with a bottle. Under state law, only restaurants without a liquor license can offer BYOB in communities that allow it.
The council agreed to hold a hearing on the Wu/Murphy proposal before deciding what to do about it.
Ed. note: I originally wrote Pressley was worried about creating "BYOB ghettos." That wasn't a direct quote from her and it made it sound like she was saying BYOB permits would drag neighborhoods down, which is not what she said. I've changed the wording in that section of the post.