<– Boston’s first liquor license was a lot cheaper.
Excuse the truism, but Boston is horrible with liquor licensing.
City and state caps have pushed the price of a full liquor license up to as much as $450,000, and bar owners in lower income neighborhoods often find it easier to sell their licenses for a quick profit than stay open, resulting in cultural deserts. But Somerville—a city more economically reliant on nightlife than most—is attempting to bypass its state cap (84 full liquor licenses) with legislation called the Home Rule Petition. State legislature is currently mulling over the bill, but if passed, it will grant the city 10 to 12 more full licenses, according to Somerville’s Deputy Director of Communications Jackie Rossetti.
When simply acquiring a liquor license becomes competitive, small local bars, especially the newer, trendier bars aimed at young professionals, suffer.
Malia Lazu, director of Future Boston Alliance, a group aiming to fix some of the problems that ail Boston’s nightlife, likes to cite the case of Sydney Australia, where the high price of liquor licenses forced establishments to either cater to high end clientele or operate in high volume. Bars were either downtown chic or fratboy obnoxious, and the young professionals who needed something in the middle were leaving.
Sydney fixed this by making the price of licenses fixed to the amount of patrons being served. Smaller bar, smaller license fee.
It’s hard to imagine Boston passing legislation that practical, simple or effective, but Home Rule is a start.