Boston’s City Council voted Wednesday in favor of leting diners BYOB at some small restaurants in the city, according to UniversalHub.
Next, the city’s licensing board is tasked with setting specific regulations.
Supporters say the change would be a boon for the underdogs in Boston’s booming dining-out scene: tiny restaurants in outlying neighborhoods without the capital or fridge space to buy pricey liquor licenses and stock up on alcohol.
“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, who co-sponsoring the ordinance along with her colleague Stephen Murphy, said at a meeting earlier this month.
The ordinance would allow eateries to get permits to offer BYOB only if they do not already have a liquor license, if they have a wait staff (so no lunch counters or fast-food joints) and are small (no more than 30 seats). It would also require that the restaurants buy liability insurance and that servers take alcohol training courses.
Neighborhoods in city core – for example the North End and Beacon Hill – would not be eligible.
Wu said at a previous meeting she anticipated permits would cost around $300. That’s far shy of the going rate for alcohol licenses, which start at $3,000 and can fetch as much as $400,000 on a competitive open market.
At least one Boston restaurant lawyer told Metro this month he was opposed to the idea and called on the city to licensing the way it is.
“Allowing this sort of activity to compete against people who have purchased their licenses seems to be an erosion of a well-set-up and well-functioning regulatory scheme,” said John Connell, who has represented restaurants, alcohol producers and distributors.
City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, meanwhile, argued instead for more liquor licenses in the city for outlying neighborhoods, without needing the blessing of the Legislature. She led the charge last year that led to 60 licenses being earmarked for seven neighborhoods, among them Mattapan and Hyde Park.
Pressley voted in favor of the BYOB proposal at Wednesday’s meeting, UniversalHub reported.