Food & Drink

“North End Has Been Adequately Served” Says Licensing Board in Rejecting Liquor Licenses

Hanover St. in Boston’s North End

None of the five all-alcohol license upgrades awarded Thursday by the Boston Licensing Board went to North End establishments.

“I think the North End has been adequately served” (by existing licenses), said board member Keeana Saxon. The North End and Chinatown already have a “saturation of licenses,” added Liam Curran with support by Chair Christine Pulgini on the 3-person board.

There were five neighborhood applicants vying for the valuable liquor licenses, including Salem Street eateries, Antico Forno, Terramia and Crudo along with Carmelina’s and Strega on Hanover Street.

In addition to the North End, the Seaport (South Boston waterfront) and Chinatown were also eliminated from consideration because they also have enough licenses, according to the board. The three members cited their mandate of serving the “public need,” indicating such need is greater in other areas of the city.

Of the licenses awarded, there were a couple in Downtown close to the North End / Waterfront neighborhood including Boston Chops steakhouse at Temple Place in Downtown Crossing (former Mantra). Also, developer Related Beal received one in the West End on Beverly Street (near Lovejoy Wharf) for its yet-to-open hotel and 241-seat restaurant. Other licenses awarded were scattered throughout the city, mostly in outlying districts. See Universal Hub’s rundown here.

The limited number of unrestricted licenses are highly sought after with each valued at upwards of $300,000. All-alcohol licenses allow establishments to serve hard liquor beyond beer/wine/cordials, such as popular signature cocktails.

In 2014, the State legislature raised the city’s 970 limit by adding 75 new licenses. Sixty of the new licenses are “restricted” because they are being designated for underserved neighborhoods (Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, and Roxbury). Fifteen of the licenses are “unrestricted” meaning they can be awarded anywhere in the City of Boston.

Ten of the 15 unrestricted licenses were awarded last year, including three in the North End (Monica’s, Cantina Italiana & Mare). There are approximately 90 establishments with liquor licenses (beer/wine and all-alcohol) currently operating in the North End / Waterfront neighborhood.