As the pandemic decimated the restaurant business, Home.Stead Bakery and Cafe in Fields Corner gave up its liquor license to try to save some money.
With people going back out now, the 30-seat bakery, at 1448 Dorchester Ave., formally requested a new license from the Boston Licensing Board at a hearing today. The board will likely vote on the application tomorrow, although whether it has one to dole out is another matter, given that the state limits the number of liquor licenses Boston has.
One of the bakery's co-owners, Annie Le, said that with a liquor license, the bakery could re-start the sort of evening events that people would otherwise be reluctant to book, such as painting nights and other art-related events, open-mic storytelling and even succulent-planting evenings.
She added that such events would then give local folks a place to go locally in the evening. "A lot of people go out of Dorchester in the evenings," she said.
In 2016, Home.stead was awarded one of the several dozen "neighborhood" licenses the legislature did grant Boston, in the culmination of a successful campaign by then City Councilor Ayanna Pressley to help smaller entrepreneurs who couldn't compete with waterfront and downtown chain restaurants for the city's limited number of regular licenses.
Unlike regular licenses, which can be resold - now for up to $400,000 - neighborhood licenses revert to the city when a holder goes out of business or, in Home.stead's case, does not renew. The board can then issue it to another outlet in Dorchester, Mattapan or Roxbury or in the city's "Main Streets" districts, but not in areas such as downtown and the North End.
Although there is no purchase price, holders have to pay an annual renewal fee, based on the number of seats in their establishments.