Wine an untapped market in Boston, Back Bay eatery says

When the Earls Kitchen and Bar chain decided to open an outlet in Boston, they stocked the bar with two sets of taps, one for draught beer, the other for wine.

Today, the beer taps are in regular use, but the wine taps sit empty, not connected to anything, because the Canadian chain learned that the Boston market "prefers wine in bottles," rather than the box wine that would otherwise fill the taps, chain attorney Andrew Upton told the Boston Licensing Board this morning.

Of course, Upton had not dropped by the board to simply chat about Bostonian's preferences in wines. He was there to help the local outlet answer a couple of citations from BPD licensing detectives following a March 30 surprise inspection, one involving the fact that that beer taps had only small labels, visible just to the bar staff, rather than the large labels or handles that the detectives said state law requires so that patrons can know what sort of beer is being poured into their glasses.

Upton and BPD Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey got into a bit of a verbal tussle over just what state law requires.

Sure, Upton, allowed, state law does require the taps to be "legibly labeled," but it doesn't specify to whom, and in the absence of any specific direction otherwise, that doesn't mean it has to be something a patron is required to be allowed to see, he said. Labels for bartenders is good enough, because they need to know which tap to use for which beer, he said.

Mulvey said he checked with the chief investigator at the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, who said the purpose of the law was to ensure educated consumers and so obviously it means the customer-facing taps should be labeled with the sort of beer they are serving up.

Mulvey added this reluctance to label taps seems to be mainly an issue with the city's newer establishments, the ones more likely to put in those chic little chrome handles. "Maybe they think it's a cleaner look with the chrome handles," he said.

Still, to forestall any possible action by the licensing board, Upton then told its members that Earl's has since put customer-facing labels on the active taps, that is, the ones that serve up beer, rather than wine, and that the labels have "bigger, bolder letters than before."

In addition to the taps issue, Earls also had to answer a citation for being overcrowded on March 30.

Mulvey said that during the inspection in which he found the blank taps, he also found 249 people in Earl's second-floor dining room, which has a licensed capacity of 231.

Dylan Todd, the local Earls's general manager, said he is pretty rigorous about checking occupancy levels and that his count that night showed only about 220 people just before the inspection. Still, he said he has added doormen to ensure an even more accurate count.

The board meets Thursday to decide what action, if any, to take about the two citations.

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Comments

Who At The (----) Is Turning the Screws Here?

This isn't the first time that this place has been hauled in to the licensing board, no? I believe there was some issue about a Christmas Party that had the audacity of someone to complain about music or something like that?

The Pru is a nice big place. Lot of people in and out. Lots of noise. Lots of traffic. Lots of people at Eataly despite the stink coming out of the third floor at The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village in which Mario has an interest. (Good food at both places though!). You would expect there would be complaints there too. Maybe complaints about Back Bay Social Club, Towne, Whiskey's, other places, no?

The complaints at Earls seem to be unusual because they are not serving 19 year olds with McLovin ID's. They don't seem to be an open air drug market. They don't seem to have bouncers stabbing customers or vice versa. It just seems to be a moderately upscale chain restaurant.

The complaints here seem to be more nuanced to be just at the level of petty enough harassment by someone who wants them gone. Perhaps someone with an ownership interest in a restaurant in a really nearby building that might be stealing a few customers away from their respectable place. Just a thought. I could be completely wrong, but when you have some of the most expensive condominiums in the city and you are used to getting your way in life, perhaps you just want to make people miserable, or benefit yourself financially by siccing the local constabulary on you.

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Voting is closed. 28

Agree

This one does seem fishy. While I do find the inspectors sometimes cite businesses for things that I think are borderline, I don't count myself as one of those "Don't they have something better to do" people because ultimately that's what the inspectors are tasked with. That said, this violation for a regulation that isn't clearly written seems like it shouldn't pass the hurdle of needing a citation and hearing for. If the Detective wanted to question the legality of the unmarked (to some) tap handles shouldn't he have just noted it, then take it to the ABCC for clarification before taking punitive action? Would love to hear the conclusion to this story.

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Voting is closed. 16

That's actually kind of an

By on

That's actually kind of an interesting violation. Sounds like the regulation wasn't worded precisely enough to avoid this kind of situation.

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Voting is closed. 16

Regulators looking for a reason to exist

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Adam gives an important view to what otherwise would effectively be another private government agency. My interpretation of the view is that this licensing board is as necessary as Maryland's film censorship board. Where a middle age Catholic lady got to watch all the smutty films (including Deep Throat) and then decide whether Marylanders should be able to watch the movie (I swear she was the first Aunt Lydia).

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Voting is closed. 23