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Back Bay 'supper club' gets OK for table bottle service after promising it's not turning into a nightclub

The Boston Licensing Board yesterday approved plans by HuE, in the Copley Square Hotel at Exeter Street and Huntington Avenue in the Back Bay, to let tables order bottle service after promising it's not going to try to recreate its predecessor, the Storyville nightclub.

The restaurant, which swears it caters to an older, more sophisticated and quieter crowd with a taste for "global" cuisine, has also applied to the Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing for a live-entertainment license. But Kathleen Joyce, who chairs both the board and the office, said the application is not for patrons to cut a rug to, especially since the place does not have a dance floor - unlike one of co-owner George Aboujaoude's other ventures, Bijou in the Theater District.

At a hearing Wednesday, HuE - the capitalized E is silent - attorney Tom Miller said tables getting an entire bottle of spirits, to be poured by a waitperson, would "enhance the ambiance of the super-club concept," which consists of shared plates in "a globally inspired style."

As at other Boston places with bottle service, patrons would not be allowed to grab the bottle or pour the drinks themselves.

HuE will have roughly ten tables at which patrons could reserve bottle service, manager Nick Saber said.

Conrad Armstrong of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay expressed some concern because "when we hear bottle service, we think nightclub not dining service."

"This is a supper club," Miller said. "This is not intended to be a nightclub, this is a table establishment without a dance floor of any note." He added that the restaurant is open until 1:30 a.m., just a half hour before closing time.

Despite Miller's reassurances, board members agreed yesterday to specifically note the comments about bottle service being a supplement to dining, not partying, in their HuE file, just in case the owners try to change the concept in the future.

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sophisticated and quieter crowd" like charging $350 for a bottle of mid-shelf vodka.

Who do these people think they are kidding? No restaurant does this: it is purely a nightclub move.

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This is the kind of bullshit that needs to be disposed with if Boston wants to get serious about improving nightlife. There needs to be a push toward a more hands-off approach; this whole system seems designed to guarantee that nothing like NYC's nightlife could even really be experimented with here.

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scene run deeper than a handsy Licensing Board and posh-neighborhood NIMBYs. There's the forced 2am closing time and public transit that stops too early, for starters. Were those problems to be fixed, you might not see the concentration of clubs in a couple of neighborhoods and the very unappealing 2:15am scrum that results; I wouldn't relish that in my neighborhood, either. (I'm not feeling like we're short of bottle-service nightclubs, maybe the least attractive thing about NYC nightlife to me.)

My own interests are hurt worse by the cap on liquor licenses controlled by the state legislature. That has adverse ramifications up and down the hospitality industry here, starting with making it impossibly expensive for indie chef/owners to get started here.

When a liquor license in a downtown neighborhood gets priced at $350K-$450K due to artificial scarcity, great young chefs flee Boston to set up shop elsewhere. What steps into that void is deep-pocketed national chains and mediocre high-concept places fronted by TV or social-media celebrities. Just terrible for our dining scene.

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