At a hearing last week Boston Licensing Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini said she would again bring two East Boston bar owners back before the board after reports of stabbings, muggings, and fights outside their Bennington Street establishments at closing time.
“We’ve had a number of incidents in that lower Bennington area,” Boston Police Sergeant William Toner told the board.
Sergeant Toner was before the Licensing Board last week to call attention to the most recent incidents outside of Bohemios located at 30 Bennington St. and the Billares Colombia pool hall next door to Bohemios.
On Saturday, March 17, a man was stabbed a little after 2 a.m. on Bennington Street near Marion Street. A little while later another man was beaten and robbed of $1,000 a few blocks away.
Sergeant Toner also testified about a January 10 incident outside Bohemios at closing time. Toner described a scene of utter chaos as police tried to break up a series of fights that were erupting after the bars let out. Even with the arrival of police one suspect sucker-punched a man standing on the sidewalk in front of police, and he was later arrested.
Police have longed complained that the bars on lower Bennington Street did not have a proper control at closing time, which had resulted in ‘multiple stabbings’ and fights after 2 a.m. Police have called that portion of Bennington Street the ‘most violent area’ in Eastie, according to testimony.
District 7 Captain Kelly McCormick said he has been putting extra patrol cars on duty outside the troubled bars at closing time.
“We’ve requested that the Licensing Board roll back of their hours several times,” said McCormick. “The problem is you have a lot of intoxicated people converging on these bars for last call late at night.”
McCormick pointed out that other cities and towns like Chelsea and Revere have 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. closing times.
“These bars on Bennington Street hold 2 a.m. licenses so you have people heading over from bars in Chelsea and Revere where they’ve already been drinking all night, which is a recipe for trouble,” said McCormick. “The problem is these bars in East Boston should not be serving patrons that are already intoxicated.”
The problem is compounded by overly intoxicated patrons leaving these establishments alone in the early morning hours and being victimized by muggers.
McCormick was also of the opinion that due to Eastie being a mainly residential neighborhood there really is no reason to have ‘bars’ that are open all hours of the night. However, McCormick admits that many blue collar workers living in Eastie head into these establishments for some food and couple of drinks after their shift at midnight so it’s a Catch-22.
This isn’t the first time these Bennington Street bars found themselves in hot water with the Licensing Board. Bohemios, the Billares Colombia and La Terraza were all brought before the board to answer questions following several violent incidents that stemmed from their establishments back in 2015.
In 2015 Pulgini gave the three establishments one week to come up with a security plan or face loosing their licenses.
The straw that broke the camels back for the Board was an incident on October 27, 2015, when patrons of La Terrazza allegedly got into a fight with patrons of the other Bennington Street establishments at 2:20 a.m. that resulted in one person being stabbed and seriously injured.
At the time, the owners of all three establishments agreed to meet with police to come up with a security plan, but also complained that they were victims. The owners said troubled started when Chelsea rolled back its last call closing time to 1 a.m. Owners say patrons from Chelsea then travel to Eastie to find one final drink, which ultimately leads to trouble.
However, Pulgini wasn’t buying it and told the owners in 2015, “You’re going to sit down with the police. This isn’t going to happen anymore.”