An incident during the Marathon at a Newbury Street store that specializes in running shoes and clothing has the Boston Licensing Board rethinking the growing number of one-day alcohol licenses it has been granting to clothing stores along the tony shopping district.
Tracksmith, 285 Newbury St., had applied for and gotten a one-day license to serve beer to customers for this year's Marathon. It's the sort of event they've gotten licenses for at least 30 times since 2013, never with any problems, its attorney, Kristen Scanlon told the board at a hearing this morning.
But this time, around 2:26 p.m. on Oct. 11, BPD licensing detective Eddie Hernandez told the board, he was patrolling Newbury when he spotted several people holding cans of beer in front of the store right on the street. Unlike in other parts of the country, that's illegal in Boston, so he went inside and found owner Matt Taylor, who, he said, said promptly got the people inside and had staff clean up empties.
At the hearing, Taylor said it was actually just one person - one of Boston's "'preeminent cancer doctors" - who apparently spotted another cop he knew and went out to chat with him. The other people Hernandez saw, he said, might have been his customers sitting or standing on the store's stoop or patio - so within its licensed space - or other people wandering by with no connection to the store on a day when family members sometimes pop open beers for runners who have completed the race.
Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce, however, said the last thing Boston officers need on a busy day like the Marathon need is to keep herd on people drinking on the street, and said the board's going to have to reexamine how many one-day licenses it issues to Newbury Street clothiers.
"It's of great concern to the board as to the number of requests we're getting" from places that aren't in the bar business and that might not be as familiar with the state's and city's liquor-serving regulations, she said. "These weekends are a big strain on police resources throughout the city."
Referring specifically to the Tracksmith incident, she continued, "from the board's perspective this is very very serious. ... Prominent doctor or not, how did the person leave with a beer?"
Joyce added that when she reviewed the store's request for a one-day license, she thought it was limited to the inside of the store, not to outside areas, such as its steps or patio.
Taylor said that in the future, he would add staff at the door to ensure nobody tries to leave with a beer in hand - even to talk to a cop they know - and that he would have signs posted warning customers not to go beyond those points with a beer in hand.
The board could decide at a meeting Thursday whether Tracksmith warrants any sort of punishment.
Scanlon asked the board to note that the store has never been cited before and that even with the Marathon citation, "there was no unruly party. no report of public intoxication, of noise, of a disturbance or of particuarly egregious behavior."