By John Lynds
Last week, the Boston City Council voted in favor of lifting the long-standing ban on BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) in neighborhood restaurants. However, restaurants in Downtown, the North End, South End, Bay Village, Fenway, Chinatown, Seaport, West End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay neighborhoods of Boston are not eligible for the new BYOB program.
The bill, introduced by At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu, would allow patrons to restaurants with 30 seats or less and a waitstaff to bring their own bottles of beer and wine.
Wu said this would help small restaurants in Boston’s outer neighborhoods to begin to compete with restaurants in areas inundated with beer, wine and liquor licenses and may be loosing patrons due to the inability to provide alcohol.
“I’m proud that the City Council voted to end the long-standing ban on BYOB in Boston, taking a step to support more neighborhood small restaurants,” said Wu. “Our proposal to do BYOB in a safe, regulated way, is meant to give entrepreneurs an additional tool and residents more dining out options.”
The establishments in eligible neighborhoods would need to first obtain a BYOB License from the Boston Licensing Board before allowing patrons to begin participating in the new BYOB ordinance.
The new BYOB program would be highly regulated and patrons may only bring wine in containers no greater than 750ml and malt beverages in containers no greater than 16oz, and only a total amount up to 750ml of wine or up to 72 ounces of malt beverages, or one six-pack of beer, per two people.
Also all new employees at establishments with a BYOB license must participate in an insurance industry-approved safe-service-of-alcohol training that can be done online. All current employees must complete the training within 14 days of the license being awarded.
“Today I voted in support of lifting the City’s ban on BYOB because existing and aspiring restaurateurs and residents alike deserve BYOB as an option,” said At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, whose home rule petition last year returned the oversight of liquor licenses and their distribution from the state to the city. “While this is an important step, and helpful tool, I am keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize – fighting for the City of Boston to have full local control of the liquor licensing process. We must permanently dismantle the arbitrary State cap system which has created disparities across our neighborhoods. Local control remains my focus in the fight for wealth building equity.”