In early January 2016, we learned that the State Legislature had amended the Economic Development Bill originally passed in August 2014, which allowed the City of Boston to issue 75 new liquor licenses over the next 3 years (starting in 2014, 25 each year).
60 of these licenses (20 each year) were/are reserved for "restricted" neighborhoods: Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roxbury and Main Street Districts as designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (“BRA”). See The Department of Neighborhood Development's map of Main Streets Districts here. Each of these licenses, once issued, cannot be transferred to a different neighborhood or area in which it was originally issued and cannot be transferred to any other person or entity.
The remaining 15 licenses (or 5 each year) were originally intended to be full-value, unrestricted all alcoholic beverage licenses; however, those licenses had not previously been issued in the 2014 and 2015 cycles due to inconsistencies in the legislation which still needed to be addressed.
Recognizing the inconsistency in the language of the law, the legislature ultimately revisited and amended the law in late 2015, effectually "releasing" the 10 full-value, unrestricted all-alcoholic beverages licenses that were originally intended to have been released in 2014 and 2015.
So began the mad dash to the Licensing Board for the City of Boston as word quickly traveled during the first few days of the new year. Dozens of businesses, both existing and new, lined up at a chance to get a hold of one of these $400,000 assets for free.
As many of you know, the Licensing Board holds transactional hearings on Wednesday mornings. Over several weeks, the Board heard many applicants make their case for "public need" (a legal standard I'll explain in an upcoming post). Ultimately, the Board approved the last of the 10 lucky applicants yesterday. Here's where they went:
Scorpion Bar & The Grand by Big Night Entertainment Group: Set to open in 2017, this will be a 20,000sf Mexican restaurant, nightclub and event space in the new Seaport Square development spanning 3 floors.
Earl's Kitchen + Bar. Slated to open in the Prudential Center in late 2016, Earl's is a Canadian company which has been setting up shop in the US over the past few years. You may be familiar with their only other MA location at Assembly Row in Somerville.
Piattini. Open since 2001, a Newbury St. restaurant with an existing beer & wine license.
Fuji @ Ink Block - a Japanese inspired restaurant with sister locations throughout Boston
all existing Italian restaurants with previous beer & wine licenses.
Antonio's: located on Cambridge St. for the past 20 years, an Italian restaurant with an existing beer & wine license.
Al-Wadi - an existing Lebanese restaurant located on VFW Parkway, and previous holder of a beer & wine license.