John Hauck, owner of The Living Room at 101-107 Atlantic Ave., encountered resident opposition last night in response to his proposals for a 2:00 a.m. closing and DJ on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The presentation was made at the monthly Zoning, Licensing & Construction Committee meeting of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association. This committee meeting is for informational purposes only. There are questions and comments, but no votes are taken. The Living Room is a restaurant, bar and lounge located on the corner of Atlantic Ave., Richmond Street and Commercial Street. Attorney Overson, representing The Living Room said they have not formally filed the applications yet because they want to get feedback on the proposals.
The Living Room owner presented two separate requests:
1. Amendment to the existing All-Alcohol Beverages License to extend the closing hour from 1:00 AM to 2:00 AM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only, and for Private Events (closed to the public). The owner may limit the special events not to exceed two per month.
2. Amendment to the existing entertainment license to add a disc jockey on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and for Private Events. The owner may limit the special events not to exceed two per month.
“We are responding to substantial demand from our patrons, including many that live in the neighborhood, to have a later closing hour,” said Mr. Hauck. He noted that patrons often leave The Living Room to finish their evenings at the Sail Loft on Atlantic Ave. and the Four Winds on Commercial St., both of which have a 2:00 a.m. closing time in their alcohol licenses.
The current entertainment license at The Living Room includes live instrumental and vocal units, but a disc jockey is allowed only for private events. Mr. Hauck says that technology has changed and in order to take music requests or connect a customer iPod, a disc jockey provision is needed on the license. The DJ addition would not necessarily be a separate sound apparatus and would most likely use the existing background music system.
David Kubiak, co-Chair of the ZLC Committee, said The Living Room’s last attempt to extend their closing hour a few years ago was met with substantial community resistance. “Are there mitigating circumstances now that did not exist then?” asked Kubiak. “Otherwise, I do not see any chance whatsoever for you to gain support from the community or public officials.” Kubiak continued, “People are fed up with late night noise, part of which is caused by establishments closing at late hours. Your proposal would have patrons leaving as late as 2:30 a.m.”
Earlier this month, the Boston Licensing Board approved a half-hour closing hour extension to 12:30 p.m. for Vinoteca di Monica, also on Richmond Street, and Tresca on Hanover Street. Both restaurants had requested an extension to 1:00 a.m. In addition, Councilor Sal LaMattina has recently stated his opposition to 2:00 a.m. closing hours in the North End.
Residents from the Prince Building at 63 Atlantic Ave. spoke in opposition to the request, saying they often hear late night noise from patrons leaving nearby watering holes. “We have to close our windows in the summer on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” said one resident. “It seems that year after year, the situation degenerates. I plead with the board that we reverse this so we can maintain a degree of quiet and sanity.”
Anne Pistorio from N. Margin St. said, “We live in a culture where the only way to profit is to make noise. It is destroying our health and cannot continue.”
“Are you a night club?” asked Victor Brogna. The owner responded, “We are a restaurant, bar and lounge. We are different from a night club because we don’t charge a cover, do not offer bottle service and have no specific dress code.” Mr. Haught said there is a 10×10 dance area and they serve meals until midnight. He noted there are two small speakers located outside for the patio dining area.
The Living Room has been operating on Atlantic Ave. since 1998. Several years ago, Mr. Hauck negotiated a “good neighbor” agreement with residents in the area. The agreement included an extension to the current 1:00 a.m. closing hour from 12:00 a.m. He said there have been no complaints. Attorney Overson noted the installation of a security system has also helped resolve nearby criminal activity investigations.
“We have no problems with our neighbors. If our windows are open and they hear noise, they call us and we close them,” said Mr. Haught. He added that they are also talking to the same group of abutters that previously negotiated the “good neighbor” agreement.
In answer to a question from the committee regarding police or licensing-related incidents, Mr. Hauck said there have been two significant incidents over the years. The first incident was a disturbance by an unruly patron and the other was caused by valet parking on the sidewalk area.
It was unclear if and when the owner will formally submit these requests as applications to the Boston Licensing Board and the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. Attorney Overson indicated they would like to appear at the next Residents’ Association meeting on Thursday, March 10th and the Neighborhood Council on Monday, March 14th.
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