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Co-owner of troubled Maverick Square restaurant has a month and a half to get things straightened out or he could lose his liquor license

The Boston Licensing Board agreed today to give John Tyler one last chance to show he can actually run a restaurant in the Maverick Street building he and his ex-wife co-own and if he can't, it'll yank the place's liquor license and give it to somebody else.

At a meeting today, board members expressed skepticism that Tyler would, after several years of opening and closing his Maverick House Tavern with a series of managers, successfully transition to a Latino-based restaurant with a consultant - the owner of a Chilean hot-dog restaurant on Bennington Street - in September, as his attorney promised at a hearing on Tuesday.

Still, they agreed to hold a meeting in September to let Tyler formally introduce what would effectively be a new restaurant to the board, more specifically, to ask the board for approval of the restaurant's new name and any changes in seating or hours. But the board then added that just in case, they would also schedule a hearing in October at which to discuss canceling the restaurant's liquor license. If it then voted to do that, it could then award the liquor license to another restaurant in Dorchester, Mattapan or Roxbury or any of the city's Main Street districts, including the one in East Boston.

Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said she is "very concerned" about a series of management issues between Tyler, his former wife and the operators one of them brings in to try to run the place.

She added it's unfortunate everybody keeps trying to wrap the license up in seemingly endless litigation between the ex-spouses, because the license is a "restricted" neighborhood license, which means it has no value on its own since, unlike other liquor licenses in Boston, it cannot be sold but must be surrendered to the board should the restaurant go out of business - or the board determine it is no longer being put to "good and proper use."

Should the board revoke the license, it would have little trouble quickly finding another restaurant that could use it - Boston has long been unable to offer licenses to every restaurant that wants one, because the state legislature limits the number of liquor licenses in Boston, a legacy of anti-Irish animus back in the day. Another holdover from that time - that the governor appointed members of the licensing board instead of the mayor, was only changed in the early days of Marty Walsh's first term in office.

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Comments

And Tyler too! Couldn't resist

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has a friend in need of a liquor license.

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There’s a huge push for more of these neighborhood licenses across the city, and the state is dragging its feet on doing anything about it. For example The Smoke Shop just opened in Eastie with no license because none of these were available, and the bloated aftermarket prices make a standard license are unattainable for most.

Frankly, it’s hard to give this guy the benefit of the doubt when you follow the trail of everything he’s accused of, starting with allegedly stealing the original business out of the blue one day.

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You think everyone that wants a liquor license should get one? This isn’t Cancun, Mexico.

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provided that they can show they are of good character, have a sound business plan, and don't have a history of liquor license violations at previous establishments. Why should there be limits?

Zoning can make sure that licensees are properly located.

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In Cambridge and many other cities and towns, there is no cap on the number of licenses. That simply means that when Guy Fieri shows up and wants to open Guy's Cool Ranch Dressing and Margarita Trough, it's at the discretion of the municipal licensing organ to decide whether to issue a new permit. There is no obligation to issue a license.

Boston however has to beg the general court any time it wants more licenses, and it would take an act of the legislature to remove the cap entirely. Because power = money for pols, the legislature has negative interest in devolving this bit of moderately lucrative power (remember, Dianne Wilkerson went down partly for taking bribes connected to getting a liquor license) to the City.

There is an added wrinkle here that the restaurant industry itself is divided, because those who have licenses want to maintain the value of those licenses, which is inflated by their scarcity. The cost of these licenses plays more than a little role in why it's getting rare to find a new restaurant in downtown Boston that isn't built around some celebrity chef.

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there is even a secondary market for liquor licenses is insane. What other government license can you sell to someone? Drivers license? Building permit?

The whole system benefits a few large, deep pocketed restaurant groups and the attorneys and fixers that hang around them while screwing people who don’t have the capital to buy a $500k-$800k piece of paper. Barring major changes in the way Boston licenses are handled at the state level, when a restaurant closes, the license should be returned to the city and there should be a queue of applicants and the next one up should have the opportunity to present their case to the licensing board.

I’m not holding my breath for that to happen though. Just check OCPF for the contributions from the law firms with the most business before the licensing board.

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