Community Food & Drink

Confusing Vote at NEWRA Meeting on Café Nuovo’s License

It was a confusing sequence of votes at Thursday’s North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) meeting as the advisory group tried to weigh in on the application for 76 Salem St., Cafe Nuovo by Vincent Ferrara.

Vicent Ferrara presents his license application to NEWRA.
Vicent Ferrara presents his license application to NEWRA.

Three ballots were used by NEWRA members. The first was for a motion to support the beer/wine license application with the following conditions: (1) 11:00 pm closing on Sunday-Thursday and midnight on Friday/Saturday, (2) no bar and (3) alcohol service only with food. This motion was questioned by attendees because the application was for a midnight closing hour, 7 days/week, not 11:00 pm closing on weeknights. The motion was withdrawn and votes were not counted.

The second vote was 18-8 supporting an amendment of the application to add the three conditions. Then, a third vote of 18-6 supported the application with the conditions, as amended. (Ed: I could have this a little mixed up. There was a lot of confusion. In my opinion, NEWRA needs to find a better way to handle these votes because many members were frustrated with this convoluted process.)

At the end of the process, President Mark Paul announced that NEWRA’s letter would reflect support for the new license, but only for an 11:00 pm closing from Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Friday/Saturday. The applicant said he would only agree to midnight, 7 days/week. Other NEWRA conditions included serving alcohol only with food and “no bar” to be located at the establishment.

Regarding the closing hours, Ferrara said he originally applied for a 2 am license but compromised to midnight as requested by the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC). “I don’t not think 11 pm versus 12 am makes a big difference,” said Ferrara. “There is no bar and the focus is on food.” He also noted that he has cleaned up a building that was an eyesore and used by vagrants. The café will not serve lunch, just breakfast and dinner. NEWNC supported the application with a midnight closing on the license, 7 days/week.

Tom Schiavoni asked for a clarification on what time a 12:00 am license meant for people to leave the establishment. Victor Brogna answered that a 12:00 am closing means that all patrons have to be out by 12:30 am, a half hour after the time cited on the license.

The request for a new license may be denied if there are no new licenses available under the State’s cap. The Licensing Board already held its hearing and is waiting for NEWRA’s letter before making its decision. At the hearing, the Board indicated they might not be able to award a new license. (Note: The State’s cap is not related to NEWRA’s internal 91 license cap for the North End, which is only advisory in nature.)

Vice-President Stephanie Hogue asked if Ferrara had tried to buy one of the three existing licenses that are not being used in the neighborhood. He said they were asking $70,000 for a transfer which he could not afford.

Jane Mead asked the applicant if he would agree to an 11pm weekday closing time? “I would like the extra hour, though most nights the café will close before that anyway.” replied Ferrara. He further indicated that he would not accept an 11:00 pm closing in the license even if NEWRA votes that way.

The applicant noted that Antico Forno, across the street, has a 1:00 am closing hour in their license. Victor Brogna said that Antico Forno has posted hours on their window indicating a closing of 10:00 pm Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Sanjoy Mahajan said, “Last month, we voted to formalize the 11:00 pm closing hour Sunday through Thursday. We’ve drawn our line. I suggest we all vote for that.”

Jane Mead initially made the first motion to support the application with conditions of an 11:00 pm closing Sunday-Thursday, midnight on Friday/Saturday, no bar, and alcohol must be served with food. Phil Orlandella made a point of order that the vote should be on the application presented. Mary McGee questioned the point of order from a non-member. Jane withdrew her motion and the vote ballots in progress were discarded at the request of the NEWRA executives.

Next, Victor Brogna moved to support or oppose the application as presented (midnight closing, 7 days). Sanjoy Mahajan amended the motion to add conditions (11pm weekday, no bar, served w/food). Brogna said that, “whether the applicant accepts the motion is not relevant.”

Two ballots were then collected. The first resulted in an 18-8 in support of the amendment and the second was 18-6 in support of the application, as amended. (Ed: That is my understanding of what the votes represented, but there was significant confusion at this point of the meeting.)

President Mark Paul announced that NEWRA supports the application, subject to an 11:00 pm closing Sunday through Thursday, midnight on Fridays & Saturdays. In addition, NEWRA conditions its support on “no bar” and serving alcohol only with food.

Background: Vincent Ferrara has applied to the Licensing Board for a new C.V. 7-day Malt and Wine license for a proposed new restaurant on the premises (formerly Paesano’s).  Planned service includes breakfast and dinner, with no bar.  The applicant has revised the application to a midnight closing hour, 7 days.  There are currently 90 alcohol pouring licenses in the neighborhood, by NEWRA’s count.  NEWRA’s Alcohol Licensing Policy includes a cap of 91 pouring licenses.

The location was previously occupied by Paesan’s, La Brace and D’Amore’s. Ferrara’s family was previously involved with La Brace. The old license at the location had a 2:00 am closing hour but a default resulted in a bank auction transferring that license to the Upper Crust on Boylston Street.

Related posts:
NEWNC Supports Cafe Nuevo with Midnight Closing Hour
NEWRA Revises Alcohol Policy to 11pm on Weeknights

8 Replies to “Confusing Vote at NEWRA Meeting on Café Nuovo’s License

  1. Much of the confusion over the vote can be attributable to the erstwhile owner and former editor-in-chief of the Regional Review (and, incidentally, who as a Saugus resident, is neither a North Ender nor NEWRA member) who interrupted the gathering without asking to be recognized by the chairman. His tone of voice could hardly be described as civil, and his rudeness and disrespect crossed the line from zealous reporting to obstruction and disruption. His contempt for the residents association is well documented in his published musings. Undoubtedly, he will spill ink and target NEWRA in the coming week(s) as he promised upon exiting the meeting.

  2. I wasn't there but I heard about the confusion. It sounds like NEWRA was making up their own rules. This business helps fix up that location so I think its good for the neighborhood.

  3. what a joke….like 95% of the places in the neighborhood, they aren't going to be packed at 11pm on a weeknight, but if 5-10 people would like to have a late dinner and a drink, they won't be able to. Thank you for regulating when I'm allowed to eat/drink….and yes, I live in the neighborhood…on Stillman.

  4. Bosguy. FYI The City of Boston regulates when, where, and what time you can eat and drink. The City of Boston Licensing Board issues the licenses. NEWRA and NEWNC are advisory boards only. BTW, there are plenty of places in the North End where you can get something to eat and drink at 11 PM.

  5. I realize that, but it was the NEWRA that instituted this blanket 11pm closing recommendation. So you're in the north end at 10pm and looking for a nice meal and a couple drinks…and it's wednesday. Where do you go, Cafe Nuovo where you have an hour to get your meal in, or another place that can stay open until 12. By making them close at 11, you're putting limitations on a new business that is trying to establish itself. In this economy, we should be thankful the owner renovated the building and removed an abandoned eyesore from the neighborhood, not making things more difficult for him.

  6. My comment is to bosguy. I like to ask you how long have you lived in the North End? Or do you live in the North End. It is people like you that we should have later hours so you can eat either at 10 or 11 pm. When you have lived in the North End for over 50 years and listen to the noise at 1:00 or 3 am and you can't sleep do you still want the restaurant opened later. This guy must be a friend of yours since you feel the neighborhood is making it difficult for him. I respect Antico Forno for the hours that Carla has and if more restaurant owners kept the same hours the North End Residents and the NEWNC and NEWRA we wouldn't have all these problems. He cleaned up the place because he bought the business and he didn't want all this trash around the area, good for him but he didn't do it for the North End residents. We are trying to keep the hours Monday-Thursday until 11 pm and Friday and Saturday until 12 PM respect goes a long way it would have been nice to agree with both associations. Shame on the NEWNC to allow the 12 midnight closing everynight now when he does close and all his customers leave it will be 12:30 or 1 am. Concerned residents

  7. As far as all the confusion at the NEWRA. Ferrara came in front of the Board to stay open 7 nights a week until 12 midnight. The vote should have been taken to either support his midnight closing or oppose it (for the reason of good neighborhood policy closing time monday-thursday until 11 pm and friday -saturday until 12 midnight) there was so much confusion you didn't know what you where voting for. As far as Phil from the Regional Review he has the right to cast his opinion whether or not he is a member. You don't have to be a member to state your opinion, you just can't vote. Don't blame others for the mistake that the NEWRA made from the beginning of the motion. Even Freeway was confused and he is a dog and attends all these meetings.

  8. I never understand the complaints about noise. Many North End residents need to realize that they live in one of the largest and most popular cities in the U.S. Noise should be expected late into the night if you live in a large, metropolitan city. If you can't deal with the noise then move to the suburbs for some peace and quiet.

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