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Temporary shortage of table-service whisky in Jamaica Plain as the Haven moves to get a liquor license for its new, larger space in the Brewery

The owner of the Haven in Hyde Square, the state's only Scottish restaurant, announced today he's stopped serving liquor there in the hopes of getting a license for the larger space he and the owner of Bella Luna plan to open in June in the Brewery complex.

Haven owner Jason Waddleton had hoped to serve liquor at both locations. But after unsuccessfully applying twice for a new liquor license for the Brewery location, he gave up and has asked the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to let him transfer his Hyde Square license to the Brewery. Waddleton was unsuccessful not because of any issues with his proposal but because the state legislature limits the number of liquor licenses Boston can issue, none were available in a drawer at City Hall and the only way for him to get one would be to spend $400,000 or so for one on the open market.

On the Haven Facebook page, Waddleton wrote:

As of today, we are no longer serving any alcohol at 2 Perkins Street.

For the next month, we are operating on a takeout and delivery model and we are STILL OPEN FOR DINE-IN (without alcohol).

Please support our team during this time of transformation.

As many of you know, there have been big things afoot for The Haven's next chapter for some time. Stay tuned for weekly updates from me on our anticipated early June opening of The Haven at the Brewery!

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Comments

Someone on Beacon Hill needs to grow a pair, stand up to the special interests, and end this insanity.

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Voting closed 42

Maybe he could have dipped into the 2 million dollar tax free grant that Bella Luna (and now, by connection, the Haven) got from the government as part of the Restaurant Recovery Fund to buy that license? I mean, the fund was supposed to go to make up for net losses during 2020. And since Bella Luna just closed their doors and laid off their entire staff, their net loss was huge compared to any restaurant who tried to stay open, hence the huge payout. Remember that Bella Luna was just going to close down? But they couldn't get RRF funds without having an operating space, so they partnered with The Haven to "reopen". What else are they going to do with that money, if not buy a liquor license? It's not like the space needs 2 million in renovations.

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Voting closed 27

Did Bella Luna sell their liquor license when they closed? If not, why do they need a new one for opening up with The Haven? Or were all those beers & cocktails served along with pizza from an actual speakeasy? I presume Adam knows the answer here about the status of the original liquor license for Bella Luna?

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Voting closed 9

I'm pretty sure they sold it off, similar to the way Doyle's sold off their license (so when the new Brassica at Doyle's opens, they'll need to find a new license).

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Voting closed 14

is Brassica moving to the old Doyle's space?

That restaurant, with its ridiculously talented chefs, is one of my absolute favorites in the city: their food is absurdly inventive and eclectic and delicious. I have done their tasting menu ("The Ride") a couple of times recently, and it is just gobsmacking, and a bargain to boot.

I recommend the wine pairing with it, three giant, well-chosen pours, a steal. It also has a serious, clever cocktail program: you should start with one of their originals.

On top of that, the staff is uncommonly charming and enthusiastic. It deserves a bigger space and wider acclaim. It is my current ideal of an indie restaurant in Boston: passion, technical precision, around-the-world inspiration, no pretention, attractive prices. Punk rockers with chops.

If you're any kind of a food nerd and haven't been, go as soon as you can. It is the shit.

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Voting closed 17

a pleasure to read your recommendations.

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Voting closed 9

If and when the Doyle’s housing/retail project is built, the plan is to relocate Brassica there.

And, I agree, that restaurant is awesome!

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Voting closed 7

And not just because a friend waits tables there. The bartender is an amazingly fun person to talk to--she makes all the infusions in-house, and will happily talk your ear off about it if you ask. She's also that rarest of birds, a bartender who cares just as much about ingredients that aren't 0 proof. Never had a better mocktail anywhere in the city than at Brassica. Oh, and the food is amazing and the menu is ever-changing and the wine menu kicks ass and they treat their staff well and it's unbelievably reasonably-priced.

To answer your question: yes, they're moving into the former Doyle's space, but that's 2+ years down the road, as I think the plan is to demolish the building there and rebuild as 3-4 stories of mixed-use development, with the first floor dedicated to restaurant space. That location is basically a Superfund site, so I'm guessing the build-out is going to be slow. Brassica is planning to expand, not move, and last I heard they're already starting to plan for how to expand the team enough to run two locations without losing any of the magic.

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Voting closed 6

Yes. I will never forget. The Owner of BL still sits on the BPDA board and works for the President of a Casino too! Not sitting depressed over the closing of BL nor swimming in debt. This set up was a total sham. I won't be eating there. And Haven in Hyde Square will go under soon enough too. Pathetic.

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Voting closed 2

It’s like taxi medallions — government-created artificial scarcity is a mess, resulting in a net transfer of value from taxi drivers and passengers, bar owners and patrons, to the banks who finance the loans required to purchase a license. It is completely, 100% parasitic: a significant cost imposed on the system that creates absolutely no value.

The problem is, it’s hard to see our way out of it in some way that doesn’t absolutely screw the taxi driver or bar owner who has half a million bucks invested in their license.

As a taxpayer I’m almost ready to say “let’s buy them back,” but I don’t want to hand a windfall to the speculators who hold 100 taxi medallions or the corporate groups who hold dozens of liquor licenses.

With the taxi racket, Uber and Lyft did some of the dirty work for us, but I don’t see any analogous way with liquor licenses.

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Voting closed 25

With Uber/Lyft the key thing was that the government decided to look the other way and let disruptive startups steamroll the whole regulatory scheme that had been set up with taxi medallions. With alcohol, MA is distinctive nationwide in its inability to look the other way -- I have never been somewhere where regulations are enforced more strictly. I don't think there's a backdoor way of doing this like there was with the taxis -- that was a perfect storm with the near universal hatred of the old taxi industry as the main ingredient.

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Voting closed 14

I noticed that commercials are starting that Uber/Lyft drivers need to stay independent contractors.

No no no no.

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Voting closed 10

$400,000 to buy a liquor license?? This is maddening. Let Boston have fun and be able to support independent restaurants!

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Voting closed 31

Pretty much everyone agrees with you. Now suggest a way out of this mess that doesn’t screw people.

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Voting closed 8

Gotta say sorry and rip the bandaid off. Only has to happen once.

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Voting closed 29

I’d support ripping the band-aid off, along with relief to the small operator who legitimately owns only one license, maybe two, allowing no shell-company common-ownership monkey business that makes a large conglomerate look like a lot of little businesses.

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Voting closed 20

You create a pool of licenses that can only be used outside of Boston Proper, however one defines that (like, say, Downtown, Back Bay, North End, the Seaport part of South Boston), so people in outer neighborhoods can actually open restaurants with licenses that don't cost mid-six-figures but people who have already invested large amounts in their licenses still have a market to sell them in.

The city already has a bunch of licenses like this, which have to be turned back into the city when the establishments that hold them close up, and which can then be doled out to newer restaurants. The issue is, as we see here, they don't have enough (also, they're not free, there's some annual fee for a license based on the number of chairs a place has) and that the legislature has refused several requests from the city in recent years to add more of them.

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Voting closed 19

Lets vote this system away.

It's archaic, prohibitive and without reason.

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Voting closed 7

gives larger payouts to recent buyers of licenses under the artificial-scarcity theme, and smaller payouts scaling to zero for license holders that have had longer to recoup their investment?

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Voting closed 22

Do a slow ramp-up of new available licenses for the next several years. As we've seen with housing, when the supply-demand market is SO totally and completely out of whack, it can take a long time for prices to stabilize even with a concentrated effort to add more supply. Allow the city to issue 100 more licenses every year for X amount of years, with the caveat that these new licenses cannot be traded around on the open market and must be returned to the city if the place closes - you know, the way they work everywhere else. Places that have invested a half million dollars then have X amount of years to resell the license, change pricing to recoup some money, etc... do a ten year plan or something, the next Legal Sea Foods isn't going to wait that long to get a 'cheap' license to open. They'll just buy it from some local place and mark up all their cocktails 10 cents to recoup. Meanwhile, small local operators have a better chance of actually being able to open by dealing directly with the city.

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Voting closed 3

"unsuccessfully applying twice for a new liquor license"

Were they under the impression that people were foolish enough to believe that was going to happen or were they actually moving forward in the hopes that it would actually happen?

I'm going with the former as anyone even remotely involved in the liquor business in this city knows the current market price of a license and the chances of some city agency finding a free one in a drawer somewhere.

It's understandable that people don't want to pay the upwards of $400K for the license and yes, the system needs to be overhauled, but until the Mass legislature is held to account for anything, the status quo will remain.

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Voting closed 7

Like the time the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury looked to be on the verge of closing permanently and one of its old officials returned its license to the board, which then gave the license to somebody else.

And then people who liked the place raised enough money to fix whatever was physically wrong with the place and re-open it, only the board had already given the license to somebody else.

Of course, the club's supporters the convinced the legislature to pass a special bill to give Boston one more license, just for the club - an avenue not open to most places, though.

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Voting closed 10

Insane. I mean, good for the club, but the way this shit is handled in this state is INSANE.

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Voting closed 2