The Boston Licensing Board ruled this morning that two North End restaurants can extend their alcohol serving hours to 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The request is a half-hour longer than previously allowed, but not to the 1:00 a.m. that both restaurants had requested.
The Board also added a condition that accordion-style windows are required to be closed at midnight. As with all licenses, patrons can stay and finish their drinks until a half-hour beyond the alcohol serving hour in the license. Thus, the 12:30 a.m. closing time indicates the time after which alcohol cannot be served, but customers can stay in the restaurant until 1:00 a.m.
Tresca Restaurant at 227-237 Hanover Street had applied for a 1:00 a.m. closing hour, 7 days a week. Their license previously allowed them to pour alcohol until 12:00 a.m. midnight, 7 days.
Vinoteca di Monica (Monica’s Restaurant) at 143-145 Richmond St. had similarly applied for a 1:00 a.m. closing, 7 days a week. Previously, Monica’s license was 11:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 12:00 a.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
According to Jean Lorzio, Executive Secretary of the Licensing Board, there is no change to the existing hours on Sunday through Wednesday.
In advisory votes, the Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) voted to support the 1:00 a.m. application by Tresca Restaurant while the Residents’ Association (NEWRA) voted to oppose it. For Monica’s, the Neighborhood Council also voted to support while the Residents’ Association has yet to weigh in on the application.
In this ruling, the Licensing Board could be setting a precedent given an expectation of similar extension requests from other North End restaurants. If that is the case, 12:30 a.m., Thursday/Friday/Saturday, appears to be the new standard in the North End for new applications. With this ruling the Board also appears to introduce Thursdays as an evening deserving a later closing hour, similar to Friday and Saturday. Neither the Licensing Board nor the neighborhood groups have ever asked for closing hours on existing licenses to be rolled back, 40 of which already extend to 1:00 a.m. or later.
Of note, the neighborhood groups have recently been notified of an extension request by the Living Room at 101 Atlantic Avenue to extend its closing hour from 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Breaking with past practice, the Licensing Board did not defer their ruling until NEWRA had voted on Monica’s application. Although NEWRA was widely expected to oppose the request similar to its Tresca’s vote, the only neighborhood vote on Monica’s was from the Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) which voted in support. Given the Licensing Board ruling, it is unclear if NEWRA will vote on the Monica’s license at its February 10th meeting.
At the hearing, there was an obvious difference of opinion between the two sitting members of the Licensing Board. Suzanne Ianella indicated that she was in favor of granting the 1:00 a.m. closing hours, but decided to compromise with Michael Connolly, the other board member, who reportedly said they were not opening the flood-gates. The third slot remains empty, awaiting a Governor’s appointment, since the retirement of Chairman Daniel Pokaksi.