BYOB Licenses Approved by License Board, Would Apply to Charlestown

By Seth Daniel

Council President Michelle Wu hailed a decision by the Boston License Board late last week in finally approving regulations that would allow small restaurants outside of the downtown neighborhoods to apply for a ‘Bring Your Own Bottle’ license.

Wu proposed the measure more than a year ago, patterning it off of other successful BYOB regulations in places like Winthrop, and with an eye to helping small business restaurant owners who cannot get, or are not yet ready for, a full liquor license or beer and wine license. In December 2015, the City Council passed Wu’s recommendation and Mayor Martin Walsh signed the ordinance. Since that time, the License Board has been reviewing and reviewing regulations to make it palatable.

The measure is now in effect after a vote on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

“Today’s vote brings us one big step closer to implementing BYOB in Boston,” said Wu on Jan. 18. “Not only will BYOB give small business owners another tool to boost economic activity, but it will also provide consumers with more dining out options in our neighborhoods. The result will be a more vibrant restaurant scene across the whole city.”

Previous regulations prohibited patrons from bringing alcoholic beverages for their own consumption onto licensed premises. The new rules permit restaurants outside downtown neighborhoods with a capacity of 30 or less, and they must offer table service by wait staff. It would apply to restaurants in Charlestown that do not have a liquor license or a beer and wine license. The fee for the license annually would be $400.

The program is prohibited from restaurants in downtown, North End, South End, Bay Village, Chinatown, Seaport, West End, Beacon Hill and Back Bay.

The following rules would apply to those who have a BYOB license:

  • Patrons can only bring beer and wine, no liquor or distilled spirits.
  • Beer can only be in containers 16 oz. or less and one may not bring more than 64 oz. total per person.
  • Wine can only be brought in 750 mL bottles per person, a standard win bottle.
  • Patrons are not allowed to leave and bring back more alcohol.
  • Licensees can operate BYOB between 5 and 11 p.m.
  • Licensees cannot charge a “cork fee” or surcharge for permitting BYOB. That was a major point of contention in the in pounding out the regulations over the last year. Many restaurants wanted to be able to charge a fee to cover the use of glassware and wait staff. In the end, that was not approved.
  • Licensees are allowed to discard or empty any abandoned alcoholic beverage containers.

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