Thurs., Oct. 20
The Battle for Liquor Licenses
Once upon a time, Massachusetts' legendary "blue laws" put all liquor sales in package stores, let churches decide if bars could open in their communities, and limited the hours and days drinking establishments could pull drafts for thirsty customers. Today, a little has changed, but much has stayed the same. We may be witnessing the return of hallowed happy hour, and liquor sales can now happen on any day of the week barring certain holidays, but bars here still close earlier than other major cities, and certain towns in the Commonwealth remain completely dry.
What's less discussed is liquor licensing - how bars and restaurants can legally proffer beer, wine, mixed drinks and shots in the first place. The licenses are expensive, the approval process long, and trying to get one is often a roll of the dice. Massachusetts caps the number of licenses based on population. But cities like Somerville are now taking matters into their own hands, seeing an incentive to lift the caps and make way for businesses to serve drinks alongside meals.
To talk about the process and of liquor licensing in Massachusetts - the history and the corruption - we're joined by Charlie Perkins, president of the Boston Restaurant Group; Patrick Doyle, executive editor of Boston Magazine; and Somerville Alderman-at-Large Jack Connolly.