Owners of popular Hub bars voice opposition to ‘happy hour’ in Massachusetts

Looks like "happy hour" will not be returning to Massachusetts.
NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

It appears it’s still going to be a while before you’re able to get discount “happy hour” drinks in Massachusetts.

Owners and representatives from dozens of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants voiced their strong opposition to easing restrictions on the state’s “happy hour” regulations.

“Happy hour only encourages over consumption,” said Austin O’Connor, head of The Briar Group, which operates Ned Devine’s, The Green Briar, Anthem Kitchen and Bar, The Harp and other establishments. “Happy hour is absolutely a bad thing for our industry.”

The comments were made during an Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission hearing in Boston today, which sought input on a possible change to the state’s “happy hour” regulations to prevent “unfair competition” from future casinos. The recently passed expanded gambling bill allows casinos to give free drinks to certain patrons, according to the State House News Service.

The commission is expected to file recommendations on the matter by the end of January.

Besides monitoring over consumption, the establishment owners cited concerns over openings by inexperienced restaurateurs, increases in drunken driving and being forced to compete against thousands of establishments versus a casino.

If “happy hour” regulations are eased, some owners said they would be forced to offer discounted drink to compete and it would be a “race to the bottom” in the industry.

“We make investments in our business … in some cases millions of dollars to put together a great venue, great food, great service and a nice atmosphere,” said Douglas Bacon, president of the Red Paint Hospitality Group that operates establishments including the White Horse Tavern and Avenue Bar & Grill in Allston and The Corner Tavern in the Back Bay. “If happy hours are allowed to come back to Massachusetts, an inexperienced operator who is under capitalized can take a former shoe store, set up a bar and start selling $2 drinks and undercut everyone else in the neighborhood.”

Currently, liquor regulations don’t allow for free drinks or a variation in drink prices during a day or in a calendar week.

Representatives from the Massachusetts Restaurant Association also expressed their opposition to easing the restrictions.

State Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the ABCC, wouldn’t say yesterday where he stood on the issue, but did say he had “overarching concerns about public safety.”

The commission held its fourth hearing today, which was its only one in Boston. A commissioner said she has only heard one person speak in favor of easing the restrictions for a true “happy hour.”

During today’s hearing, one group did speak up in support of easing the restrictions, but in a limited way.

Vincent Errichetti, representing the Restaurant and Business Alliance that is overseen by the operators of the Phantom Gourmet, said the group supports limiting variations in drink prices to only two days per week versus seven.

“It’s a simple, logical and safe change in policy,” he said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.