“It is absolutely critical that Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville maintain malleable minds around the issues of restaurant licensing and public consumption in general.”
For a while now, I have been thinking about things that were changed due to the pandemic and which (I think) ought to stay that way. For example, while my aunt has a prescription that absurdly used to require the mailing or physical handoff of a paper printout like we’re still in 1987, since April 2020 her physician has been able to call it directly into the pharmacy. I’m interested in stuff like that, plus new opportunities for people to work from home, and for families experiencing homelessness to get work and a home, as you will read about in this week’s news section.
At the local level, I will also beat another drum that many have pummeled these last few months. In short, it is absolutely critical that Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville maintain malleable minds around the issues of restaurant licensing and public consumption in general. It has always been a nightmare for small business owners to do simple things like put more tables on the street, experiment with sous vide, or sell boozy mixed cocktails to go (especially in Boston, which has historically been the most rigid of the three and as a result repels creative micro establishments, which instead opt for smaller cities and towns in the region). Now that we have learned that a little bending of old rules doesn’t lead to mass murder and mayhem, it is important to keep the pressure on so that crotchety bureaucrats don’t return to the playbook.
To be clear, I don’t mean this as some kind of infantile libertarian rant against government regulations. Nor am I here to sympathize with megalomaniacal restaurant owners who whined and ignored federal COVID advisories and thought little of their workers at the most dangerous points of the outbreak (it’s no coincidence that many of these Joey Marinara mob wannabe dolts are among those publicly lamenting how nobody wants to come work for them). I’m just saying that moving forward, when it’s time to make decisions about things like whether a bar should be able to open for an extra half hour, that I hope lawmakers or councilors or neighborhood leaders or whoever the hell is in charge relaxes with the usual stubbornness and remembers how during the worst part of the pandemic, even if just for a moment, the plight and welfare of local businesses (and the experience of their patrons) actually mattered more than the feelings of inept municipal tyrants.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.