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Board rejects deli's request to stock old-country vodka for the elderly Russian Jews of Brighton

The Boston Licensing Board today rejected a request from Babushka Deli on Washington Street, just up from the Brookline line, to expand its stock of beer and wine to include harder stuff.

At a hearing Wednesday, several nearby residents and the rabbi of a congregation that serves the area's Russian Jews, said that while they were fortunate enough to be able to drive all the way over to Cambridge Street to buy the vodka and other spirits that are central to Russian life, many of the elderly residents of the area had no way to get there.

However, the board listened to Mayor Walsh, Boston Police District D-14 and the Brighton-Allston Improvement Association that Brighton already has enough liquor stores.

Babushka's lawyer, Carolyn Conway, argued there was a public need for another couple of shelves for vodka and spirits because it would serve a niche market. She said the students who also live in the area rarely go into the deli now and that the deli has never been cited for selling beer or wine to people under 21.

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If we're being really generous about what we're calling "Brighton", I count 12 places that sell liquor in all of Brighton. Not one of them is south of Cambridge St*.

Edit - Except for one of them.

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Isn't there a liquor store there?

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Can we just donate everything from Eagle's Deli to the reservoir to Brookline so people can stop calling it Brighton?

Yes, there's a liquor store there that I didn't count because if you trip walking out the door you're in Brookline. I'd rather they claimed Gimbel's was too close before they used Reservoir Liquors against Babushka.

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Around Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline where might a samovar be obtained?...
https://www.google.com/search?q=samovar&tbm=isch

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That section is definitely Brighton. and its a good thing this place didn't get the license. its always a disaster zone over there with old people just walking into the street. adding vodka to the equation will only make it worse.

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No, they're not going to be drinking out of paper bags right on Washington.

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Given the large number of elderly living NEXT DOOR to the building that Babushka is in, it would seem to be better to give them the opportunity to buy their vodka there rather than having to cross any streets...

(If we were giving the original accusation any credence, of course.)

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They might wander into Brookline and start ageism riots!!!

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did I really just read this

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Even Blanchards is "south" of Cambridge St. as I know it anyway.

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As much as I wanted Babushka to get this license, there are many liquor stores right nearby. Melvin pharmacy isn't even a stone's throw away and they sell hard liquor. I spoke with Babushka's owner when they held the abutter meeting and he said they weren't going to sell much booze if they were approved. I'd bet the selection would be equal to Melvin.

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Wish that argument could work when reviewing a Dunkin Donut's application.

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pump them full of pricey, heavily subsidized pharmaceuticals, but deny them vodka. Ridiculous.

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Which shop has the best Russian specialties?...

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Delayed here, but My Russian friends have always told me Bazar has the best stuff.

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I think you forgot Chansky;s, Hurleys, Brookline and Resevoir Liq and i'm sure I could find more if I looked.

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No booze at Chansky's just beer and wine. I considered Hurley's part of the Cambridge Street parallel. Yes, it's technically like 2 blocks south of Cambridge Street and I was being loose with my "south of Cambridge St" comment, but it's at the same latitude as all the ones on Cambridge/Washington. Brookline Liquors in Allston. Reservoir was covered by Adam.

Basically you described a giant 1 mile circle around Babushka that even goes into the next towns over...and everywhere inside of it, no booze.

Oh, and Brighton is only 2.8 sq. miles anyways.

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less than a mile away in Washington Square? Or is it not there anymore?

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Doesn't the Pharmacy up the street sell alcohol?

Not that I am against this in any way. Just being an internet commenter.

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Wait a minute.

Many South End residents were against a new liquor store because there were already plenty of stores in the neighborhood. Those with this opinion were called pearl clutchers and those rich entitled folks who are trying to suppress anything new, and that the number of stores already in place should never be a litmus test for a new store opening.

So here we have another liquor sales/store proposal, and what are all the comments here in UHUB? "There are enough stores already and we don't need another. "

So why was store saturation a good argument for one neighborhood and a poor argument for another neighborhood?

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So why was store saturation a good argument for one neighborhood and a poor argument for another neighborhood?

Intelligentsia Elitism ! An app based model for able bodied and seeming to have enough time on their hands to expound on drinking a glass of wine trumps the need and convenience for elderly to purchase basically a culture embedded spirit . This store has a long established niche of market need, rather than the here today gone tomorrow cyber world created and then abandoned because something more hep and shiny came along because RAM got cheaper new and improved product. This little store isnt going to become an discount emporium, probably just carry a limited but unique assortment of spirits and whatevers , that the people can carry home while picking up other staples, while keeping the weight carriable but yet within their range of mobility. This sux...........

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So why was store saturation a good argument for one neighborhood and a poor argument for another neighborhood?

Because they're two different neighborhoods, and one may be legitimately said to be saturated while the other is not? Or because they're two different neighborhoods, with different sets of residents and people who know the neighborhood, hence two different sets of people commenting?

I don't pay any attention to the booze saturation of either neighborhood, didn't comment in either thread pro or con, and didn't pay attention to who did comment. Perhaps you did, and your comment here was inspired by quantitative analysis that found the same individuals reacted differently to identical situations in two different neighborhoods. But I'm guessing it wasn't that cut and dried, and so I'd say it's down to different people having different reactions to different things rather than some kind of sinister liberal elitist intelligentsia plot.

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I actually agree that both applications should have been approved.

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I'm sure those older Russian neighbors who spent their childhood in the Soviet Union will recognize the concept of a central bureaucracy deciding what sorts of businesses their neighborhood does or does not need. I'm sure they'll be somewhat dismayed to see the concept in play here.

I'm hardly an extreme libertarian -- I believe in government regulation in theory and in practice -- but every time I hear of the licensing board arrogating to itself the authority to determine "what the market needs" I am appalled.

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"However, the board listened to Mayor Walsh, Boston Police District D-14 and the Brighton-Allston Improvement Association that Brighton already has enough liquor stores."

How long is Brighton going to allow itself to be run by the old grumpies at the BAIA that has this vision of keeping everything in Brighton like it's pre-WWII?

D-14 and the BAIA object to anything that involves alcohol because they are petrified of "students".

The BAIA meets the first Thursday at 7pm at the Elks in Brighton Center. We need some people under the age of 60 there to help them understand what large parts of the community want. 65% of Brighton is 18-44 years old but the voting board at the BAIA is dominated by people over 50.

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Do they let anyone in? I thought they had strict rules about membership, like having lived there for 5 years or some nonsense.

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Anyone can go and have their voice heard on an issue. Voting is up to people on the board.

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Wasn't there a workaround during Prohibition where churches distributed sacramental wine by the case? That could work.

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