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South End home-furnishings store wins right to offer wine, champagne in its cafe

Marilyn Kimball

Owner Meg Kimball discusses concept as Richard Ramirez listens.

The Boston Licensing Board today gave Modern Relik the right to serve drinks to patrons of the small cafe it now has its store at 485 Harrison Ave. in the South End.

In the likely event the city has no beer-and-wine licenses to dole out, however, the board agreed to try to work with the store to get it a BYOB license. Unlike liquor licenses, subject to artificial scarcity caused by a state Legislature that has never given up the idea of telling Boston what to do, BYOB licenses are unlimited, although customers are restricted to just one bottle of wine per visit.

At a hearing yesterday, owner Meg Kimball said she hopes to add wine and champagne to the breakfast, lunch and weekend-brunch menus at the store's cafe.

Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said today that Kimball had proven the required "public need" for a beer-and-wine license through her "unique concept" marrying "a high-end furniture store" with a place to eat. "I don't see anything else in that neighborhood that offers such an amenity," she said.

This would not be the first time a furniture store has won the right to serve alcohol in Boston, although the last ended in failure.

In 2013, Restoration Hardware bought a liquor license for its new store on Boylston Street, which it used for its grand opening, which was quickly shut by the Fire Department when too many people showed up. It then rarely used the license, causing the licensing board to threaten to take it away. It eventually sold the license.



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Very dramatic framing. Nice work Adam!

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The board still holds its meetings on Zoom, so all credit for that shot goes to the store owner.

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Good luck to these innovators.

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Yes. Car dealers would benefit from this, too. And those banks with cafés in them might write more loans.

Low miles
One owner

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I live near the furniture store and regularly go to MOD Espresso for my afternoon coffee. I'm glad to see this was granted. I would like to see them expand their hours into the early evening rather than close at 5PM. That block is quite dark without any retail or commercial space open until you get closer to Berkeley Street and although a couple tenants in the building have said they want the store to close at 5PM - I'd love to have a broader discussion and think the store owners would be amenable to later hours if the neighborhood supported them.

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