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Changing times: City councilor who once opposed late-night tacos downtown now supports them

Update: Approved.

The Boston Licensing Board could decide tomorrow whether to let El Jefe's Taqueria extend the closing time of its outlet in Emerson College's Little Building at Boylston and Tremont streets from midnight to 2 a.m.

Among the supporters of the proposal: City Councilor Ed Flynn, who had fought the idea just two years ago. Even the Midtown-Park Plaza Neighborhood Association, which in 2020 opposed the proposal, urging the licensing board to think of the children, in the form of impressionable young Emerson students, supported El Jefe's plan this time around, albeit at a meeting at which a significant number of people still opposed late-night tacos in the heart of New England's largest city.

Unlike two years ago, El Jefe owner John Schall did not even mention hard-studying Emerson students needing a break from their scholastic work at 1:30 a.m. in his presentation today. Instead, he - and his permitting consultant, Chris Tracy - said tacos at 2 a.m. would serve the area's large number of nurses, police officers and firefighters getting off work late at night and needing something to eat before they hit the road to home.

Schall said he'd originally thought to press his luck and try for a 3 a.m. closing, but said he decided not to, not because there's no way in hell the licensing board in New England's sleepiest big city would approve something like that, but because he realized that could cause problems if hordes of well lubricated dancers from Theater District clubs descended on his place after they close at 2 a.m. and the last thing he wants to do is cause more problems for already stressed police.

New York Pizza across Tremont is open until 3 a.m. on weekends.

Schall added that the later hours would help support Emerson College - his rent is based in part on his sales - and local non-profit groups, such as Bridge Over Troubled Waters, which he supports financially.

And it would help his late night workers, he said. Currently, by the time they finish closing up and cleaning the place at the end of their shift, the T has stopped running, but with a 2 a.m. closing, he could offer them more time to get the restaurant ready for the next day's operations, which would get them to 5:30 a.m. or so, when the T starts running again.

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Comments

Chris Tracy - said tacos at 2 a.m. would serve the area's large number of nurses, police officers and firefighters getting off work late at night people and needing something to eat before they hit the road to home hungry for tacos.

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Voting closed 29

It is not unreasonable to ask a business what their business plan for profits are when it comes to approving licensing. I have lived near 24 hour fast food places that clearly were marketed for the "general public" and it was always a zoo. You might not like that the neighbors wanted a justification but this is why it passed this time. They did the outreach, they explained their position, they are offering a solution for a need.

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Voting closed 11

It is not unreasonable to ask a business what their business plan for profits are when it comes to approving licensing.

Licensing shouldn't be a gatekeeper to doing business. It should be something that assures the business follows the rules and pays its dues. Those rules should be uniform, not nuanced.

Can businesses stay open until 2 AM? Then this business can stay open until 2 AM. They shouldn't have to justify their behavior if they are following the rules. Otherwise, you end up with all SORTS of equity problems...inherent biases, favoritism, etc.

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Voting closed 30

This intersection is one of the busiest and youngest parts of the city. If anybody old enough to complain about late night noise lives anywhere near that spot, it's because they *want* to be surrounded by late night activities and the noise that often accompanies them. And given the property values, chances are good that if they want peace and quiet, they can go get it at their place in Harwich.

Frankly, there *should* be a bunch of places down there open until 3-4AM just to help soak up the crowds as the clubs turn on the ugly lights. Many people aren't ready to quietly end their evening just yet, and 25 years ago I sort of remember many a night out that ended after 3am at Moon Villa, the Blue Diner, or Dolly's, where the crowds might be a little raucous but almost always cheerful and more focused on hitting the crab rangoon than the party next to theirs.

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Voting closed 10

In this fine city happened at this intersection in the mid 80s and of course I got ripped off.

I then then proceeded to dance away my sorrows to delightful tunes of Rick Astley, Paula Abdul and Taylor Dane at the Haymarket bar, sporting my Bugle Boy jeans and Reebok high tops and the world was a better place the next day.

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Voting closed 14

In the hospital/fenway area - after midnight - nothing is open. Kind of creepy walking around that area at 2 a.m.

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Voting closed 0