Oh, don't worry, it's not that Councilor Frank Baker doesn't love Wahlburgers as much as everybody else - how could he not? - it's just that given how scarce liquor licenses are in this town, he doesn't think it's fair that the Boston Licensing Board give them a license for a South Bay Mall add-on where construction has barely started.
An aide to Baker raised the objection at a Boston Licensing Board hearing today after chain attorney Stephen Miller told the board it would be at least a year from now before the newest Wahlburgers could open - giving them a license when so many other people could put one to use earlier wouldn't be fair, she said.
The burger chain, bankrolled by Donny, Marky Mark and the other Wahlbergs, is requesting one of the 20 neighborhood-specific all-alcohol licenses the board got the right to issue on Sept. 1, for their proposed burger joint with 255 seats - 102 of them in an outdoor patio. The board will not take any action for at least a couple of weeks, so that it can hear from other applicants for the licenses.
The intent of the legislation that gave Boston more liquor licenses was to help restaurant entrepreneurs get a start in a city where regular liquor licenses routinely go for $300,000 and up, not for chains, but the law only specifies neighborhoods, not start-up status, so the Wahburgers proposed for the South Bay extension would qualify, since that's technically Dorchester, one of three neighborhoods specifically named by the legislature (the law also allows licenses in the city's Main Street districts, which include places such as Roslindale Square and Cleary Square in Hyde Park).
Unlike regular licenses, which the board has five of to award, the neighborhood-specific ones cannot be resold - if the owner goes out of business or retires, he or she has to give it back to the board.
As Paul Wahlberg listened, Miller said the family "Is just looking forward to coming home, to move into Dorchester."
Miller added the chain would have no objections to a request from the mayor's office to set a midnight closing time, rather than the 2 a.m. it had requested.