At last week’s Boston City Council meeting, At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s home rule petition calling for additional liquor licenses to be made available in historically underserved neighborhoods like East Boston passed unanimously and will now go to the State House for consideration.
The petition builds on the success of Pressley’s 2014 home rule petition that was passed by the legislature and resulted in 75 new liquor licenses for the City with several of these ‘neighborhood restricted’ licenses help catapult the success of local restaurants here like Maverick Market Cafe.
This time around, Pressley wants to add 153 new liquor licenses to the neighborhoods of Eastie, Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill.
“The success of the 2014 home rule petition is the blueprint for this,” said Pressley at last week’s City Council meeting. “What the petition calls for is 15 new licenses allocated for each of these neighborhoods with five licenses given out each year over a three year period. Restaurants are the glue for thriving, healthy neighborhoods. I am encouraged, but not yet satisfied by the success of the 2014 legislation that created 75 new liquor licenses for the City of Boston, which helped dozens of new restaurants open and created hundreds of new jobs. It is clear that the city still sees disparities in walkable, sit down amenities, but this home rule, in partnership with Mayor Walsh and the Massachusetts Legislature, is a step towards creating an ecosystem that allows neighborhoods to grow at their own pace.”
Pressley said demand for neighborhood liquor licenses in Boston’s more off the beaten path neighborhoods continues to grow.
“In 2014 the cost for a full liquor license was $400,000,” said Pressley. “That is an incredible cost prohibiting barrier for many small business that want to thrive and grow. I know there is concern that these will devaluate existing liquor licenses but that is why I made it a point to sequence these licenses, five at a time for three years, as to not saturate the market and they are all non-transferable.”
Eastie’s City Councilor Lydia Edwards applauded Pressley petition.
“I could not agree more that this is about equity, small business and economic development in our neighborhoods,” said Edwards. “As you know without a liquor license many restaurants, even with the best food, are not going to be enough to keep customers coming back and the doors open. These licenses have been vital to ability of local family businesses to thrive.”
The home rule also creates a new classification of license called ‘umbrella licenses’ that operate exactly like the license at Logan Airport where all restaurant operators fall under the single license, protecting the small business from competing for a limited number of licenses. The home rule also creates a cool off period for operators who sell transferable license from applying for a new, non-transferable license for the same location in the same calendar year.