Food & Drink

NEWRA Opposes Tresca Restaurant’s Closing Hour Extension to 1:00 a.m.

Tresca Restaurant discussion at NEWRA meeting. Standing to the left is Sgt. Thomas Lema and to the right is Attorney Daniel Toscano. Sitting at the center table are NEWRA’s officers. (Photo by Matt Conti)
Tresca Restaurant discussion at NEWRA meeting. Standing to the left is Sgt. Thomas Lema and to the right is Attorney Daniel Toscano. Sitting at the center table are NEWRA’s officers. (Photo by Matt Conti)

In a vote of 19 – 10, the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) opposed the application by Tresca Restaurant to extend the closing hours on its all-alcohol license from midnight to 1:00 a.m., 7 days. Tresca is located at 227-237 Hanover Street and received one of the 45 new licenses made available to the City of Boston by an act of the State Legislature signed by the Governor in December 2006. NEWRA’s vote was taken at their January 18, 2011 meeting.

The NEWRA vote contrasts with that of the Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), which voted unanimously last month to support the closing hour extension. (See Tresca Receives Unanimous Support for 1:00 a.m. Closing Hours by NEWNC.)

At Tuesday’s NEWRA meeting, co-owner Harvey Wilk and Attorney Daniel Toscano represented Tresca. The restaurant has 120 seats with 75 on the second floor, 25 downstairs, 10 at the bar and another 10 on hi-tops in the bar area. The upscale establishment emphasizes wine and fine Italian dining with an average check of $75-$100 per person. Massimino Tiberi has managed the operation since inception.

Attorney Toscano explained that Tresca’s owners accepted a midnight closing when they first received the license in 2006 and now want to expand their clientele. Co-owner and hockey legend, Ray Bourke, actively promotes the restaurant and they would like to accommodate patrons coming after sporting events. The average dining experience takes 1.5 – 2.0 hours.

Sergeant Thomas Lema from the Boston Police District A-1 attended the NEWRA meeting and said they have not had any incidents with Tresca other than a valet problem (stolen property) a few years ago that involved a separate company. Sgt. Lema said that the North End has mostly 11:00 p.m. and midnight closing hours with some 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. licenses. “If there were a lot of negatives, we would voice it to the group,” said Sgt. Lema. “We go along with the final decision and support the neighborhood.”

David Kubiak, NEWRA’s co-chair of Zoning and Licensing, said he counted 40 establishments in the North End / Waterfront that can serve alcohol to 1:00 a.m. or later. “The Licensing Board uses the standard of public need,” said Kubiak. “We choose to live in a downtown neighborhood and recognize there is a broader city need. The flip side is neighborhood impact. With 40 establishments serving to 1:00 a.m. or later, we have more than any other neighborhood. And, there are many more coming for extensions. NEWNC says they look at each individual restaurant. I can say that most of the 90 in the North End are good businesses and good neighbors. The question is whether we want to be a 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. neighborhood?”

Charter Street resident, Bart Higgins, thought the organization should make uniform decisions on closing hours. “I am going to vote against this,” said Higgins, “but I think we need to draw a breath and develop a method to deal with neighborhood noise control. It should go beyond just slinging mud.”

NEWRA President Stephanie Hogue, clarified that NEWRA modified and formalized its policy last year regarding alcohol licensing hours. (See NEWRA’s website for a copy.) NEWRA’s policy is to support hours of 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday. NEWRA’s policy applies only to new licenses, transfers from out of the neighborhood and extension requests.

Past NEWRA President, Mark Paul said, “If you have a 1:00 a.m. closing, customers don’t have to leave until 1:30 a.m so we end up with people walking through our neighborhood late at night and the noise reverberates. It’s not a question of the restaurant’s reputation, but the noise on the streets.” Referring to the neighborhood of North Beach in San Franscisco, Paul continued, “They once had a great balance of restaurants and bars, but it became an entertainment district and the residents left. We have to be consistent with our policy. We never hear about the value to the neighborhood. I am going to vote against it.”

Attorney Toscano responded, “Tresca is a great neighborhood place that caters to 40-something and older couples like me and for neighborhood events such as wedding receptions.” Toscano quoted NEWNC President Stephen Passacantilli, “This is a restaurant, not a bar.” He also noted that people are eating later.

Using a list of alcohol licenses in the zip codes of 02109 and 02110, Toscano said there are 25 all-alcohol licenses and over 70% of them have post-midnight closing hours.

“Ray Bourke and Tresca have been terrific supporters of the neighborhood,” continued Toscano. “They give to all the neighborhood charities and serve the older residents in the neighborhood. I hope you can support a high class restaurant as an exception to your policy.”

NEWRA uses a secret ballot membership voting system and it was announced that 19 members opposed the closing hour extension and 10 supported it. NEWRA will write an advisory letter to the Boston Licensing Board opposing the application.

Note: All NEWNC and NEWRA votes are advisory to city authorities which make the final decisions.