The Boston Licensing Board decides tomorrow whether to let Gopuff, a service that offers app-based delivery of convenience-store stuff from a warehouse on Dorchester Avenue in South Boston, buy the South Bay Stop & Shop's liquor license so it can start offering six packs and hardier drinks to its customers in South Boston and nearby parts of Dorchester.
The request comes as city officials - including South Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn - and State Police are trying to crack down on gadabouts using online services to have spirits delivered to them as they work on their tans or enjoy post-sundown socializing at Southie beaches, where, as in the rest of Boston, public consumption of alcohol is forbidden.
Just last week, the licensing board held an emergency meeting with South Boston packie owners to demand they knock it off.
A Gopuff official and its Boston lawyer attended that meeting. Today, at a hearing on its request to buy the South Bay license, they assured the board that their ordering software can be programmed to "geofence" the beaches and block any orders that list the beach or nearby areas for delivery.
Gopuff attorney Andrew Upton said Gopuff would actually be performing a public service by removing a full-service liquor store from South Bay, around which he said have come complaints about the density of liquor stores in that area.
Although, as required by law, the Gopuff warehouse at 371 Dorchester Ave. will have an actual walk-in area where people could buy liquor, it will only be 100 square feet in size, will have the lights set low, will have no sign advertising it outside and any purchases will require a credit card, he said.
He said the service is aimed at Gopuff customers at home who, on ordering a pint of Ben and Jerry's or a back of chips for delivery might want to throw in a six pack or a bottle of wine. The company has been offering delivery of non-boozy substances, with just a $1.95 delivery charge, from Dorchester Avenue since 2019.
Gopuff manager Cameron Kilberg added that, in addition to computerized geofencing, the company requires deliveries to residential addresses or offices - deliveries can't be made to corners or, in the South Boston millieu, beaches.
She added that drivers undergo training in how to limit who gets liquor: They are not supposed to hand over alcohol to the visibly drunk and they are trained how to look at IDs to ensure the people who've ordered liquor are over 21.
They mayor's office supported the proposal. However, Flynn and at-large Councilors Michael Flaherty and Annissa Essaibi George opposed the proposed license sale. An aide to Flynn acknowledged the company has done considerable outreach with Andrew Square residents but said additional work is needed on "quality of life" issues.