Boston to try again to get more liquor licenses for certain outer neighborhoods
The Boston City Council today unanimously approved a proposed plea to the state legislature to grant Boston 250 new liquor licenses - but only for certain neighborhoods.
Under the proposal, the city would get 50 new licenses a year for five years to offer to restaurants in Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, East Boston, Hyde Park, Roslindale and West Roxbury - specifically, two full liquor licenses and three beer-and-wine licenses per year in the 02119, 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, 02126, 02128, 02131, 02132, and 02136 Zip codes.
Restaurant owners could not resell the licenses, which would have to stay in the Zip codes to which they were initially assigned. If the Boston Licensing Board did not dole out the full complement of five licenses per year in each Zip code - in the past, for example, few liquor licenses have been proposed in Mattapan - they would stay with the board until somebody did apply for them, under the proposal.
City Councilor Brian Worrell (Dorchester) said the measure would help bring some equity to the Boston restaurant scene, in which liquor licenses that now cost in the mid six figures have been largely snapped up by chains and other pricey restaurants along the waterfront, the Seaport and Beacon Hill. He said Mattapan currently only has 8 of the city's total 1,090 liquor licenses. More available licenses, especially if not sold at a prohibitive cost on the open market, would make it possible for more minority- and women-owned restaurants to thrive, he said.
Neither he nor other sponsors explained how West Roxbury's 02132 but not Charlestown's 02129, got on the proposed list.
City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune (at large) said that in addition to helping restaurant owners make money, neighborhood liquor licenses encourage people to stay local, rather than trekking downtown for a meal and a drink. She pointed to Hyde Park's Park 54 as an example of a restaurant that is helping to bring life back to a quiet stretch of that neighborhood.
City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale), said there's even a sort of "butterfly effect" that links restaurants with liquor licenses to increased community health - people in areas with restaurants that can also serve alcohol tend to eat less unhealthy fast food.
Boston has tried but failed to get new liquor licenses for years from a legislature that prefers to tell Boston just how many licenses it can offer. Last year, the legislature did grant Boston five new licenses - four specifically for the Bolling Building in Nubian Square and one for the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner.
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I'd bet another public health
I'd bet another public health benefit would be less drunk driving, from people having more options to go out close to home.
A step in the right direction if
the state legislature is amendable, which history shows they have not been.
Side note: yes, licenses get snapped up by well-heeled chain outlets in the Waterfront and Seaport, but Beacon Hill? I see most of those going to other downtown-ish neighborhoods like residential Southie, Back Bay and Fenway. Maybe not a big error, but seems like a factual error there, which cannot help.
Just issue the licenses
And let the state legislators go out and get them back. It would require them leaving their offices, and they may have collected enough dust that they wouldn't even hear it had happened.
A commenter on here years ago
Said "When did lying become beyond the pale for politicians?"
Just say "Okay, state, we'll adhere to your cap", and then don't do it.
Get rid of license cap for all
Why have license restriction in the first place, other than to give bureaucrats a job and collect fees?
Give out all the licenses that legitimate business want and let the market decide who is successful. If a business is popular it will succeed, if not they will close.
Removing licenses will get rid of the artificial scarcity, the very expensive secondary market, and promote equity since anyone could start a new business regardless of zip code or other factors.
Please done start with the puritanical think of the children. Having more restaurants selling alcohol does not mean its open season to sell to every child. Generally most new restaurants close within the first year, only the most popular succeed, thus naturally limiting the active number in any given moment.
Of course, if you want the Gov can revoke the license if the business is misbehaving or breaking the law.
The history here is that the Brahmin-led
State House asserted the cap when the upstart progeny of Irish and Italian immigrants started winning the Mayor's office, as a way to hang onto one kind of control over the city. It is a damnable holdover that stifles innovation, a major reason why so many of our bright young indie chefs flee the city when they want to start their own place.
I don't mind licensing, but the artificial scarcity of the current system is a pox on the restaurant scene. Boston does not need more dull, middlebrow, deep-pocketed national chain outlets, but that's what we get when full-spirits licenses cost upward of half a million bucks in some neighborhoods.
Anti Irish bigotry
Exactly MC Slim. I am very aware of the anti Irish origins of the current law. (I did not know about the anti Italian part. )
The fact is that the bigoted English-American Brahmin Yankee power structure in Massachusetts viewed the Irish as a bunch of dirty criminal drunkards. So one solution was to take away their access to alcohol.
The Great and General Court has moved away from anti-Irish viewpoint to a more nuanced anti-Boston approach. But it still is BS. Repeal the law. Let individual cities and towns decide.
Indeed, arguably the owners of transferrable licenses deserve no more protection than the taxi medallion holders got. Key difference being that the state comes down on you like a hawk if you start skirting alcohol regs, obviously the hackney carriage unit was unequipped to prevent Uber and Lyft running circles around it. Taxi medallions lost their value because we let them be undermined -- it'll take a legislative solution to deal with the liquor caps.
Licensing has a purpose and
Licensing has a purpose and that's mostly to make sure the city is aware there's booze there, that the restaurant has promised to adhere to the rules of serving it, and that all applicable food/serve safe/bartender trainings/etc are applied. It should be a beaurocratic process akin to applying for a parking permit. Collect your documents and send them in and get the license. The fact they're limited and have to be bought and sold on the black market is insane. Some of the absurd trade deals restaurants have done, reported in our own uhub, are insane.
The one good thing you can say about the lawmakers who uphold this status quo is that they haven't exactly stooped to lying about the welfare of children as a justification. They blatantly admit it's about protecting existing licenseholders' "value" that's stored in those overpriced open market licenses. It's a protectionism racket but the only people who have any motivation to fix it are people who live in Boston. We can't even get camberville or other inner townships, who might otherwise be on board for a good "western mass needs to stop thinking they'll tell us what to do when we pay their bills" fight, because cambridge, somerville, newton, even DEDHAM has a thriving restaurant scene that relies on people from Boston who have no local options. And those big restaurant groups that drop half a million on those licenses all donate to the same politicians who wring their hands about "not devaluing" the "investment".
It's absurd that West Roxbury has about the same amount of decent sit down restaurants total as Legacy Place mall does.
And then throw the bottle in
And then throw the bottle in the trash after consuming. Don't ban nips. If only the huge nip and needle population in Boston would properly dispose of the paraphernalia of their disease. Now, for the people with money to spend at restaurants with liquor licenses none of you are a problem.
I never liked the license
I never liked the license resale system for anything to be honest. It creates massive inequality and adds extra expenses to the bottom line. Worst part is the local community doesn't even benefit from that 6 figure license sale and food and drink ends up costing more.
When I worked in Dorchester it was very difficult to get licenses for local establishments because of the current set up. I think it would really help the main streets and mini downtowns to have an easier system that doesn't funnel all the licenses to one area.
You don't have to think it
If you go to comparable cities where it's a routine order of business to get a liquor license as part of opening a restaurant the "outer neighborhoods" have a much more vibrant restaurant scene dominated by owner-operated places rather than vc backed chains.
While we’re at it, let’s get
While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the ridiculous BYOB license. Why should you need a license to allow people to bring their own alcohol to a place without a license? What’s next, a license to bring alcohol to a place without a BYOB license?
Look at other townships
Look at other townships surrounding Boston. All the little neighborhood squares have a fun pub and maybe some bougie hipster bar with small plates. It creates a vibrant neighborhood spot that doesn't require taking a broken train system for over an hour to go downtown and pay 17$ for a margarita because the restaurant is essentially paying a mortgage they took to buy that license and has to pay it off.
that bars and restaurants in the Seaport and South Boston neighborhoods have no problem acquiring licenses.
Only if ...
You stop to think why they can do so.
Exactly. It's almost as if
Exactly. It's almost as if being able to sell $20 mixed drinks and pricy entrees in a huge space makes it easier to pay for a multi hundred thousand dollar license as opposed to a local place with ten tables.
hope some go to dance halls and old school taverns
not just twee gentrifying restaurants, "gastropubs," and "craft beer" swillrooms.
Stale Coors Light, sweat and blood on the floor.
This proposal is really well thought out
It brings a reasonable number of licenses to areas that could most use them and forces them to stay there. It's small enough that it won't drastically undermine the value of the existing licenses, which is key. The devaluing of existing licenses for mom and pop places has been a big stumbling block in the past. I hope this gains some traction in the legislature.