Real Estate

NEWRA’s ZLC Committee Listens to Lucia’s Live Entertainment Proposal

luciaszlcgroupnov2009Owner Donato Frattaroli of Ristorante Lucia at 415 Hanover St. presented with his attorney, Michael Overson, at the November 24th NEWRA Zoning, Licensing and Construction (ZLC) committee meeting. Frattaroli has a live entertainment application pending for two instruments, one vocalist and a comedian in the basement portion of his 3-story restaurant on Hanover Street.

The restaurant is just outside the Hanover Street commercial district so a zoning variance is required in addition to a license from the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. The zoning hearing is scheduled for January 12, 2010. The license would be for 7 days a week up to 11:00 pm.

The ZLC Committee meeting is for informational purposes only. North End residents will vote to support or oppose the application at the regular NEWRA meeting on December 10th, 7pm at the Nazzaro Center.

Similar to the Neighborhood Council meeting, the discussion at the ZLC meeting centered around the risks of setting further precedent for all North End restaurants versus the individual merits of the applicant. The neighborhood agrees that Lucia’s Frattaroli has been a long-time responsible business owner and resident. Concerns were expressed that it will be difficult to turn down future entertainment license requests. A comment was made that the North End should not become an entertainment district and that this license is a move in that direction.

lucia415hanover-1Additional points made as part of the ZLC meeting:

  • Donato does not believe that live entertainment will change the type of environment because people will be dining. One attendee raised the question of the comedian, which raises the level of entertainment to a performance rather than just dining music.
  • What will prevent other restaurateurs from getting live entertainment licenses? Donato responded that he should not be penalized for the actions of bad restaurateurs in the neighborhood. He has done a lot for the community, is a responsible business owner and is a long-term resident of the North End.
  • There is a bar in the basement, mostly for patrons eating or waiting for tables. There is no restriction in Lucia’s alcohol license. There will be no special fees/cover charges to see the entertainment.
  • With regards to the zoning variance, it was questioned what the standard is for this type of decision. Lucia’s will present that the location is unique and just outside the Hanover St. commercial district. It was unclear whether the location falls within the Freedom Trail overlay zone.
  • The basement has 3 egresses from the basement – Hanover St, Fairfield Place and Harris St. The basement is soundproofed with foam insulation. Handicap access is not required for entertainment. Donato noted that Lucia’s is one of the few North End restaurants with handicap accessible bathrooms.
  • Donato raised the point that he is “trying to do the right thing,” by going through the neighborhood and City licensing process, unlike other restaurants that ignore the regulations and offer live entertainment anyway.
  • Live entertainment would be helpful to his business during the slow seasons for gatherings and when business is down.

A ZLC Committee Co-Chair made the following statement:

“There have been five live entertainment applications that have come before NEWRA in recent years. All have been withdrawn or opposed due to neighborhood opposition. (Ed: It was not clear whether NEWRA supported the Strega license for a cappella singers.) There is no doubt that Donato is a good business owner and believes Lucia’s could mitigate the impacts raised at the meeting. However, the North End is oversaturated with restaurants, bars with large crowds having outgrown the sidewalks and blocking traffic on even side streets. It is difficult for residents to enjoy their own neighborhood. How do we control all of that? Should we draw a line in the sand?”

Donato responded that he agrees with most of the committee’s remarks and “hates the fact that Hanover St. is often blocked. It is disgusting how some others have ruined things.” The neighborhood has often tried to stop more licenses but political connections resulted in more of them being awarded. Donato believes a lot of the problem is with student drinking. “What about building owners, aren’t they responsible?” Donato does not want to be thrown in with the mix of other business owners and believes his application should be judged on the merits of his restaurant alone which has not had any complaints and been there for 30 years.

Attorney Overson framed the issue as “Does the organization want to send a message to all restaurant owners? Think about whether this application will increase these problems or not. If no, then approve it. This license will not be changing the nature of the operation so that noise and traffic will not be an issue.” He clarified that the license would not be transferable, but the zoning change would stay with the building.

It was noted that Fiore’s live entertainment license has conditions for only 1 performer at a time, no amplification, no piped sound to upper floor, no speakers and all doors and windows are to be kept closed. The ZLC Committee believes the Fiore application set the standard for live entertainment license conditions.

At it’s November 9th meeting, the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council voted 5-2 in favor of a live entertainment license application for Ristorante Lucia. The council added a conditional 6-month probationary period to its support.

Related posts:
NEWNC Supports Lucia’s Live Entertainment License Request
Lucia Applies For Live Entertainment License

10 Replies to “NEWRA’s ZLC Committee Listens to Lucia’s Live Entertainment Proposal

  1. And so, to accomodate a good owner, preserving the character of a great neighborhood is deemed less important than creating one more unneccessary venue for late night entertainment.

    "Hard cases make bad law."

  2. Why not focus on the restaurant owners who 1) serve after the hours on their license and/or 2) serve alcohol to patrons waiting on the sidewalk and/or 3) have live entertainment without an entertainment license and/or 4) have bars in their restaurant which are not permitted on their alcohol license and/or 5) absentee landlords who do nothing to control the loud parties in their bulidings?

    Supporting Donato’s request for an entertainment license is NOT going to change the character of the North End one bit. Losing Donato’s generosity to the North End will hurt the neighborhood. You people need a reality check. Support the businesses that support the neighborhood. Stop supporting and defending the ones who do not live here, take their money and run and care only about themselves.

    Hanover St is crowded on weekends from the time the bakeries open in the morning until the last restaurant closes at 4AM. Denying an entertainment license to Lucia’s is not going to improve that one bit.

    I agree with Donato’s lawyer. Maybe it si time to send a message to the other business owners that "good guys" will get neighborhood support and "bad guys" will not.

  3. I think the last poster is the one who needs a "reality check." Of course we should also focus on getting the bad property owners out – but doing that doesn’t negate the fact that the North End does not need more live entertainment venues, legal or illegal. As noted, the neighborhood is crowded and noisy enough as it is. Of course we support the businesses that support the neighborhood. That’s why the businesses stay here. But it doesn’t mean allowing the quality of life to keep sliding. More owners will want live entertainment now to compete – where does it end? It ends with the quality of neighborhood life for the locals diminishing while the owners make more money off the day trippers.

  4. Strega got an enterainment license, over a year latter Fiore asked for one, now over a year later Lucia’s. Wow, what a rush to turn Hanover St into Landsdowne St. The noise is from private parties in apartments , from the drunks coming back from Landsdowne St, Canal St, and Quincy Market.

    And wow, what a deterioration in the quality of life to have Steet Magic perform at Strega, a piano bar at FIore’s and quiet jazz available at Lucia’s. The music blaring from Martini’s is louder and more offensive!

    This is a lively, vibrant neighborhood, much more so then when I moved here 22 years ago. Yes it is crowded. Yes, I would like to wave a magic wand at times to make the tourists and other visitors disappear so that I can walk without getting pushed into the flower boxes or have to walk in the street. For better or worse, that is what happens when you live in a neighborhood on the Freedom Trail and with over 100 restaurants and cafes and a new and revitalized retail shopping area.
    The change that has made this neighborhood’s quality of life deteriorate is the invasion of students from Suffolk and Emerson who have driven up rents and added nothing but noise and the sense that they are entitled to do whatever they want whenever they want to the neighborhood.

    Taz. Did you not notice all the restaurants when you moved here?

  5. My View:
    No matter how hard we try to do what is best for the neighborhood and get along with the restaurant owners we can’t win. After reviewing everyone’s comments, it is clear the North End became out of hand a very long time ago. I have to give credit to Donato because he came before the NEWNC and talked to us. On that note I respect him for doing just that. Look around … as you have already stated, there is Strega with the music, the live TV and what about permits he came to us after the fact?

    Frankie DePasquale opens up a Pasta place and now he sells cold-cuts. I don’t get it. Restaurant Owners ask permission to serve liquor at their bar WITH FOOD! I see a lot of liquor but WHERE IS THE FOOD? Your are all correct that everyone is doing what they want to do and the few that do respect both NEWNC and NEWRA come to these meetings, take the time to talk to us and try to be truthful so we can at least give them an honest vote yes or no. I honestly believe we will not have a problem with Donato and he agreed to sign a six month probation period. Let’s take it one step at a time.

    Look at the restaurant owners that have come before the NEWNC and NEWRA and told us what they wanted to do. We approved and before you know it, despite everything they said to us, they did the opposite! Go after the restaurant owners that WE DO have a PROBLEM with and stop letting them get away with what they are doing. What are we doing about it? NOTHING, because they are still operating.

    We have bigger problems than Donato; we have rodents; garbage that is disgusting; late night parties; absentee landlords that don’t care. Now, these are problems. You know the bad restaurant owners. It shouldn’t be hard for you to make a decision if they ever come before the NEWNC or NEWRA as how to vote. Bring up all the bad points so they remember from the last meeting what they told us they WOULDN’T DO and YET THEY DID WANT THEY WANTED TO DO.

    Give Donato a break and go forward with more important issues. That is all I have to say on this matter.

    Anyone that would like to contact me in writing: Marie Simboli C/0 Post-Gazette; 5 Prince St. Boston, Ma. 02113 or

    Marie Simboli
    NEWNC-Vice President

  6. The thing that is being glossed over is that this is a PERMANENT zoning change at this ADDRESS – it is not personal to Donato at all. The bottom line is that if the location is zoned for live entertainment (which it currently is not) it will receive an entertainment license from the City whether the neighbors like it or not. Issues such as “good guys versus bad guys” or “probationary periods” are simply irrelevant. This location is next to historic St. Stephen’s Church, diagonally across from the Prado (with Boston’s most famous historic vista) and in the Freedom Trail Overlay District. Why would we want to change the zoning of such a location for something like live entertainment? Where is our sense of stewardship for the unique neighborhood we live in? I like Donato’s restaurant and I often recommend it. However, the approach of supporting proposals because they are made by our friends has not served our neighborhood well. This is why we have over 90 liquor licenses today – each proposed addition was made by a “good” business person with many friends in the neighborhood. We need to take a broader view of things.

  7. Since Donato’s family has owned that building and business for many, many years and his sons will probably take over the business when Donato decides to retire, I do not think we need to worry about who occupies the building after the zoning change. According to what Donato said at the NEWNC meeting, St. Stephen’s Church does not have a problem with his plans.

    There are 90 alcohol licenses because the CITY granted them. Both NEWNC and NEWRA are ADVISORY groups only. The bottom line is that the CITY can pretty much do decide who gets what based on the law. (or in some instances, I think it depends on the moon being in conjunction with Venus). Witness the case of the late DiMio’s. Given opposition by the abutters and at least NEWNC, the Licensing board granted them a B&W license anyway because they decided there was a "need".

    The North End is a living, breathing neighborhood not a historical museum. I do not see how changing the zoning at Lucia’s will cause the demise of the historical nature of the Freedom Trail.

    Marie is right. We have more important issues to focus our attention on in the NE: rats, trash, filthy streets, drugs, people selling and buying stolen goods, pot holes, ancient gas lines that leak, exploding manhole covers, loud parties,public urination, vandalism, dog crap everywhere, people who let their dogs run off leash and do their thing in tot lots, baseball fields, side walks, parks, alleys, etc, etc, etc.

    The Clean Streets committee is doing a good job on trying to resolve the rats, trash, doggie doo, street cleaning effort. But the people who live here, own businesses here, work here and visit here need to do more to clean up the NE’s act.

  8. If it is true that "we have more important issues to focus our attention on in the NE" one wonders why "Joyce" has taken the time to write at least 5 posts on this web site regarding Donato getting an entertainment license. What’s with that?

  9. Mary: I will post as many times as I want about Donato or any other thing I chose. I am a wee bit tired of people in this neighborhood who are against everything. Interesting that you took the time to see how many times I have posted about this issue. No need to put my name in quotes since I am sure you know who I am.

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