Food & Drink Government

City Councilor Pressley Seeks to Remove State Cap on Alcohol Licenses

The Boston City Council’s Committee on Government Operations will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, at 2:00 PM in the Council Chambers on the 5th floor of City Hall. The subject of the hearing is a Home Rule Petition filed by At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley seeking changes to the way alcohol licenses are issued in the City of Boston. Councilor Pressley seeks state legislation that would transfer authority for alcohol licensing from the State to the City; remove the existing state cap on the number of licenses in the City of Boston and give authority to the City for establishing the number of licenses; make licenses returned to the Licensing Board nontransferable; and set restrictions on the reissuance of a license to the same operating location.

According to the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association, the North End/Waterfront neighborhood currently has 100 alcohol licenses, including 90 pouring licenses (restaurants and cafes) and 10 retail sales licenses (liquor stores). By NEWRA’s list, the North End/Waterfront neighborhood has more than six times the number of licenses by population than any other neighborhood and the city as a whole.

Notice of Public Hearing (pdf)

26 Replies to “City Councilor Pressley Seeks to Remove State Cap on Alcohol Licenses

  1. I watched City Councilor Pressley on television one night, and there are parts of the city, like
    Dorchester, Mattapan & other areas that should have liquor licenses, but the North
    End has FAR more than its fair share. I know the Bulfinch Triangle & the No. Station area will
    be requiring those Liq. Lic. because they will be building hotels, etc., but we in the No. End need
    more Liq. Lic. like we need AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE.

  2. “By NEWRA’s list, the North End/Waterfront neighborhood has more than six times the number of licenses by population than any other neighborhood and the city as a whole” and if you use that logic then the North End has 6 times the number of restaurants by population. So what is the problem with that??

    1. Not every restaurant needs a liquor license to survive…how many times do we need to go over this? There is a direct correlation between the number of drunk issues we have in the neighborhood and the number of establishments that serve alcohol in the neighborhood. To think otherwise is whistling passed the graveyard.

  3. What the heck does “whistling passed [sic?] the graveyard” mean?

    Frankly, the inability to get a liquor license in Boston without buying one for over $500k from an existing owner is a HUGE impediment to new business and a HUGE benefit to old business. It’s not fair and it’s not right.

    Establishments that have problems should lose their license for periods of time, be forced to close earlier, or even have their license revoked so that newcomers can apply and actually get a license.

  4. I don’t think that the “number of drunk issues” is only related to restaurants. How can you have a restaurant and not serve alcohol or beer and wine.Most of the tourists and people who frequent these establishments don’t go there to get drunk.I think the drunk issues have got more to do with the bars in the area North Station, Quincy Market and downtown spilling out and some of the parties in the North End than a liquor license issued to a restaurant.

    1. Did Volle Nolle need a license when they were a sandwich shop? Did Il Panino Express? Did Varano’s Deli? Did they need licenses? Pizza shops and sandwich shops do NOT need booze. Why do people not understand that?

      1. Luckily enough we live in a free society where people can decide on their own what their needs are, especially if those needs are something completely innocuous like selling a beer with a sandwich.

      2. No business but a liquor store really needs a liquor license, but many (most?) restaurant owners do want one. Who are you to deny them? Why is a sandwich shop any less deserving than a sit-down restaurant? Surely you don’t believe diners are getting hammered at a place like Volle Nolle and wreaking havoc on the neighborhood.

  5. I agree with Michaeld, this is NOT solely a restaurant issue. Does anyone else find it ironic that people complain about the drinking issues….yet come feast time there are alcohol tents set up, and further more, they set up tables and drink BEFORE the feasts even begin on Thursday night?? I hear more profanities and drunken behavior from these grown men then anyone else. I am all for celebrating, and enjoy the feats, but there is a double standard. These feasts bring in more drunks then any restaurant with a liquor licence.

  6. Michaeld,

    There were a lot of issues in bars down here, but they were covered up. I am sure we are
    getting over flows from No. Station & Faneuil Hall, etc. but I know from a lot of the bartenders
    there were problems & they were covered up, not to detour tourism from the neighborhood.

    We don’t know the half of it. The cameras don’t lie, but most businesses have the cameras
    inside so they can see if the help is robbing them, they don’t want outside cameras revealing
    what is going on outside these bars.

    1. Concerned, you can make the same argument about issues being coverd up at Fenway park,or TD Garden before ,during and after Red Sox,Bruin and Celtic games alcohol isn’t the problem the problem is the people who abuse it and cant handle it.

  7. I maintain that the drunk issue in our neighborhood has virtually nothing to do with the restaurants IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. Virtually all the drunks flow back to the neighborhood between midnight and 4:00AM from elsewhere (clubs, Faneuil Hall bars, etc.) and are a) going home to their dwellings here or b) Coming to Bova’s or Pompeii for drunk eats and troublemaking because they are open after last call. It’s really quite a simple issue in my mind. Everyone keeps attacking the restaurants for our problems in this area, but they have virtually zero culpability in my humble opinion. Here is an idea: Put a drunk driving roadblock and check BALs at both ends of Hanover St. during those hours and see if that helps? It seems to me like a 1-month test period would not be too costly and could really produce some results. I’m not even going to suggest making those two businesses close after 2:00 AM because that somehow seems to be a sacredly held right – yeah it’s the restaurants’ fault!

    1. Another Mark here. I don’t think many people are driving into the North End after 2:00 a.m. since there’s nowhere to park. How, then, would a DUI checkpoint accomplish anything?

  8. Maybe if the City had a few other places that were open late we wouldn’t be the sole attraction for all of the late night drunks? Drunk people to greasy food is like flies to honey. BOVA’s and POMPEII are a huge contributor to the problem.Not the restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.

  9. There seems to be a lot of fingers being pointed as to who is to blame for the drunk issues but I must admit I am surprised [if not shocked] that the BPD seems to be getting a free pass on this issue.The days of the residents protecting the neighborhood are long gone and so are the guys who did police the NE or their like me in their 60s.I question weather the police -police the neighborhood?

    1. They are in the theater district,Quincy Market, North Station…cause there are fights and shootings and stabbings. The North end is not as bad…we only have fighting, stabbings, bolt cutters, syringes as weapons, pipes, bottle throwing, screaming, puking and peeing in doorways.(sarcasm intended)

  10. Hello, Good Morning, Good Night –

    This petition in its most innocent form really has nothing to do with the North End and is radically opposed to expanding liquor licenses in neighborhoods with “FAR more then their share”. The point of bringing it to the NEWRA would be to generate support by listening and incorporating concerns from every corner of Boston. The beautiful culture of this city has only evolved because of historically forward thinking just like this proposed legislation. Please, everyone, voice your concerns regarding inebriated noise, college on college violence and public flatulence, they will not go unheard by this Councilor at Large or her constituents. But please try and grasp that this is not about serving additional tasty libations in already well lubricated, lively areas of the city or even attempting to decrease the value of an existing successful entrepreneur’s hefty capital investment. It’s about providing disadvantage neighborhoods an equal opportunity for economic success.

    As the saying goes: “If you build it, they will come”… But I certainly wouldn’t go to a baseball game to blow my allowance sucking down fat franks with out a chilled barley treat to wash it down…. Picking up on what I’m throwing up?


    Salem St. Resident – Unaffiliated with Councilor Pressley

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