Video: March 14, 2013 meeting of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association considering the request of Billy Tse Restaurant, 240 Commercial St. for outdoor sidewalk seating.
In a very close vote of 18-19, NEWRA is opposing outdoor sidewalk seating at Billy Tse Restaurant, 240 Commercial Street. In order to use the public sidewalk, the restaurant is applying to the Public Improvement Commission for 10 tables and 20 seats to offer food and drinks outside. The outdoor seating would be seasonal from April 1st through October 31st.
Because it will be serving alcohol, the restaurant will also seek an amendment to its current all-alcohol beverage license for the additional seating. A Licensing Board hearing is currently scheduled for March 20, 2013.
The outdoor seating requires 6 feet of the sidewalk, leaving the public walking area at 4 feet wide. The office building entrance would cause a gap between the seating, resulting in 2 separate patio areas. One part would be in front of the sushi part of the restaurant while the other would be on the bar side.
At the meeting, the issue of closing hours for the outdoor patio service was questioned. The existing alcohol license allows for a midnight closing, 7 days per week. NEWRA’s V.P. Victor Brogna asked city officials about a citywide patio closing hour policy and was told that each application is considered on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, he also learned there is no city requirement to serve food with alcohol in outdoor seating areas. One member raised the outdoor closing hour at the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel where the closing hour was based on neighborhood input and recently extended from 10pm to 11pm.
Residents generally had positive things to say about the restaurant and the good standing of its owner, Billy Tse, who was present at the meeting. Some members raised the ongoing issues of noise and continually adding more alcohol serving seats to the neighborhood, currently nearly 9,000.
After a vote was called, the results were announced as 18 in support and 19 in opposition. NEWRA’s policy is to go with the majority, so the group will write a letter opposing the application as presented.
In contrast, the Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) voted unanimously in favor of the outdoor seating request. NEWNC and NEWRA are advisory to city officials. The Licensing Board and Public Improvement Commission will make the final determination.