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House actually passes measure to give Boston more liquor licenses, almost all of which could not be resold to large national chains in the Seaport

The state House of Representatives today passed a measure that would give Boston 205 new liquor licenses - most designated for Zip codes where large national chains have little to no interest in setting up shop - to dole out over the next three years.

The measure, originally proposed by state Rep. Christopher Worrell (Roxbury and Dorchester) based on a home-rule petition from his brother, City Councilor Brian Worrell (Dorchester, Mattapan), now goes to the Senate, where state Sen. Liz Miranda (Roxbury) has filed a similar bill.

The proposal would let the Boston Licensing Board issue 180 licenses for restaurants and bars over the next three years in 12 specific Zip codes: 02119, 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, 02126, 02128, 02129, 02130, 02131, 02132 and 02136. Over the course of three years, under the proposal, each Zip code would ultimately get 15 licenses set aside for them: Nine for restaurants or bars that want to serve all kinds of alcohol and six for restaurants that only want to serve beer and wine.

Unlike traditional Boston liquor licenses, which can be bought and sold on the open market and used for collateral, these geographically-restricted licenses would have to be returned to the city should the holders go out of business, so they would continue to be affordable for new restaurant operators - and in the same Zip code in which the original holder operated.

The goal is to create a way for small restaurateurs in outer neighborhoods to offer adult beverages in a way they've long been priced out of because legislators insist on keeping their thumbs on Boston licenses, which has driven costs up beyond $600,000 for full liquor licenses.

"Ultimately, this is a no-cost economic development tool for 180 restaurants in the city," Brian Worrell said in a statement. "The end result will be more vibrant business corridors such as Blue Hill Avenue and a boost to city revenues with additional money from the meals tax."

By an absolutely amazing coincidence, the bill also sets aside three neighborhood licenses specifically for the tiny Oak Square section of Brighton, which just happens to be represented by state Rep. Michael Moran, the house majority leader, who had bottled up efforts in recent years to get Boston more liquor licenses, ostensibly because he didn't want all that power going to the heads of Boston leaders, even the ones he says he likes, like Mayor Wu.

The measure also provides for 15 non-transferable licenses for non-profit organizations that want to serve liquor - similar to a single license the legislature granted a couple years ago for the specific use of the Strand Theater in Uphams Corner.

The remaining seven licenses would be the more full-bodied licenses, which, like the older traditional licenses, could be bought or sold on the open market.

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Comments

time!

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Now it’s time to take control of Boston back from the suburbs. This will help arrest Boston’s death spiral. Let’s keep it going.

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Honest question. The death spiral in my mind is from the collapse in demand for office space, less workers in the city, dysfunctional T, and low morale among police (lax enforcement). How do liquor licenses help break the death spiral?

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In my opinion, the lack of liquor licenses is just one of the ways that we discourage new businesses in Boston. The lack of restaurants in surrounding neighborhoods--like Dorchester--means that fewer people go there to see that it's nice, the residents don't have places to go, the neighborhood is less interesting and deader, and if you have eaten out in Dorchester recently you will know that it decreases competition, thus impacting quality and especially the price. You can eat out more cheaply in Iceland than you can in Dorchester. We had a guest from Bern Switzerland complain that Boston is too expensive--in particular the restaurants.

Our city and state office holders should be concerned about the T and the lack of liquor licenses as two of their main priorities. No more of this shit with, "It's not in my jurisdiction." And I am also looking at you, Ayanna Pressley. I know that she is a federal official, but do something for your state will you? How about Dorchester? You are the representative, you know?

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I appreciate the reply and learning your perspective. I always see Reykjavik top the list of most expensive places to visit, so your comment has been illuminating.

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Is gentrification. With more people that go to Dorchester and find that it's nice, with interesting places to go out to eat comes greater demand for housing that potentially squeezes out current residents.

The expense of eating out in Boston is not due to having too few restaurants competing with each other. It's more due to restaurants having to pay more to attract workers -- that gets reflected in higher prices. If you want restaurant workers to be paid a living wage, you have to be willing to pay prices that come along with that.

I'm not entirely convinced this leads to as many new restaurants in the targeted zip codes as envisioned, though. If you've got an unrestricted license now in 02125 maybe you sell it to some place in the Seaport and apply for an 02125 license.

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While higher wages is one factor the in those increased prices so is servicing debt on a $600k liquor license that you bought to open your restaurant

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The proposal would let the Boston Licensing Board issue 180 licenses for restaurants and bars over the next three years in 12 specific Zip codes: 02119, 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, 02126, 02128, 02129, 02130, 02131, 02132 and 02136. Over the course of three years, under the proposal, each Zip code would ultimately get 15 licenses set aside for them: Nine for restaurants or bars that want to serve all kinds of alcohol and six for restaurants that only want to serve beer and wine.

Unlike traditional Boston liquor licenses, which can be bought and sold on the open market and used for collateral (emphasis mine), these geographically-restricted licenses would have to be returned to the city should the holders go out of business, so they would continue to be affordable for new restaurant operators - and in the same Zip code in which the original holder operated.

Keep the liquor licenses local, inexpensive, and non-transferable? Sounds like a great idea to me...that's how liquor licenses work in many other states.

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Something like 75 licenses that then City Councilor Ayanna Pressley somehow persuaded the legislature to give Boston.

The difference between those and the ones in the new proposal: The old ones can be used anywhere in Dorchester, Roxbury or Mattapan or any of the city's Main Street districts, which is how you can wind up with Mattapan still having no restaurants that serve alcohol, while the new ones will stick with the Zip codes they were initially distributed in.

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but not the kind you get so often in the fine establishments in Mattapan. It's just not like the old days when you could safely stop into Ye Olde Brown Jug at Morton and Blue Hill, have a shot and a beer, and pick up a few bargain hot items from the extensive inventory.

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Before my time. My grandfather used to frequent the Jug. By my time it was the Ave Tav or McCarthys.

I think this is one of the rare times I got a gentle Gaffin rebuttal :-)

My impression was that these new revocable licenses would replace the traditional ones; they will be running alongside the 75 traditional licenses that were added (stingily) by the legislature.

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Allston and Brighton excluded.

Even when government says it's going to do less picking of winners, it still (expletive) picks winners. As with student loan forgiveness, I guess I'm happy for other regular folks.

EDIT: Never mind, I kept reading, and saw that Oak Square got three. Cool. Place needs a little more life. Glad I lived up the hill above it for two years. I'm still sad about Fiorella's being gone. Did I see a pizzeria opened in their spot?

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The Last Drop not lively enough?

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They could use the competition.

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Sadly the new spot where Fiorellas used to be is a little blah, and hopefully they settle in a bit more. I've heard that there might be a restaurant opening where wildflower pantry used to be (where castle bar used to be)

Will no one think of the long suffering folks in the Boston parts of 02467?

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Bertucci's is enough for ya?

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My first thought was, why just Oak Square and not all of 02135?

Then I saw that the 18th Suffolk House district is a gerrymandered mess. It even includes parts of the MIT campus. https://www.sec.state.ma.us/divisions/bookstore/maps/download/Suffolk_18...

Why are they allowed to cherry-pick a demographic to support a specific candidate like this? Whose job is it to make sure the districting is fair?

Also, Oak Square isn't defined in the bill: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4696.pdf . Who decides which properties are in or out?

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Does it mean we will get more mediocre restaurants?

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If you prefer chain restaurants, there are dozens a short drive away, in the suburbs.

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He'd have to leave the basement

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You're right. Keep the financial bar high and everything gets better. Right? Right? Capital One Cafes are just so FUNKY! OMG

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make the storefront churches an offer they won't refuse.

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You can now bet sports on your phone.

If you think Packy's was getting by on just alcohol, I have a bridge to sell you.

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Unlicensed and even apparently based off-shore.

I'm not going to name names.

It's still a lucrative sideline.

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By enough of a margin to get people to show up to their storefront to complete the transaction? If I'm getting +115 from both these guys and the entity on my phone, I'm not getting up.

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Draft Kings has shareholders to please and advertisers to pay.

I wouldn't be surprised if Bodega betting was a better bettor deal.

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chicken wings. RIP.

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By an absolutely amazing coincidence, the bill also sets aside three neighborhood licenses specifically for the tiny Oak Square section of Brighton, which just happens to be represented by state Rep. Michael Moran, the house majority leader, who had bottled up efforts in recent years to get Boston more liquor licenses, ostensibly because he didn't want all that power going to the heads of Boston leaders, even the ones he says he likes, like Mayor Wu.

Just ... wow. I mean on one hand, I am glad that Brighton gets SOMETHING because Oak Sq could use more establishments. I mean Thai North would be great with some Liter Bottles of Chang for example. But really Mike?

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Did Jadu get their liquor license yet? That place looks like it"s going to be fun.