Video: View the presentation, discussion and vote at the meeting by clicking on the play button above.
The North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) voted 6-1 to oppose a new alcohol license application by Carla Gomes for Caffe Lil Italy at 178 Salem Street (corner of Hull St., across from the Old North Church). The vote was held at the April 11, 2011 meeting of the Neighborhood Council at the Nazzaro Center. Carla Gomes is also a long-time resident and owner of two North End restaurants, Terramia and Antico Forno.
Attorney Daniel Toscano presented the application for the small cafe, with 19 seats and 600 square feet in close proximity to the Old North Church. The applicant said the license would be for beer, wine and cordials to be served with the cafe’s sandwich, snack and dessert selections. There is no kitchen or bar in the facility.
Council members and residents at the meeting were very complementary of Ms. Gomes’ business operations and some spoke in favor of the new 7-day C.V. malt and wine license. Highlighted positives included the reputation of Ms. Gomes and the small, neighborhood-like feel of the cafe.
Much of the discussion involved concerns raised by abutters and councilors, including:
- Perceived trading of licenses – This application is for a new license and follows the August 2010 sale of an alcohol license at the same location by the applicant’s brother and previous owner, Stephen Agrippino to Cafe Nuovo, 76 Salem St. New licenses from are relatively inexpensive (~$1,500) compared to purchasing an existing license for transfer that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The applicant purchased the cafe from her brother in November 2010 and said that it did not make financial sense to buy an existing license for Caffe Lil Italy.
- Potential for late-night activity/noise at the location which had been a problem in the past. The license is for an 11:00 p.m. closing time, although the applicant said she would likely close earlier. One councilor said that residents have complained about adding new licenses to the neighborhood.
- Past availability of bathrooms – The applicant said the bathrooms will be open for patrons.
Council members attending the meeting included President Stephen Passacantilli, David Marx, Ryan Kenny, Luciana Burdi, Jorge Mendoza, Anne Devlin Tagliaferro, Donna Freni and Jon Sproul. All councilors voted to oppose the license application except Luciana Burdi for a final tally of 6-1. (The NEWNC President only votes to break a tie.) More information about NEWNC can be found at NEWNCBoston.org.