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Never mind whether hot dogs are sandwiches; are they 'substantial' enough to satisfy restaurant inspectors in a pandemic?

The Boston Licensing Board told beer-garden operators it's still trying to figure out new state regulations on food and liquor service in a time of pandemic - and warned Allston/Brighton liquor-license holders they better be on their best behavior, because the city's already getting too many complaints about them, even before college students deluge the neighborhood.

The board discussed the new Covid-19 regulations in the first two of its planned five hearings with license holders. Tomorrow, it Zooms in with owners of restaurants in the Seaport specifically, South Boston more generally and with operators of veterans' and social clubs with liquor licenses.

Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce praised beer-garden operators, saying that while the board has gotten complaints from the public about them, in particular about maskless would-be patrons clustered together in lines outside, her inspectors have reported no problems. But she cautioned them they have to bust up any lines of people waiting to get in, ensure patrons don't cluster once they're in and require that they don masks whenever they step away from their table.

Also, the beer gardens have to serve food with their alcohol, "substantial" food, to be exact, that is prepared on site - no more pretending bags of potato chips or prepared sandwiches from elsewhere are "food" that the state says was letting bars pretend to be restaurants, when bars are not even supposed to be open.

But then the question becomes: What, exactly is "substantial" food? John Lincecum, co-owner of the Turtle Swamp brewery in Jamaica Plain and beer hall in Roslindale, asked if hot dogs or panini sandwiches grilled on site would qualify as "substantial."

Joyce acknowledged she doesn't know; that the state had not given the licensing board in its largest city any more specifics than it had tossed out to the public. "We're trying to figure it out just as much as you are," she said. "We're not prepared to answer that today," agreed Daniel Manning, assistant commissioner of ISD's health division.

"I know you're doing your best," Joyce said, adding the last thing the city wants to do is shut anybody down, but that public health, even if not yet fully codified, is now the board's top priority.

Later in the day, Joyce said something similar to owners of Allston/Brighton restaurants with liquor licenses. But the board was far less pleased overall with what it's been seeing in that neighborhood.

"The number of complaints from this neighborhood has been unacceptable," she said.

She said too many Allston/Brighton license holders have been crowding too many people into patios, letting patrons sit at the bar, offering live entertainment outdoors and basically turning themselves into nightclubs at night, at a time when those are specifically banned.

She did not name names, but BPD Robert Harrington did - the Garage on Linden Street, whose manager attended the session and which Harrington warned he has his eye on. Mark Dioguiardi of the Garage told other license holders to learn from his mistakes.

Joyce added that up until now, BPD licensing officers have not been issuing citations for crowding and other Covid-19 concerns, because they have been trying to educate restaurant owners, but that future violations could mean citations leading to disciplinary hearings before the board. The officers also have the right to immediately shut any temporary patios allowed under the city's emergency outdoor-dining regulations.

Joyce and Det. Eddie Hernandez of the BPD licensing unit said that with students on the way back, even if in reduced numbers this fall, bars and restaurants need to be especially careful with enforcing the state's ban outside establishments.

But as with hot dogs, the board again had problems with defining just what the state wants: Although the state has issued a ban on "lines," one restaurant owner asked if it would be acceptable if he had staffers outside to ensure everybody waiting to get in had a mask on and was six feet away from people in front of and behind them. Joyce said that seemed to her like it might be OK, but that she could not give her blessing because the state regulations were not specific enough.

Douglas Bacon, who owns several restaurants in the area, pleaded for leniency in regulation enforcement. First, he said, "we can't really legally control people outside," although the board begged to differ. But board Executive Secretary Lesley Delaney Hawkins noted that "at the end of the day, it's your liquor license that's on the line."

But Bacon added that if all the restaurants were shut for Covid-19 reasons, well, you know how students are - they would just move to unsupervised apartment and even block parties outside their apartments, and it really makes sense to let operators like him provide a more supervised environment in which to provide a safe dining environment; otherwise, "the problem may get worse."

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If you need a food serving license, and can get hauled in front of the licensing board for selling them too late, obviously they're substantial.

Also, hot dogs aren't a sandwich. They're a sub. Don't @me.

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A few years ago, a number of bars were hauled before the licensing board for failing to use their food-serving (or "common victualer's") license.

I admit I never really understood that, because, unlike liquor licenses, the city has an unlimited number of food-serving licenses, and what difference does it make if a place pays for a license, but then doesn't actually use it, but in any case, once before the board, they had two options: They could apply for a liquor-only license or they could add a hot-dog grill (or even a popcorn machine) and everybody would be happy.

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but that is one of the most City of Boston things I've ever heard.

I also feel like that could easily be used as a precedent, should someone decide to get a bunch of lawyers in a room Zoom over the issue.

I'm 100% for establishments being able to open to some capacity as long as they're following stringent safety guidelines. But this seems like such a trivial thing when you think about the other oversight and requirements that should be in play here.

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I'm impressed.

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It's almost like it's all true

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I mean... if you allow a hot dog machine, why not just vending machines...

Hot dog machines as 'food' are really pushing it. And if that being the case... vending companys could be making a killing.

:-)

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Why a microwave isn't good enough I don't know.

Here's your hot nuts.

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So hot dogs it is

or Taquitos

or pizza rolls

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I went to the Brighams in Cleary Square. It was a small location. I ordered a hamburger. They microwaved it, within my view.

I guess microwaving counts?

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A local bar in Roslindale, which I’m sure you’ve never been in used to keep a pot of hot dogs going behind the bar.

$2.50 for a bud bottle though.

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...and other tasty tidbits on display.

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Can't remember the last time I saw a jar of pork hocks sitting on a bar. Most likely when I delivered beer in the late 70s and was in bars I don't visit anymore.

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pigfoot and a bottle of beer

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What's that? Does it have a full name?

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You prefer hoagie?

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Sub is an abbreviation of submarine sandwich. A sub, or hoagie, is a subcategory of sandwich.

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Spunkiest.

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Itza spukie. Whaddya, a comfromer?

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In the 70s and 80s there used to be a restaurant in the basement at the corner of A St and Congress called Stuart's. It's known as Lucky's Lounge these days.

They not only served spuckies, but they also served spuckies "the old way". I never could figure out the difference. Perhaps it was whether Freddie the cook dropped his cigarette ashes in your spuckie or not. Freddie was one of those guys that had a cigarette in his mouth 24/7.

According to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spuccadella

The spuccadella is an Italian-American bread roll that has a long, pointed shape.[1][2] It is used in the preparation of the spuckie sandwich, which is what the Italian sandwich is referred to in East Boston, Massachusetts.[1][2][3] The spuckie is still available in some sandwich shops in the Boston area.[4] The Italian American word "spuccadella" does not exist in the written Italian of Italy, but it may be derived from the common Italian word "spaccatella," a kind of "panino" or bread roll, with rounded ends, that could be used for sandwich making.[5]

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Also, hot dogs aren't a sandwich. They're a sub. Don't @me.

If a hot dog is on this bun, it's a sandwich

But if its on this roll, you're weird (and its a sub)

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(when toasted) is indeed far superior, I fail to see the differentiator here.

Unless you're arguing that, due to their tendency to be cut very poorly, they often fall apart and become two pieces of bread...thus qualifying a hot dog placed in between to be classified as a sandwich.

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Its not the meat that makes the sandwich, its the bread/roll its served on.

I can take roast beef and cheese and put it between two slices of pumpernickel bread and its a sandwich.

But if i take roast beef and cheese and put it on long roll, such as a sub roll, it's a sub.

But then again Sub is short for submarine sandwich. So is a sub really something different than a sandwich?

And I won't even talk about if a hamburger is a sandwich or not since its served on a bun.

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Those were DEF substantial, sandwich or not. I'd pay big money for one RIGHT NOW!

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http://www.troquetboston.com/

You can even have it delivered. I haven't tried one yet to compare but the owner bought the recipe and rights from Speed's family, from what I've read.

https://thebostonspeeddog.com/

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Walsh wafers or Marty munchies.

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A place I won't mention by name has been advertising their cocktails and mentioning, almost as an aside, that they are also serving "light bites". I wonder how light those bites are and whether they will pass the "is it more than a hot dog" assessment.

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When happy hours got banned in Massachusetts, bars were allowed to substitute inexpensive deals on food to go along with their full-priced drinks. It had the same effect on your wallet, but it satisfied those who objected to using alcohol as a loss-leader.

If it's "food" for that purpose, it should be food for pandemic seating. But the public health problem is people who hang out too long in the bars, talking loudly and spreading their COVID-19 germs around the room. Solve that by making them actually eat a hot dog with every beer.

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I still can’t parse out the point of the food rule. To prevent drunken bad behavior? I can still get trashed after eating an app or entree, then slamming drinks. To discourage people from going out to drink? If I’m willing to pay Boston drink prices, what’s a $5 app thrown in the mix? Is it meant to stimulate the economy? Does throwing in a few dollars on top of food really help more than all the drinks I’d be paying for anyway? I just don’t get it.

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and bar = mingling.

if you must serve substantial food, the idea is that people are there to sit in one place, eat, and leave. they shouldnt be there to get their drank on and meet people

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At what point is the Licensing Board just enforcing this rule for the sake of enforcement?

If the point is to prevent people from getting too drunk, then simply offering food doesn't necessarily do that. You would pretty much need to require every patron to eat something, if you wanted to ensure that the food prevents drunkenness. And, like you wrote, even for people that do order something, you can still get drunk.

But even if we say that the option of having food will lead to overall less drunken behavior, then what does it matter if the food is prepared offsite or onsite? Anyone who has ever had a business lunch meeting or conference (or been to a picnic for that matter) will tell you that you can have a pretty filling meal that's been prepared offsite. For a summer beer garden, ready made sandwiches, or getting food delivered, would actually be a pretty good fit.

If the point is to promote health, then (as Kinopio points out) forcing bars to serve some junk food or high-fat meats for the sake of it isn't serving that purpose either. Especially now, we're seeing studies on how poor diet can worsen Covid symptoms.

Also, if the goal is specifically to prevent less late-night binge-drinking behavior, then maybe the City should allow a few more places that, you know, serve food late at night, instead of cracking down on people that serve a pizza at 7 minutes past midnight.

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in the past, going back forever, towns didn't want bars but they wanted restaurants that also served booze, so they came up with some kind of food requirement.

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college students will find a way to blow off steam with their peers in a gathering that they will come up with. Not all come from families wealthy enough to pay for their own sprawling luxury rental for their offspring to get The Coveted Education at Harvard or MIT.

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"I can't imagine people wouldn't want to get out on the streets and protest." -- Gov. Charlie Baker, May 29, 2020 two days before extensive rioting and looting destroyed much of downtown Boston

Beyond the definition, are we to believe substantial food wards off the virus? How about no sitting at the bar but tables may be pushed up against the bar and now the person sitting in the exact same stool, in the exact same spot is technically OK because she's now seated at a table? The state ABCC cracking down on beer in golf carts but soft drinks are OK? "Die-ins" complete with cardboard tombstones protesting reopening of elementary schools when not one person under 20 has died of the disease in MA and the average age of death has apparently increased to 87?

This stopped being about science somewhere around Day 2. Laughable that the head of Licensing in the state's largest and capitol city doesn't even know what the state regulations mean. Welcome to the club. Don't forget, while everyone else was locked down and warned to be masked and socially distanced, Charlie Baker encouraged large gatherings with no social distancing. Apparently a good dose of social justice is the antidote.

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This is where I get my common sense answers.

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The right thing to do is forget all the rule nuances and shutdown all indoor gathering until case counts are much lower.

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I'm running out of four letter words and patience for idiots like fishbrains.

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But he absolutely nailed it this time. Remember that soiree that Polito (whom I still think is a smoke) held? Laws for thee, and none for me.

These people don't have to, and don't care to, abide consequences. Stop rewarding them with votes.

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Congress shall make no law...

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I guess we can finally rebuild the Scollay Square streetscape once we get the still smoldering debris pushed into the harbor. Or have the fires been extinguished? I haven’t been down there in a few days.

Rather than parse the substantiality of the food, why not look at overall capacity, whether or not it is outdoors, and minimum spacing amongst the people there. No, wait, that would border on reasonability; instead, let’s ban the food trucks in favor of a popcorn popper. That will fix covid.

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rioting and looting destroyed much of downtown Boston

Nope, there was some destruction but to say it destroyed much of downtown Boston is a lie.

Shame on you Fishy, but I would expect nothing less from you.

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Dunks barely makes food onsite and they have been ESSENTIAL this whole pandemic! They make drinks and sell premade foods that only require toasting bread and or heating up--never anything that requires an actual cooking or a kitchen hood exhaust.

So why do hot dogs trigger people? No difference: bread and heated pre-cooked meats.

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Because we're all just Patty Duke inside

♪ Our Patty loves to rock and roll ♪
♪ A hot dog makes her lose control ♪

(yep I'm old)

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It’s all garbage processed meat. Drinking a beer is healthier, no exaggeration.

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Beer is the provision that made the Mayflower voyage possible.

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Not being a major corporation with bribe money and simply being a small local bar that the licensing board members don't patronize triggers people.

Our state and city government have done an absolute garbage job throughout this pandemic. It's turned into a kleptomaniacal exercise in picking winners. That we're a relatively healthy state is attributable to our citizens listening when scientists say this is bad, and when survivors say that this is really, really bad.

We excel in spite of our government.

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Boston Licensing Board: We're not really sure what the rules are, but that won't stop us from threatening to take your license away if you don't follow them.

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public health, even if not yet fully codified, is now the board's top priority

I would say that ESCAPE IS FUTILE and suck up careerism is their top priority right now, as it is ALWAYS their top priority.

Whoever used the phrase "substantial food" needs to be whacked with a spuckie. All the same, the licensing board does have latitude to define what that means absent other definitions and should do so ASAP if they are really putting public health as a top priority.

Might step on toes ... can't do that!

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Yeah, why can't they give an answer about managing lines versus busting them?

If the state later issues a contradictory regulation, the city should be able to send an update to licensees.

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But Bacon added that if all the restaurants were shut for Covid-19 reasons, well, you know how students are - they would just move to unsupervised apartment and even block parties outside their apartments, and it really makes sense to let operators like him provide a more supervised environment in which to provide a safe dining environment; otherwise, "the problem may get worse."

Poor Doug. Look at him having to make some kind of cockamamie excuse just to keep government fiat from closing his business. I sincerely feel for him on this one. How embarrassing to have to take time out of your day to go say that out loud.

The mental gymnastics necessary to present yourself as a savior of public health for 21-year olds. What a completely stupid country America is.

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It is settled law that a hot dog is not a sandwich as (Brookline, Brooklyn, and Brooklin's own) Judge John Hodgman has ruled. Stare decisis. That is all.

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if y'all can keep apart, what's the big deal?

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