The Boston Licensing Board today began considering what to do about Crave, 128 Brighton Ave. in Allston, which one police sergeant said used to have the best fried chicken in all Boston but which he says has turned into a trouble-causing nightclub with valet parking and often a DJ.
Crave, which has a full liquor license, has been on police radar since last December, when a man was shot outside, D-14 Sgt. Carl Nemes told the board today. Now, he said, it seems like every Saturday night, he and other D-14 officers have to respond to the place for fights and crowds, he said, especially at its 1 a.m. closing.
Following an April hearing, the board voted that Crave was not to blame for the shooting. But 'It's the same thing over and over and over again," Nemes said, referring to Saturday-night trouble at the place.
A few months ago, he said, he drove up and cited the restaurant for operating as a nightclub without an entertainment license - and as a precaution, had a two-officer cruiser stationed outside at closing as roughly 200 people let out. But even with their presence, "a huge melee" broke out on Brighton Avenue - and after he sped back to the scene, he made one arrest himself. "If I could have arrested 20 people, I would have," he said. "Unfortunately, there were three of us and maybe 40 of them [brawlers]."
Crave does not have a permanent entertainment license for music, let alone a DJ. The restaurant has gotten a series of temporary "one-time" entertainment licenses, but none since July, according to the city's licensing database.
Nemes said that when he goes in now for a "licensed premises inspection" and asks whoever seems to be in charge for a copy of the one-day entertainment license they theoretically should have if they don't have a permanent one, "he always kind of plays stupid and then will ultimately say they don't have one," he said, adding that when he then asks to speak to owner Susan Cheng, the guy will respond "Susan's in Thailand."
Nemes says it's all unfortunate. He recalled that when he first came to D-14 about 18 months ago, he would often get a bite to eat there. "To be quite honest, they had the best fried chick sandwich in the city of Boston," he said. But now, the chicken end of the business seems to have gone away, and it's pretty much just a nightclub, he said. "It's as if they're not even trying to hide it anymore."
Nobody from Crave attended today's notice. Board Executive Secretary Danny Green said the restaurant was officially notified of the hearing on Nov. 1.
The board took no action today but could consider its next steps at a meeting on Thursday.