The War on Boston Liquor Licenses

Boston is well established as a major, thriving city with attractions in both business and social scenes. To increase the vitality of Boston after dark, state and local politicians are making efforts to ease the liquor license process and let more people discover #LateNightBos.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has made strides in improving Boston’s nightlife and now Governor Deval Patrick is aiding the process. Massachusetts has a very strict and very old cap on liquor licenses and Gov. Patrick is reexamining this outdated law.

The restriction on liquor licenses has caused plenty of controversy as restaurants have struggled to survive and politicians have become involved in corrupt ways. When all of the liquor licenses have been allotted for a region, restaurant and bar owners have to buy licenses from other owners or turn to the state to try to obtain another permit. Businesses then become entangled in local economic and political problems stemming from a state law that many believe should be handled by each city.

Boston's bar owners are looking at a brighter future. Photo courtesy of Gavel Media.

Technomic, a leading food industry-consulting firm, reports that alcoholic beverages account for 20% of sales at restaurants. While not crucial for survival, liquor licenses have a serious impact on the first phases of owning a bar or restaurant, reports Slate.

Many mayors have been pleased with the steps Governor Patrick has taken and would like to see a change to the existing law. In fact, this proposed change would pair well with Mayor Walsh’s plan to extend restaurant and bar hours in Boston. Walsh has gone to many lengths to find effective ways to make Boston a younger and more attractive city; he has focused on improving Boston’s nightlife. With late night T service, later closing times and now a restructure of the liquor licensing system, residents can expect a change in the atmosphere of the city.

Certainly the economic benefits have been outlined but lights will be on later as residents, travelers and college students find ways to enjoy what Boston nightlife has to offer.

Originally from New Jersey, welcoming Boston as my second home. I let soccer dictate my schedule. I cover events at Boston College and city news. Drop me a line or your two cents.