Tia’s Restaurant & Bar on the Waterfront presented and subsequently withdrew an application for an expanded entertainment license to include live, outdoor and amplified music at this week’s meeting of the Zoning, Licensing & Construction (ZLC) Committee of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA). The withdrawal of the application was in response to concerns raised by neighbors, primarily at Commercial Wharf, who appeared at the meeting in opposition to the request. This is the second time that Tia’s has sought to expand its live entertainment license.
This year marks Tia’s 30th anniversary at the location adjacent to Christopher Columbus Park and the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel at 200 Atlantic Avenue. Owner Lori Lilly presented the application filed with the City of Boston Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. Currently, Tia’s entertainment license is for live amplified vocal and instrumental music inside the premises only, not to exceed 3 performers until 2:00 a.m.
The proposed license request was to expand the entertainment license to include up to 5 live performers, amplified for outside concerts until 9:00 p.m., 7 days per week. Lilly said that she intended to hire A Cappella groups that use amplifiers and music in the genre of James Taylor and Jimmy Buffet.
In addition, Tia’s proposed to install a large outdoor screen to show sporting events. Lilly said that no audio would be used for the big screen and the broadcast would be for patrons and park goers that wanted to keep up with the games.
Lincoln Wharf Resident Bob Skole started off the discussion with “Are you serious?” Ms. Lilly responded that she thought the music would enhance the experience at Christopher Columbus Park. ZLC co-chair David Kubiak responded that “many people would also like to enjoy a quiet park.”
At one point in the meeting, Ms. Lilly proposed only having amplified A Cappella music on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when her clientele is mostly families and tourists. The establishment offered A Cappella music for a while but was shut down by officials because they used amplifiers which are not allowed in the current license. She noted that the City of Boston often sponsors concerts in the park.
Former NEWRA President Mark Paul noted that, “the noise from Tia’s is often deafening. I don’t see families there, just young professionals drinking.”
A Commercial Wharf resident said the City’s concerts are aimed toward the park but that Tia’s outdoor entertainment would be directed in their direction. “There are no hours that this would work,” said the abutter. “Just the noise from the people is awful. You already have radio stations and it is horrible. And let’s be fair, it’s not going to be James Taylor.”
“I don’t want to sit on my balcony and have to look at a jumbotron,” said a Commercial Wharf resident, in response to the proposal for a big screen installation at Tia’s.
One attendee noted that Tia’s is still one of the best “meat markets for the 25 and under crowd.” Ms. Lilly said that on weekends, “it’s not just yuppies.”
I made the point that the existing outdoor speakers can already be heard throughout the park and that Tia’s benefits greatly from having Christopher Columbus Park as its front yard. I also requested they install a smoke pot for patrons that stand outside and throw cigarette butts on the park grounds, often cleaned up by volunteers from Friends of Christopher Columbus Park. The manager, Katie Gorman, said they clean the area regularly and would put out a smoke pot.
Michael Benitto said that “people carrying around boom boxes think they enhance the neighborhood too.”
ZLC meetings are for informational purposes only and no votes are taken or submitted to local officials.
The day after the meeting, Ms. Lilly informed the group that she had listened to the neighbors and respected their opinions. She has withdrawn her application for an expanded live entertainment license.