Restaurants rush to apply for five new liquor licenses that could be worth $300,000 or more

On Wednesday, the Boston Licensing Board hears the first 14 requests it has for the five "unrestricted" liquor licenses that became available Sept. 1 and which holders can borrow against and then resell.

The unrestricted licenses carry a fee of a few thousand dollars apiece; the exact amount depends on the number of seats.

The board also hears three requests for one of the 20 new "restricted" licenses, which can only be used in certain neighborhoods and which have to be given back to the board when their holders shut down or move.

The 25 total licenses are the last of the batch of 75 the state legislature deigned to award Boston in response to an effort by City Councilor Ayanna Pressley to boost restaurants in Dorchester, Roxbuty and Mattapan.

The legislature also added restaurants in the city's "Main Street" districts, such as Roslindale Square, where Dorchester restaurateur Chris Douglass is seeking one of the restricted licenses for the Third Rail restaurant he hopes to open in the former trolley substation there. The Wahlberg clan is seeking another one of the restricted licenses, for its planned South Bay Wahlburgers. The third request is for a proposed Loui Loui at 160 Brighton Ave. in Allston.

As happened earlier this year when unrestricted licenses became available, numerous North End restaurant owners have put in bids, most in an attempt to upgrade their existing beer and wine licenses to full liquor - in an effort, they say, to compete with the well-heeled full-service restaurants along the waterfront. Among the restaurants looking to kick it up a notch: Carmelina's, Crudo, Antico Forno and Terramia Ristorante on Salem Street and Strega on Hanover Street.

Other applicants for the new unrestricted licenses include the Hampshire House, which wants to add a second 75 restaurant to the waterfront, at 60 Seaport Blvd.; Kamakura, a proposed Japanese restaurant at 150 State St.; Beauport Hospitality, which wants a restaurant at 94 Guest St. in Brighton, as part of the New Balance mega-development; Anoushella, a proposed Mediterranean restaurant at 35 W. Newton St. in the South End; Mida, a proposed Italian restaurant at 782 Tremont St. on the Roxbury/South End line; Renegades Pub, a new pub at 1004 Bennington St. in East Boston; the Retreat, 303 Sumner St., East Boston; and Sweet Rice, an existing Thai restaurant at 187 Main St. in Charlestown. The owners of the new tower at 6 New St. on the East Boston waterfront are also seeking a license for a still unnamed restaurant there.

The board's hearings begin at 10 a.m. in its eighth-floor hearing room in City Hall.

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Comments

They should all be restricted

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All of the new licenses should be restricted so that if the restaurant that wins them later decides they no longer need them, they have to go back to the city and be reissued. No business owner should be able to win a magical lottery where they get something worth $300,000 from the city for 1% of that amount and then they are legally allowed to turn right around and sell it off for a profit.

Older licenses issued under the old system, especially those that have recently been transferred in the private market, should be handled differently until we can figure out an equitable way for business owners that paid large sums for their private sales to recoup some of their investment. But there's no excuse for allowing the system to be perpetuated with new licenses.

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And just why do we need to figure out an "equitable way"

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for business owners to recoup what they paid for what is effectively government property. If I pay a large price for shares of a company's stock, and they then go belly up and that stock suddenly becomes totally worthless, that company is hardly responsible for losses I incurred because I CHOSE to make that investment in their stock.

Nobody forced these businesses to pay $300K per for these licenses, so nobody - let alone the government - should be required to reimburse them for their losses because they made poor investment decisions. It's called RISK, which the business owners should have recognized before they made the decision to purchase a public asset at a grossly inflated price.

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HAHA

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This is what happens when we keep electing townie, life long politicians.

We need outside blood to run Boston.

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I'm all for life-long townie politicians

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So long as they represent ALL of their constituents, honestly and fairly and intelligently, and within the bounds of law and ethics.

Your outsiders are often just looking to service DIFFERENT select constituents or non-constituents.

The administrators who are both super-principled and super-capable exist, but they are unusual.

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