The Great Massachusetts Beer Garden Backlash Has Arrived

Discussion in 'New England' started by Todd, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,633) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff

    More: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2019/02/12/massachusetts-beer-garden-backlash/
     
  2. 9percenthurdle

    9percenthurdle Initiate (22) Sep 6, 2018 Massachusetts

    Emailed Nick Collins to inquire why he thinks such a measure is necessary. We shall see
     
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  3. LukieBL

    LukieBL Initiate (100) Jun 10, 2015 Massachusetts


    I’m sure he’ll get right back to you with a transparent answer
     
  4. 9percenthurdle

    9percenthurdle Initiate (22) Sep 6, 2018 Massachusetts

    Perhaps I get no response. Better than just sitting on one's hands though no?
     
  5. Rysk22

    Rysk22 Initiate (190) Nov 12, 2014 Massachusetts
    Trader

    What goes better than government and pointless legislation with no positive effects for the public.
     
    9percenthurdle likes this.
  6. jamvt

    jamvt Disciple (368) Aug 5, 2005 Massachusetts
    Trader

    I read the headline and thought Backlash Brewing was opening a beer garden. Kind of bummed that's not the case.
     
  7. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (225) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    From the original Globe story:
    The fact that they have to change the law to prevent these beer gardens seems to be pretty clear evidence that it is in fact legal.
     
  8. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (279) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    So we're banning these because people like them too much, is that it?
     
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  9. nathanb47

    nathanb47 Initiate (153) Dec 14, 2010 Massachusetts
    Trader

    They’re trying to ban them I’m assuming because restaurants and bars were complaining about losing business last year. Squeaky wheel gets the grease
     
  10. 9percenthurdle

    9percenthurdle Initiate (22) Sep 6, 2018 Massachusetts

    Below is email response from Nick Collins office to my earlier inquiry:

    "Thanks for reaching out to our office. Firstly I want to clarify, the article stated Senator Collins was a sponsor of this bill- that’s not accurate. Only one Senator can introduce a bill, and that was not Senator Collins. This isn’t an issue that is high on our agenda, but he did cosponsor the bill because he thinks it’s an important conversation to have around what our “one-day” licenses should look like. At the moment, they are theoretically limited to 30, but recently companies have worked around that to essentially access unlimited “one-day” licenses: de facto making them permanent liquor licenses without any of the cost incurred by traditional businesses to get those licenses.

    The state and city have worked very hard to make traditional liquor licenses more accessible to small, locally owned restaurants in our neighborhoods, and it would be unfortunate to see “one-day” licenses undercut the value there by bypassing what is a pretty rigorous and expensive process.

    That is not to say that we don’t like beer gardens or appreciate their economic impact, I certainly do. This bill is not about taking a side between restaurants and beer gardens, but rather having a conversation about how to best approach these temporary licenses. Maybe a hard 14 limit is not the best way, maybe it is just enforcing the 30 limit, or creating a separate licensure for beer gardens that levels the playing field with restaurants. In any case, it’s an important conversation to have, and we look forward to being a part of that. We certainly want to achieve access for consumers, and economic development for all sorts of businesses in the city and state, not stifle any successful industries.

    Hope that answers your questions, and please feel free to reach out to our office should you have any more concerns. This bill will also have a public hearing (Date TBD) and you are more than welcome to come testify with your perspective."
     
  11. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,633) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff

    Replies from Nick Collins on Twitter:

     
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  12. Sheppard

    Sheppard Savant (913) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia

    I have no ill will against restaurants, but they're, in my opinion, getting mad because they're not taking the additional steps to be more mobile. Some are, taking a reverse path from brick and mortar to having food trucks as well (Naco Taco, Moody's, etc), but the majority of them are standing pat and complaining because breweries are acting fluidly with how they sell their beer. Breweries are looking at what the consumer wants and are delivering. I love a lot of the restaurants and bars in town, but they're not giving the experience people want. It's tough to sacrifice a beautiful summer evening to sit in a dark bar.
     
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  13. parg0

    parg0 Initiate (35) Feb 22, 2018 Massachusetts

    Hope to see some serious "backlash" to this legislation. It's winter more than half the year in MA. I understand the economical concerns of restaurants but preying on people's ability to enjoy drinking outside for a few months a year is not the answer. IMO food trucks, pop-ups, patios, roof decks, happy hour (try that one legislature) etc. are a step in a better direction.
     
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  14. papposilenus

    papposilenus Meyvn (1,059) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    Fair enough. Do that. Level the playing field then step away.

    Maybe a four month license at 1/3 the cost of an annual.
     
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  15. juliolugo

    juliolugo Initiate (84) Jun 22, 2015 Massachusetts

    Pick one.

    Ah, a race to the bottom, making it more restrictive for beer gardens rather than less restrictive for restaurants. Great plan, Nick Collins.
     
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  16. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Zealot (501) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Don’t forget distributors
     
  17. gclaw4444

    gclaw4444 Initiate (78) Jul 30, 2015 Massachusetts
    Trader

    I agree. I didnt realize the beer gardens were just getting one day licenses every day and i definitely think it's worth a look at the system to provide a better solution. That solution isnt to put a hard cap on those licenses and leave it at that. They have to provide some sort of monthly/seasonal license.
     
  18. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Defender (610) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    It’s a tough spot. We all love the pop-up beer gardens. But folks that have paid exorbitant prices for their licenses at brick & mortar places have to be pissed. The archaic laws are to blame for sure - wasn’t there supposed to be a review of them a few years ago? And a Republican pro-business regime under Baker would resolve this? I guess not.
     
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  19. redbill

    redbill Initiate (1) Nov 29, 2018

    Massachusetts politicians see green and want their cut, business as usual.
     
  20. mhull

    mhull Initiate (92) Apr 11, 2008 Massachusetts

    So are breweries currently circumventing the process by having different individuals in the company apply for each of the licenses vs. the company as a whole?
     
  21. Smokee

    Smokee Initiate (149) Jul 23, 2009 Massachusetts

    Owning/operating a restaurant in Boston is an absolute shit show for an individual. Byzantine licensing laws, labor shortages, and brutal rents are causing more and more places to close and chain restaurants to move in.
    Trillium(who had their own licensing issues way back when) had a pop up in the power station in Rozzie square last winter. The pop up great and successful. BUT, the local restaurant owners were pissed. All of these owners had to go through the exhausting Boston liquor board process. One place, Redds, actually closed the following summer. I'm not sure that the pop up was the definitive reason for the closure, but I know it didn't help.
     
  22. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (225) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Redd's closed because the owner wanted to cash out the value of his liquor license, despite the restaurant being popular and profitable:
    Note that the initiative referenced is one to allow the city to issue nontransferable licenses, not one involved the sec 14 licenses: https://www.universalhub.com/2018/councilor-try-again-get-more-liquor-licenses
     
  23. 9percenthurdle

    9percenthurdle Initiate (22) Sep 6, 2018 Massachusetts

    The more I read this thread the more I realize this is a very nuanced situation. Obviously you don't want restaurants and bars to go out of business, but on the flip side should liquor licenses really be viewed as assets similar to how people once viewed taxi medallions (pre-Uber/Lyft) as can't miss investments? I honestly don't know, but I don't think the answer is to squelch emerging forms of competition to prop of hospitality groups hoarding licenses. It seems like a very tough balance to strike between revenue to municipalities, health of bars/restaurants, and not having onerous hurdles to new entrants (beer gardens, small business owners opening bars/restaurants, etc.).
     
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  24. Zach423

    Zach423 Initiate (54) Dec 9, 2018 Massachusetts

    Love beer gardens. Lots of fun and a great way to get young adults into craft beer. Seems unfair that they are clearly taking advantage of the 1day licenses however. I think its more like that they scrap the single-day licenses entirely and create another form of liquor license which will allow beer gardens to continue, but at a steeper price to the sponsoring brewery.
     
  25. SpauldingSmails

    SpauldingSmails Initiate (132) Sep 11, 2014 Massachusetts

    As mentioned above, this is a little like the Lyft/Uber situation where the government has regulations that create a scarcity, which ultimately creates value where there shouldn't be any. I think liquor licenses should be close to free and predominantly left up to the market as to how many there can be in a given area.
     
  26. Auror

    Auror Defender (603) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts
    Trader

    The city let the value of liquor licenses get too high thanks to the quota system. Now they're screwed with a Sophie's choice.

    It's essentially the same argument as the NIMBY zoning debate (and the aforementioned taxi medallions).

    Do you devalue existing assets that real people paid a lot of real money for or do you decrease regulation, lower the cost of entry, and promote innovation and increase consumer choice.
     
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  27. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (225) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    I think you can do both. Just have the existing licenses split. This creates more licenses, it compensates existing licensees for dilution, and it keeps the government out of the business of setting a buyback price.

    At some point it would be nice to switch to nontransferable licenses, but that's another issue.
     
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  28. Auror

    Auror Defender (603) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts
    Trader

    Not sure what you mean by split. Split like a stock?

    Would each licensee sell a duplicate of its license?
     
  29. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (225) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Exactly--if you're a licenseholder, that license spawns another license that you can choose to hold or sell.

    Alternatively, so that you don't get "lumpy" changes in license numbers, the state could create new licenses, auction them off, and distribute the proceeds equally to existing licenseholders. That way you could increase the number of licenses by a fractional amount (e.g., 20% /yr)
     
  30. 9percenthurdle

    9percenthurdle Initiate (22) Sep 6, 2018 Massachusetts

    I think it's in interesting idea and I applaud you for thinking outside the box, but if I'm a license holder I wouldn't sell the additional "share" as it invites competition. I'd just sit on both licenses and the net effect of split would be moot. Is this reasoning faulty?
     
  31. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (225) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    That would just drive the price up for those that are willing to sell their share--eventually you'd reach an equilibrium I think. Here's an example:

    Say there are 100 licenseholders and they go for $100k each on the open market. Each splits, so now there are 100 surplus licenses--you'd expect each to go for about $50k now. However, if 99 of those 100 decide hold their extra license, there are now only 101 licenses effectively on the market. That makes the market price of that one surplus license on the market about $99k! That's a pretty strong incentive for that first guy to sell his extra license.

    Obviously this is a bit oversimplified, but I suspect it would basically work. If you gave the government the new licenses and had them auction them off and return the proceeds to the existing licenceholders, then it wouldn't be an issue either.
     
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  32. Smokee

    Smokee Initiate (149) Jul 23, 2009 Massachusetts

    Many boston restaurants have/had the terms of their commercial financing predicated on the value of the liquor license that the individual operator and premise holds. I completely agree that the currently licensing system is awful, but immediately devaluing absolutely results in worse financing terms.
     
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  33. GetCraft

    GetCraft Initiate (62) Jan 8, 2014 Massachusetts

    Point of information: Distributors sell beer to the beer gardens. They’re not mad about them.
     
  34. Davl22

    Davl22 Aspirant (235) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire
    Trader

    They will stopped being banned when they figure out how to tax them...
     
  35. Seacoastbrewer

    Seacoastbrewer Initiate (131) Jun 5, 2012 New Hampshire

    I was thinking the same thing, though honestly anytime distributors come up, the pitchforks arrive. I'm sure that was the intention with the over-the-top thread title. Thinking on it further though, I wonder how the beer garden concept impacts self-owned distribution companies like Night Shift's. I'm not sure who distros for Trillium's garden. Would be nice to have some brewery folks input here.
     
  36. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (279) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    I mean, I think they should pay taxes, especially if they're using public spaces. But that's not what this legislation is as far as I can tell...
     
  37. kinopio

    kinopio Aspirant (257) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts

    It is the state that capped Boston liquor licenses. The city has nothing to do with that. It is dumb that state legislators are the ones that control a city's liquor licenses.
     
  38. Smokee

    Smokee Initiate (149) Jul 23, 2009 Massachusetts

    I never knew that. Pretty interesting.
     
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  39. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (883) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    And of course, Nightshift has a couple of beer gardens themselves in the summer.
     
  40. SpauldingSmails

    SpauldingSmails Initiate (132) Sep 11, 2014 Massachusetts

    Doesn't Trillium distribute to Trillium?