Some residents of a condo building on Washington Street in the South End today asked the Boston Licensing Board to turn back time for Alex's Pizza kitty-corner across the street - back to the midnight closing hours it had until 2019, when the board actually granted it permission to stay open until 3 a.m.
The family that owns the restaurant agreed today to stop serving at 2:45 a.m. - after board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce told them that their 3 a.m. closing time means nobody is allowed into the place after 3 a.m., sharp, and that it needs to stop advertising pizza until 3:30 a.m.
Board member Liam Curran, though, cautioned that even that means the restaurant needs to be more careful and stop taking orders that would otherwise mean running the ovens past closing. "If you only have three people on, maybe you shouldn't take on 50 orders at 2:50 in the morning," he said at the "informational" hearing the board held today to address "quality of life" issues. The nature of the hearing means the board will give the pizza place and its neighbors a chance to work things out before it considers any changes to the license.
Residents complained of endless late-night noise from all the people double and even triple parking on both sides of Washington Street outside one of the few places in all of Boston open that late - car radios cranked all the way up, horns constantly blaring as people blocked in try to get out, greasy paper plates and other trash blowing all up and down Washington and into Peters Park, large, glaring video menus shining across the street.
"They leave their 'Open' sign on at night even when they're closed," one resident added.
Plus, the place was sometimes staying open even later than the not-allowed 3:30 a.m. closing time on its Web site, residents said.
Alex's lawyer, George Jabour, said all the kvetching is coming from just one building, 1313 Washington St., and that other nearby residents love Alex's. But he didn't pursue that argument for long, saying the Nassar family, which owns the place, want to work with neighbors to quell the problems. "We're here to work with the neighbors and try to correct anything that is creating any issues with the neighbors," he said.
Besides, he said, the Nassars are a hard-working immigrant family. "Because of the nature of the restaurant business, the only way he can survive and support his family is to work these ungodly hours to survive," he said of the family patriarch, adding that towards 3 a.m., the restaurant's customers are mainly first responders and doctors from nearby hospitals.
He said the restaurant posted a sign asking people not to double park and to respect the neighborhood, but said part of the problem is that residents are allowed to park in the bus lane in front of the pizza place and that, well, you know how those Uber Eats and Grubhub drivers are - they will not be deterred from getting in and out quickly even if that means double or triple parking.
However, one immigrant resident of 1313, and others who said they're the children of immigrants, said the Nassars don't get to play that card - they're not objecting to anybody's immigrant status but to being kept constantly awake in the early morning.
"Often I'm up at 2 or 3 because of some kind of havoc out there," resident Barry Koretz said.
Mary Kelleher recalled one night where somebody laid into his horn for ten straight minutes to try to get people blocking him in to move - right under her bedroom window. It's gotten so bad sometimes she has to sleep in another room, she said.
Peter Friedmann, another resident, said he personally loves Alex's pizza and salad, but that the noise is just too much.
Faina Smith, herself an immigrant, agreed. "It's not we don't like this business, its not like we don't like immigrants."
Citing the parking and noise and what she said was arrogant workers, Joan Attianese would go further - she wants Alex's to just leave. "They don't belong on a residential street," she said. 1313 Washington St. was built in 2002, according to city assessing records; the block of stores that includes Alex's, part of a larger industrial building that stretches to Harrison Avenue, went up in 1920.
Another resident, Liam Brozen, said he doesn't live on the Washington Street side of his building, so has no complaints, but raised his virtual hand to speak because of all the talk about immigrants.
"This has gotten really weird about immigrants and racism and I'm not really sure what's going on here," he said. "It's just some weird stuff, I'd like it if we don't say that."