BYOB interest goes flat
Excitement surrounding the new BYOB licenses for small city restaurants has fizzled after months of hoopla with only one eatery owner applying for the waiver as others mull the long list of regulations for carry-in beer and wine.
The sole applicant is Christopher Lin, owner of Seven Star Street Bistro in Roslindale, who jumped at the booze break once it went on the books Feb. 6.
“I know right here in Roslindale, off the top of my head, I’m one of the only businesses that would qualify for it. The restaurant across the street doesn’t, because they don’t offer table service,” he said, adding the rules limit BYOB applicants to those restaurants that have no more than 30 tables attended by a wait staff.
Lin said other red tape, including restrictive hours from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., when beer or wine can be carried in, further limit its popularity. He said he’d like to see the scope of the license broadened.
“That’s going to be a tricky one because Boston’s so uptight, to be blunt,” he added.
Tania Vega, owner of the River Cafe Grille in Hyde Park, said she wasn’t even aware that the city was now accepting applications.
“I talked to somebody a long time ago in Hyde Park, and they told me that they were working on it,” she said. She still may apply for the $400 license now, saying the price is “not bad.”
City Council President Michelle Wu championed the new policy, hoping to support small businesses in neighborhoods outside of downtown.
“We see this as a tool that adds another option for entrepreneurship and vibrancy in all of our neighborhoods,” she said.
Wu’s office did not respond to an inquiry about the low number of applications.
The BYOB regulation only applies to smaller restaurants in Allston-Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roslindale, Roxbury and West Roxbury.
In order to operate with a BYOB license, all restaurant employees must also undergo training in alcohol service safety.
“Everybody needs to be trained, just as they would in a full-service, full liquor-licensed restaurant,” said Bob Luz, CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.
Lin said in 2015 he paid $50,000 for a beer and wine license, but it didn’t make sense for his 16-seat establishment. He said he sold the license for a $20,000 profit.
“In our case, a beer and wine license or a costly full liquor license just wasn’t possible for cost and availability, so when BYOB became available we got really excited,” he said.
Mike Dupuy, owner of Streetcar Wine and Beer in Jamaica Plain, said the BYOB rule just needs time to take hold.
“I think all those old Blue Laws and really starting to see their end,” he said. “Hopefully (Boston) will be like any other place in the country” where BYOB is commonplace.New Hub booze license comes with a host of regulations The byob rules come wrapped in a robust list of regulations, including:• the restaurant must not already hold an alcohol license.• it cannot be located in a downtown neighborhood.• must have a capacity of 30 people or fewer.• must offer sit-down service.• byob can only be allowed from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.• all employees must undergo in-person, industry approved alcohol training.• 64 oz. of malt beverage per-person limit.• 750 ml (standard wine bottle) per-person limit— Meghan Ottolini