Councilor Edwards calls for new approach on liquor licenses

Councilor Lydia Edwards filed an order for a hearing late last week to discuss a voluntary buyback of liquor licenses by the City of Boston. 

These newly acquired licenses could then be leased to businesses, which would help the City recuperate some of the cost of purchasing the license. Those licenses would then be converted to non-transferable licenses attached to the address to which they are currently issued. This would provide financial resources to license holders that may need them in order to be able to reopen after the state of emergency ends. It would also give the City an asset that it could use in the future to ensure equity in the distribution of licenses. 

“This conversation is about both helping the current operators stay in business and making sure that we recover from the pandemic in an equitable fashion,” said Councilor Lydia Edwards. “It’s worrying to hear that 40 percent of bars and restaurants may not reopen. These businesses are the backbone of our neighborhoods and our economy. We need to be creative and come up with solutions to help them stay in business. Unfortunately, some of them won’t be able to reopen. If the City owns those licenses, we can ensure that they are distributed equitably and prevent them from all going to large corporations.”

“This is an opportunity to save a generation of restaurants while also lowering the barriers to entry for everyone moving forward,” said restaurant owner Phil Frattaroli.

Councilor Edwards said she intends to hold a hearing on this idea in the near future and welcomes feedback from all stakeholders. There will be an opportunity to provide public comments at the hearing. If you wish to provide additional ideas or suggestions, please e-mail [email protected].

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