Boston will soon allow restaurant patrons to bring their own alcohol to some eateries, after the city’s licensing board voted to move the process forward on Thursday.
The policy applies only to neighborhoods outside of the buzzing city center and its vibrant food scene.
The BYOB ordinance got its start in the City Council, the latest in a raft of alcohol policies aimed at helping smaller restaurants in neighborhoods like Dorchester and Hyde Park get a boost in competitiveness against swankier eateries in the Back Bay or the North End.
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“We’re looking to bring some of the vitality of our awesome restaurant scene into every neighborhood in Boston and do it in a way that puts public safety front and center,” Councilor Michelle Wu said in December.
Now begins talks about specifics for the city’s first-ever “bring your own booze” policy. The three-member licensing board will ponder those questions in the coming weeks and will also need to hold public hearings.
The number of alcohol licenses available in Boston is limited by state legislators, and short supply has made them hot commodities in the city – with some fetching hundreds of thousands in an open market. To address the issue, lawmakers earmarked a big chunk of those licenses that could only be used in those outlying neighborhoods in 2014 as part of an economic development bill.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said he supports the move.
“This is going to help restaurants in the city of Boston,” Walsh told Boston Herald Radio in an interview on Wednesday.
Details which still need to be hammered out include how many bottles of beer or wine customers would be allowed to bring with them and sip during their meals, as well as other mandates on safety and insurance.
But Walsh said in the Herald Radio interview that “restrictions are going to be tight” and that patrons would not be allowed to bring big hauls of alcohol with them into the tiny mom-and-pop spots the ordinance targets.
Massachusetts Restaurant Association CEO Bob Luz, also speaking with the Herald, said his trade group also supports BYOB.